Nivedit Majumdar Nivedit Majumdar

Lifelogging for Health

Ah, lifelogging, the simple fundamental of tracking data from everyday activities. Popular wearables, capable of detecting fitness, blood pressure and sleep patterns. Or even phones, capable of detecting usage time and which application is being used the most. Rounds off most of the use cases, doesn’t it?

Not quite. Lifelogging has some more intricate and beautiful applications. For example, tracking the productivity in the workplace. Or correlating data through various sensors in context with each other, to paint a picture regarding your habits like you’ve never known them. Mood tracking, detecting depression, bringing about positivity and even spiritual growth, the list goes on and on. But most importantly, lifelogging can be used to track serious health concerns and conditions.

And this forms the crux of my article here. While we’ve already discussed the relation between the healthcare sector and mobile technology in 2016, this article talks about how lifelogging can directly be used for tracking the status of medical conditions.

 

FITNESS

The no-brainer application of lifelogging which is almost taken for granted, fitness is one of the key aspects measured through lifelogging. While cheaper trackers (such as the Mi Band) merely make note of the steps run, advanced fitness trackers can keep a track of the finer aspects such as pace and cadence, while at the same time correlating it with the heart rate and the calories burnt.

Pedometers have evolved, and now they come in sleeker, wearable forms, which can often double up as fashion accessories. The most popular use case of the concept of lifelogging has to be in the field of fitness tracking…

PREGNANCIES

… But let’s move beyond fitness tracking. I mean yes, it would be cool if that wrist bands told users about how run stats, and how many calories were burnt. But it’s too… usual.

Lifelogging has recently been found to track pregnancies as well. While the conventional practice (I’ve seen my sister keep track of her pregnancy) would be to cross dates off a calendar, the modus might be evolving, thanks to the Quantified Self.

Fitbits have been known to be reliable indicators, and they are often indicating the occurrence of a pregnancy even before the couple themselves know about it. The thing is this: a spike in heart rate, pressure levels and calories burnt, when the woman isn’t really exercising that much, might not mean a faulty hardware after all.

Pregnancies cause spikes in heart rate, which are recorded by the nifty sensor on the Fitbit. Put two and two together, and a new one might be expected soon! (As this Reddit user found to his joy.)

But not just in detection, keeping track of pregnancies can actually be done through some nice journalling applications. Pregnancy Tracker is one which is doing very well, and offers advice and guidelines to soon-to-be mothers.

CHRONIC DISEASES

Identifying the symptoms or triggers for a chronic disease can be very difficult, especially in the initial stages, where a small symptom passed off as a common ailment can turn out to be something quite serious.

In this regard, applications provide valuable methods and insights into tracking (and perhaps taking the first steps towards recovery) chronic disorders.

• MS Journal, SymTrac and Momentum Magazine are useful phone based tools to help people suffering from multiple sclerosis to track their ailments.

• AsthmaSense is an application which reminds patients suffering from asthma to take their inhaler medication.

• Glucose Buddy is an app where the user can log food intake and blood sugar levels, perfect for diabetics.

• Kidney Diet is an application which enables people suffering from renal failure to track consumption of sodium, protein, phosphorous and potassium.

• WebMD Pain Coach helps users track pain levels and customise goals. This app is designed for patients suffering from conditions such as chronic body pain, fibromyalgia and arthritis.

Besides the above, some applications exist on both the Play Store and App Store which are focussed on educating the patients regarding the conditions that they are going through, and providing tips to get through. Alternatively, there also exist applications which remind the users about medication timings and prescription tracking.

DEFICIENCIES

Another vital use case of lifelogging would be to track the nutrients present in the diet, and detect (and eradicate) deficiencies. Apps such as HealthWatch360, for example, enable the user to input the daily diet. On the basis of the entries made, the app can figure out whether the user’s diet is lacking in a certain nutrient.

Other applications which perform similar, if not the same, functions include:

• Cronometer

• TheCarrot.com

• MyFitnessPal

• Vitamate

While being enabled to track the diets of the users, these applications are also capable of suggestion suitable diet plans which the user might like to follow to include all nutrients – be it in the form of vitamins, minerals or calories – in the diet regime.

TAKEAWAY POINT

The Quantified Self is definitely all about improving the quality of life. Lifelogging is just one of the many ways health conditions can be tracked completely. But the vital point to keep in mind is this – lifelogging might be the tool, but the actual power to bring about a holistic, healthy development ultimately lies in the user’s own hands.

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