With the Internet of Things maturing and the next generation low-latency, high bandwidth 5G networks nearing mass deployment, the data available from our lives is growing exponentially. The cost of sensors has been reducing thanks to increased adoption of wearables. With all this data out there, is it really adding value to our lives?
Since the initial phase of wearables, there has been a lot of focus around the quantity of data available. As a user, in most cases the data is not giving proper insights, leading to a very low retention rate of wearables. According to Forrester, 60 to 73% of the data being collected is never used for any strategic purpose. This does not come as a surprise with GBs of Quantified Self data being collected but not being utilized properly.
The initial generations of life logging apps had plenty of numbers and graphs available to the user. A very few users could actually utilize all this data that was being tracked. These niche Quantified Self users were able to efficiently export the collected data and process it using R or other tools.
If we observe successful Quantified Self wearables today, like the Apple Watch, the amount of data it presents to the user is limited. Though as much data is presented to the user provides good meaning and great correlations. A great example of that would be its activity rings.
Although, the WatchOS gave the user lesser amount initially it made sure it did it properly and in a way that any person would understand. Moving ahead, it now tracks swims and presents Heart Rate data in a very simple way for the average user.
An important part of all these wearables tracking data is the context. With newer apps providing benchmarks & goals by which users understand a good range of their data. Some apps are now even able to correlate user data providing them ultimate understanding of what their data exactly means and how it relates to other health & fitness parameters.
This is letting people be more self-aware and drive behavioral change in the right direction. Context can really make these Quantified Self experiences magical and act as a wellness solution in peoples lives.
How much data is enough? After a point data can get overwhelming, so it is essential that only limited data is measured and displayed to the user. With health sensors getting cheaper, smaller and more efficient, we are going to see wearables go from wellness solutions to actual medical devices. With continuous blood sugar monitors & SPO2 improving, we should be able to see them in wearables in the next few years that can help correlate health parameters along with current Heart Rate data. On the other hand, with AI & neural networks we can hope to see a better analysis of all the tracked data. This analyzed summary of the user’s data will make it more valuable and give a major boost to the Quantified Self movement.