Quantified Self

Quantified Self

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Added Aug 17, 2015 at 04:51PM EDT by Ari Spool.

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Quantified Self, also known as personal informatics, bio-tracking, self-hacking, or auto-analytics, is a movement which incorporates technology and data-collection into daily life, including tracking things like exercise, sleep, calories, and heart rate in an effort to better quantify health and productivity. It is related to other self-tracking movements, including life-logging and sousveillance, but is more related to health and well-being.


The data-minded have always kept track of their personal metrics via personal charts and graphs; Buckminster Fuller was known to keep detailed accountings of his day-to-day activities.[2] The first wearable computers used in bio-analytic tracking were invented in the 1970s,[3] but the term "Quantified Self" was first proposed in 2007 by two contributing editors to Wired Magazine, Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly, who started a company called Quantified Self to serve the growing community of bio-trackers with meetups, conferences, and other social tools to assist in comparisons.[4][5]

In a 2010 TED talk, Wolf explained that people had been using smartphones and the improvements in data processing to track every day things about their lives, including their diets and personal exercise regime. He wanted people to understand that this type of tracking could be used not only for external data collection, but also for self-knowledge.

Online Presence

Wolf and Kelly's company, Quantified Self, has been widely responsible for the popularity of the term. They maintain an official web site and a Twitter account, which has 13,500 followers as of August, 2015.[1][6] There is also a subreddit for people interested in Quantified Self-type tracking, which was created in 2011 and has over 2,000 readers as of August 2015.[7] There are 21 separate Usenet groups for different geographic sectors of the Quantified Self organization, and hundreds of separate meetups on Meetup for people interested in discussing the subculture.[8][9]

The Quantified Self movement has been widely reported on, as well, especially on blogs and in publications devoted to technology. The popular technology and lifestyle blog Lifehacker has hundreds of posts about Quantified Self-related items, including news on new styles of fitness tracking and devices.[10]

Members of the Quantified Self community use a variety of different apps and devices for their health tracking, including Fitbit, Apple Health, MyFitnessPal, Nomie, Google Fit, Exist, and Athos.

o AT&T 5:37 PM nomie 4 6 5 Drank Water 20 Pushups Peed 2 Mood Meh Happy Ate Gluten 1 2 Ate Healthy Ate Poorly Drank Coffee 1 Drank Alcohol Frustrated Unmotivated 2 Low Refilled eCig Having Fun ▼ ▲ 5:00 * ▼▲ 5:00 13 min walking 25 il See graph details min Mountain View 5:19 PM 12 min running Palo Alto 3:11 PM Yesterday 42 min 705 5 min biking Mountain View·11 :49 AM via Running App 42 min today 17 min to your average Mon, Oct 20 46 min Show short activities (12 min) l See graph details 77丶 Yesterday 42 min Sun, Oct 19 59 min 70% 98 ● 13 min walking Mountain View 5:19 PM
MONDAY 01:04 PM Sleep Mood Steps 1.2 km 44 min active av 1750 8512 Yesterday Tired but otherwise had a nice day av 07:18 08:58 Mood by email Saturday: Best day for 3 days 4/5 mood rating Jawbone UP Asleep Sunday: worst steps for 9 days 8,061 steps awake 06:11 21:56 bed time 23:18 avg 4 awakenings 3.7 average mood last 7 days 4.4 the prior week 07:11 18% increase in average this week 11,419 average steps av EventS 0 today 00:00 in events = Calendar Jawbone UP Friday: Best day for 9 days 13,161 steps av Sunday night: Longest sleep for 3 nights 7:18 time asleep 00:00 avg Check-ins 6% decrease in average time asleep this week 6:52 average time asleep av Weather 5.3/ 21.6 ° C Clear throughout the day = Forecast.io = Foursquare 72 min earlier than average wake time this week 05:43 average Tracks played 104 = Last.fm Friday night: Shortest sleep for 3 nights 5:40 time asleep Iweets av = Twitter 8 DAYS MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY MONDAY 15863 12474 12253 13161 Steps 9249 8523 8061 1750 68 Active minutes 9.25 6.98 Distance 06:51 07:03 08:32 07:09 04:37 05:40 Time asleep 07:37 08:21 07:07 08:38 08:23 Time in bed 02:35 22:57 22:57 00:54 Bedtime 06:00 06:24 06:00 06:25 06:11 Wake time 03:54 Awakenings
A variety of self-tracking apps, clockwise from top left: Nomie, Google Fit, Athos Sensor Clothing, and Exist

Notable Developments


Fitbit, also known as the Fitbit Tracker, is a type of wearable technology used to track fitness metrics like daily step counts, heart rate, and more. Because the devices include a social network as part of their operating system, their use has grown a subculture of self-quantification and personal metric tracking.

Fitbit was developed in 2007 in San Francisco, CA, by James Park and Eric Friedman. Their mission is “To empower and inspire you to live a healthier, more active life. We design products and experiences that fit seamlessly into your life so you can achieve your health and fitness goals, whatever they may be.”

Apple Healthkit and Researchkit

After the successes of Nike+ and the Fitbit, both of which are external devices that can interact with iPhones and iPods, Apple debuted the Apple HealthKit as a mandatory download with its 8th version of the Apple iOS. Working from the dominant idea that most iPhone users carry their phones with them at all times, HealthKit automatically tracked steps, stairs, and calories burned automatically, with the ability to enter more data through an app called Health. In addition, the framework included with HealthKit was easier for other apps to integrate, to take advantage of the software and hardware inside the iPhone to improve health-tracking. [11]

Another included framework, ResearchKit, allowed the data to be used by apps that would use it not for fitness but for instead for tracking health data for the control and research of illnesses like asthma, Parkinson's Disease, and diabetes.[12]

Search Interest

External References

[1] Quantified Self

[2] PS Mag – The Secret History of Life Hacking

[3] MIT Media Labs – Wearables Timeline

[4] Wikipedia – Quantified Self

[5] Quantified Self – About

[6] Twitter – Quantified Self

[7] Reddit – /r/quantifiedself

[8] Google Groups – Quantified Self

[9] Meetup – Quantified Self

[10] Lifehacker – Quantified Self Posts

[11] Apple Health – What's New: Health

Recent Videos 6 total

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Top Comments


To many people, exercise is all about pushing your own limits, trying to beat your own record. The people this article talks about want to measure that with precision. It's basically applying arcade high scores to fitness. Fitness devices like treadmills have moved toward this, too. I'm honestly not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. I mean, I'm sure there's some benefit to be found in tracking your exercise habits, but if this becomes the norm, people who don't exercise might feel like closely tracking your exercise habits is necessary when it's really not. It's like vegetables -- yeah, organic vegetables might (might) be better for you, but if you can't find or afford organic vegetables, you eat regular ones.

Why am I talking about health; I'm a sedentary nerd who forgets to eat.


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