Nivedit Majumdar Nivedit Majumdar

Sensors and their role in Context and Quantified Self

We’ve been talking on and on about how the process of Quantification can actually help in a comprehensive analysis of the data that is gathered. When the process of Quantification meets the brains of Context, it leads to the creation of an ecosystem like none other: informative, interesting and intelligent.

But the true backbone of this entire system is not the complex software algorithm which analyses the data, nor the design suites which display the data to the end user. The main component of this entire structure comprises of the gamut of sensors which take in data intelligently and efficiently, while at the same time not being a hindrance to the daily activities of the user.

And that is the crux of my article here. What sensors am I talking about? What is the scope for them in the future? And what do the market records suggest in this regard? So here, I dive deep into the world of sensors and talk about their role in the Quantified Self Movement.


This is kind of an important factor to keep in mind, which can actually build a powerful quantified system, or can create haphazard results. The concept of Quantified Self was introduced in 2007, but it is only recently that it is flexing its technological arms and growing in a way that was never perceived before.

I’ve always talked about sensors becoming cheaper, which reduces the cost of wearables, and ergo facilitates concepts of lifelogging and fitness tracking. Sensors are truly gearing up to be the windows to the world, the bridging interface between the change in stimulus and the software algorithm which can process the change. Improved sensors, would mean more accurate readings of the stimuli, which would therefore mean a better Quantified experience in essence.



The key sensors in a phone comprise of the Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass / Magnetometer and Barometer. But recent innovations have also led to the development of more complex sensors such as proximity and light sensors, fingerprint scanners and heart rate monitors among others.

Their usage can actually extend beyond the boundaries of simple gaming and random data checks. I actually have this app on my phone which unlocks the device based on the readings from the proximity sensor. Similarly, applications like IFTTT make complete use of sensors to bring in more varied functions to a phone.



This is where things get interesting. The traditional pedometer has gotten a technological makeover and can now measure – accurately – the data collected from the wearable. This data includes heart rates, blood pressure, levels of hormones and a whole lot more. It’s a complete medical tracking suite, that fits on your wrist.

Smartwatches are coming bundled with proximity sensors and light sensors too, which can automatically change the brightness settings, thereby adding the concept of accessibility services in the equation.


Sensors have become smaller, lighter and cheaper. Which has enabled the wearables to become lighter and cheaper, which in turn makes it more comfortable for users to wear them all the time, and thereby monitor the data over prolonged periods.

And the earlier problem of battery draining due to Bluetooth has now been rectified, owing to the inclusion of Bluetooth Low Energy in wearables. All in all, sensors and technology in general are proving to be the turning points in the wearable – and data gathering – revolutions.


The sensor market is blooming, and what better proof of this than the relevant statistics!

• Here’s a statistic showing the global semiconductor industry revenue within the sensors and actuators segment, from 2012 to 2017. This figure is expected to come to $11.7 billion in sales in 2015, and is projected to grow to $13.6 billion by 2017.

(Data Source: Statista)

• This statistic depicts the worldwide semiconductor sales with sensors and actuators components from 2006 to 2012.

(Data Source: Statista)

• Finally, perhaps the most relevant stat. This is the global app sensor market size from 2012 to 2017. This mainly denotes the revenue made from sensors that are connected to an app, and the market value is projected to grow to about $5.6 billion in 2017.

(Data Source: Statista)


The world of sensors is evolving in leaps and bounds. They are becoming smaller, more powerful, more accurate and cheaper. From this trend, it is easy to predict a bright future for the arena of the Quantified Self Movement!

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