“I flew in from New York and I am about six hours behind and I tossed and turned all night. Now according to Fitbit I am operating at 60% of my optimum speed,” says Natt Garun, Features Editor for The Next Web while interviewing James Park, co-founder and CEO of the company at LeWeb in Paris, France.
This is our reality: devices and apps that gather data on us and tell us how well or poorly we are doing health-wise. This trend is sweeping through the tech space and every new startup wants to play in this field. It’s true of society, we first create things that might kill us then build things that could prevent it.
Personal data, getting fit and sharing
“We have one the largest databases of biometrics in the world and that has provided us with a lot of insights into the user behaviour,” says Park. “We have noticed that after 12 weeks of using a Fitbit device people are up to 30% to 40% more active and being social really helps. Having more friends provides added peer pressure to get active.”
Park reckons that right now people are very interested in gathering data about themselves and sharing their accomplishments when it comes to getting fit. French-based wearable tech company WiThings seems to agree.
According to the company, it has created the world’s first smart scale that not only measures your weight but your heart rate and your CO2 levels. The company has also brought a clip to accompany its scale that tracks your daily activities and apps that connect directly to the devices.
These devices are getting increasingly popular, encouraging people to get healthier through gamification and sharing. Almost all these devices use a form of badges or a leaderboard system to get users to do more and be more active. What’s really interesting is the wealth of data being gathered about an individual’s health and the difference that information can make.
How dangerous is this data though? For Fitbit it’s about motivation and providing tools for people to understand their personal data.
“We are very careful about the way we collect, share and interpret data for people and try to utilise the data for its effectiveness,” says Park. “All this data has to be used in conjunction with a doctor if there is going to be a medical use for it. So we do have a lot of users who particularly with their sleep data, view it, see discrepancies in their sleep and take it to a doctor and the doctor will take the next steps.”
Park says that it is ultimately up to the doctor to make a “human decision” about what to do with the data.
Smart t-shirts and bras too?
Get me a bra that tells me if I am about to die, then we can talk, okay. That’s what OMsignal does apparently — smart clothing.
“We design wearable devices that help you live a healthier, better and happier life. I am talking here about shirts, bras, underwear, pants and socks,” says Stephane Marceau, the company co-founder.
According to the company, its products continuously track your biometrics and are connected to your mobile device that display all the data in realtime with a dashboard visualising all the data per category.
“Embedded sensors in the apparel monitor your heart rate, breathing and activity while the app displays your data in real-time on your mobile phone,” says the company.
But what about Google’s super fetch Glasses?
Clearly health is the future of wearable tech as well as personal data and the tech of you. Though big tech companies are playing in this field with more recreational devices such as Google Glass and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, these devices need to provide data that is quantifiable for the individual.
The Gear to some extent does that now, tracking steps and your activity levels, connected to your mobile devices, while Glass can access all that information based on apps individuals are using to gather these types of data. Currently though, the data they provide is not as extensive as the fitness focused devices.
What’s cool though for devices like these are apps like Headspaces, that teaches users to meditate and lead a more zen and focused life. See, we create disruptions in our lives and invent ways to still them.