Gentlemen, we have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better…stronger…faster.
The ‘wearable tech’ industry is in massive growth, it’s undeniable, in fact recent research shows that the ownership of wearable fitness devices doubled in the US last year.
Q: Why then are we so keen to pursue the Quantified Self?
A: Because, quite simply, these technologies allow us to become better versions of ourselves.
I recently bought an activity tracker myself, and it is definitely having an impact on my day-to-day behaviour. And it’s not just me, many others are seeing remarkable results with these new health technologies, including Stephen Waddington who extolled the virtues of his device during a debate on the ethical issues posed by such products.
The ability to actually see the data with your own eyes is a powerful encouragement, rather than casually remarking, ‘I know I need to….’ and doing nothing about it, it coerces you into changing your habits for the better.
Being able to see not only what you’re doing, both well and not so well, is great but what really gives you the drive to make a change for the better is seeing the measures you are taking showing real results.
These technologies by constantly monitoring you, and/or causing you to track and input your own data, force you to become more aware of your body and how it reacts to what you do. It makes you more health conscious, whether you choose to do anything about it or not.
As one of my favourite TV adverts famously says: “Hate something? Change something. Make something better.”
From my personal experience of wearable tech and those of the people I’ve spoken to about it, we have all hated something and at least made a start about changing something. So as far as I’m concerned the rise in wearable tech sales can only be a good thing.
The rising market penetration of fitness and activity trackers and health apps may prevent people becoming like those hoverchair-bound lumps on Wall-E and stop us seeing stories like this in the papers. We can but hope!
In most cases all people need is a bit of a push; the awareness that something needs to change, knowing what to do to change it, and the motivation to make that change. All of these are found in wearable tech and smartphone-based software, which having been optimised for user experience and often gamified to encourage progress, empower people to become healthier – often at very little cost.
With such rapid development of technology and incredible growth in this sector the possibilities are almost limitless. As many have noted there are logical progressions, for instance allowing medical professionals access to personal data recorded by these devices to improve healthcare and perhaps even elective bionic augmentations in time.
While I think Bioshock-style genetic manipulation is off the table, the health technology sector is certainly one to keep an eye on because there are some equally wacky ideas that do come to fruitition.
For some great insights as to where we are and where we are heading, check out Stephen Davies‘s excellent Slideshare deck on the Digital Health Revolution 2014-2034: