I measure, therefore I exist


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The idea of collecting data to inform self-improvement isn’t new; however, only recently this concept has taken off due to the development of new technologies that make it simpler than ever to gather and analyse personal data. The development of smartphones has also enhanced this movement by incorporating sensors and quantifiable self-tools such as a camera, gyroscope, GPS, and accelerometers; so it is no surprise that many self-tracking tools are in the form of apps.
This rapidly growing movement involves a process of discovery and learning more about yourself: body fat percentage, sleep patterns, mood changes, blood pressure, calorie intake etc. Health and fitness fans, techno-geeks, or chronic patients buy gadgets and apps that provide them with constant visual feedback and the opportunity to share specific information with friends and compare progress.

Still a long way to go…
Despite the buzz around this movement, self-tracking still has a long way to go in order to consolidate all of its potential. The constraints/challenges that I consider more prominent are:
Endorse/Conquer credibility: As publicized in this article (Has mobile health monitoring hit a wall?), the American Medical Association does not have a third-party approval or an endorsement process for mobile apps. The Director of Publicis Life Brands Medicus says that many patients don’t trust the apps; that they aren’t perceived as having as much credibility or being authentic resources compared to those that are typically governed by the FDA.
Easy to use: According to the study presented in this article article, only 7% of patients use mobile technology to monitor their health. A study (The New York QS Meetup Survey) about the self-tracking system features (http://quantifiedself.com/) reveals that the ability to export, visualize, and easily use the data were the most important features that appealed to users. A focus in developing these particular features can create a competitive advantage for digital-health companies who provide options that can compete with the convenience and familiarity of a notebook.
Make it insightful and actionable: The focus should not be on producing and aggregating all sorts of numbers, but about transforming the data into actionable and meaningful information in order to achieve better health. This focus gives rise to the need for standardized metric data across different platforms, and for data to be collated from various tools into a single view in order to correlate and enhance the information.
Spark the motivation: Apps must do more to keep users engaged and provide an incentive to use them, as the promise of better health isn’t enough for many people to get started. Self-tracking systems can be woven together with social networks, mobile and gaming; using the lessons of behavioural economics to keep users motivated enough to meet any health goals they’ve set for themselves.

Quantified Self Movement: Future challenge for the 4P’sth>
The growing availability of new monitoring devices, and the increasing sophistication of social networks promises to make self-tracking much more powerful. These technologies are even presented as the core of a new era of medicine that has a base of the 4 P’s: Predictive, Preventive, Personalized, and Participatory – The Patient of the Future.
However, several concerns/question can be raised when thinking about the legitimacy of this self-tracking data. What are the boundaries for sharing such sensible private information? Can this movement which has a basis in individual testing, be scaled in ways that will affect public health, and if no comparison is made can data be valuable? How will it be possible to identify correlations to various physical, physiological and emotional states? Are users capable of studying their personal information in an objective way?
These challenging concerns must to be taken into account when thinking of future tracking devices in order to create systems that conquer user’s credibility and are endorsed by legal entities. At the same time, they must provide features that allow an easy use, easily provide insightful and actionable information, and also motivate and engage users to keep using them.
Elisa Mendes
I'm passionate about interpreting and translating quantitative and qualitative data into customer insights and market trends. Pop Up is an extension of this passion and aims to share my thoughts about some of the main marketing trends. As the name of the blog reveals, PopUp intends to share these ideas in a punchy and impactful way.I hope you can also contribute for this blog by commenting and expressing your opinions. So please, feel free to express your "PopUp" mind!


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