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Growing the quantified Self

The broad space of wearables application. Every single wearable generates data that contribute to the building of the Quantified Self. Notice that this picture is taken from a report published in 2013, ages ago. Yet it still covers nicely they many areas of wearables application. Credit: Beecham Research in Partnership with Wearable Technologies Group

Wearables have been around for several years. They are just becoming more seamless and performant in terms of picking up, with increased precision, a number of parameters from which applications can derive meaning, like counting the number of steps we walk in a day, deriving the calories consumed and getting a sense of our fitness. Indeed, some 70% of wearables today are related to the fitness area and only a fraction are used for serious medical reasons.

The sensitivity of wearables is hampered not by electronics rather by the way people are using them. You can have an eWatch that can be very accurate in measuring blood oxygenation, temperature, hearth beats… but if you are wearing it over your shirt cuff you cannot expect miracles.

Making wearable with medical-grade precision is too costly and it would still require the person to comply with a strict protocol of use.

However, in the last period the availability of more wearable worn by a person makes it possible to cross check, compare data, and this increases their reliability leading to more accurate analyses.

This  trend is likely to continue and we can bet on the harvesting of tons of data as we live our life undisturbed. These data are the starting point to the construction and up-keeping of the QS, Quantified Self, watch the clip.

The Quantified Self is part of the trend towards the creation of human digital twins I spoke about in several other posts.

In this framework the decision of Apple to provide an Application Programming Interface, API, in a new release of IOS (for smartphones and tablets) conforming to the Argonaut Data Query to access medical records might prove to be a game changer. It is not a first, a few years ago Google took the same decision hoping to enable a variety of medical applications and services based on the smartphone but it failed.
Now the time may be just right for leveraging this kind of data. An authorised doctor may access these data captured and stored in our smartphone to check remotely our condition and provide guidance.

This is bound to foster the creation of several data kits (applications) that in turn will provide the incentive to adopt more wearable and in turns will stimulate progress in their capabilities.

Many experts consider that the future of health care is intertwined with data both personal and social data. The basic components are becoming available. Regulation is lagging behind.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.