As experience designers, we tend to focus our attention on others. We study their analytics and then set out to improve their understanding, moods, and overall performance, using various types of software and hardware. But what about studying ourselves?
I’ve been a data nerd since I was old enough to put a pencil to paper and start logging dates and number. Spreadsheets made it simpler, as did my ability to quickly plot data on graphs. And now it’s even easier to keep track of all kinds of personal health data:
- My Fitbit digital pedometer counts my steps.
- A GPS+heart rate strap tracks my path and heart rate while I’m sea kayaking and snowboarding.
- I export my daily blood pressure via USB from a blood pressure cuff.
- Even my scale is wifi enabled!
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any nerdier, I stumbled onto Nicholas Felton’s “Personal Annual Report”
This guy’s work is amazing! He logs just about EVERYTHING: Time in the air, towns visited, ratio of subway to taxi trips, days spent in transit, etc. (BTW: I used to commute daily by train to college and calculated that I spent over 34 days of my life sitting on the train over the course of 4 years.)
Apparently I’m not alone in my quest to log my personal data (even if I don’t share it with the world in an annual report). There’s a great website resource called Quantified Self
, that discusses heart rate monitors, GPS, sleep trackers, daily mood logs, brain scanning, and more.
This stuff is mind-boggling. I mean, who wouldn’t want to use a smartphone to do a brain scan
There’s even a Quantified Self conference
Sept 15-16, 2012 at Stanford University.
As designers, what does tracking this kind of personal data teach us? How can this type of data logging inspire us to set new goals, choose healthier habits, come up with innovative ideas, and design more effective applications? Can this help our customers’ designs in the future?