Since the launch of the Nike+ and FitBit in 2006 and 2008 respectively, we’ve been able to count our steps and know how little or how much we’ve moved around in a day. Now with the advent of some new technology found in the Basis watch, we can add heart rate, sleep and fitness tracking to the mix. Ok, so all those are interesting parameters to track but probably not sufficient to make a real difference to me or to propel these products into the mainstream.
I spin 3-4 times a week, I’d like to have a sensor that can accurately tell me how many calories I burnt during my ride and how long I spent in my fitness zone. I know Polar and others can do that, but those trackers are focused on a specific activity. The same is true of every other activity and associated tracker. Each activity has different kinematics and I don’t think consumers will buy a fitness band for each sport they do (a rainbow of LiveStrong bands up my arm is definitely passé). Future band and watch manufacturers need to consider this when designing their new products (think Amiigo). In my view however, bands and watches are not the answer. Perhaps the quantified movement needs to be steered into embedding sensors into garments, equipment, automobiles and other everyday things that will allow those objects to seamlessly record data that we care about and present it in a unified and meaningful manner in a single place.
But beyond sport buffs, who else cares about this? Given that I’ve been tracking everything I eat for the last year, I can tell you that there are an awful lot of people that would like to seamlessly track what they ingest. Tracking food intake on your smartphone through an app is painful to say the least and is not the answer for the mainstream consumer – no matter how pretty and well designed the app is. Solving this is hard, but who ever does it first will have a huge advantage. Google Glass could help here, but I don’t wear glasses and don’t want to – so now what?
What other things do I want to track? Well, how about weight without having to get on a scale? It would be nice if I could trend my weight without having to remember to get on a scale every day – let my shoes do the weighing!
I’d also like to see the relationship between mood, weight, sleep, activity, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, smoking, drinking and more all in one place without me having to enter any data or use 10 different devices to track all that – I know all this is coming but in order for it to take off it has to be frictionless and embedded in the fabric (no pun intended here). Some companies are helping with the data-aggregating piece. TicTrac just launched publicly this week and there are others coming. Now we just need the device makers to get creative.
What would you like to quantify?