QS: Five years, Five lessons
March 4, 2014
Today’s post comes to us from Rajiv Mehta, our longtime friend and co-organizer of the Bay Area Quantified Self Meetup group. Rajiv is also leading the team behind UnfrazzledCare, a media and application development company focused on the caregiving community.
“What lessons have we learned through Quantified Self meetings and conferences that would benefit entrepreneurs looking to enter this space?” That’s what I was asked to comment on at a recent event on Quantified Self: The Next Frontier in Mobile Healthcare organized by IEEE and TiE. The workshop took place on September 19, 2013, almost exactly five years after the first QS meetup, naturally leading to a theme of 5 years and 5 lessons.
The 5 themes I discussed were:
- How difficult it is to get an accurate measure on the “market size” for self-tracking, though according to some measures it is a very common activity.
- The importance of and excitement surrounding new sensor technologies, but also what we have learned about our in-built human sensors and the challenges of making sense of the data.
- The need to treat feedback loops with caution; that thoughtful reflection is sometimes better than quick reaction.
- About engagement and motivation, about how so many are drawn to QS through a desire to change their own behaviors, and how QS experiences match behavior science research.
- The value of self engagement, and how self-trackers often learn something even when their experiments aren’t successful.
My slides include my talking points, in small text below the slides. If you view this full-screen, you should be able to read the small text.
Several other QS regulars participated in this workshop. Rachel Kalmar, who runs the Sensored meetup group and is a data scientist with Misfit Wearables, gave a keynote on some of the technology challenges facing those working on the sensing devices. These ranged from the fundamental (“What exactly is a step?”) to prosaic (batteries!), and from business issues (data openness vs competitive advantage) to human issues (accuracy vs wearability). Dave Marvit, of Fujitsu Labs, shared some of their work on real-time stress tracking and his thoughts on the issue of “quantifying subjectivity”. Sky Christopherson, of Optimized Athlete, told the audience of his own health-recovery through self-tracking and how he helped the US women’s track cycling team to a dramatic, silver-medal performance at the London Olympics. QS supports his passion for “data not doping” as a better route to athletic excellence. And Monisha Perkash showed off Lumoback.