THE (REAL) DREAM OF WEARABLE COMPUTING
How the Combination of Tracking and Big Data Will Be the Next Big Thing.
If you’re shopping for an activity tracker today, you’ll be spoiled for choice; there are trackers from Fitbit, Withings, Nike, Jawbone, and Misfit, among others, with more to come.
Activity trackers sell a great dream. Wear one, know how much you’re moving (or not moving) in a day, and get motivated to move more, become healthier and lose weight. But I’ve used a couple of these things, and the excitement over the potential personal improvement always fizzles out after a while.
The simple problem is that a machine doesn’t replace the lack of personal motivation. All activity trackers do now is tell you what you’ve already done; they don’t tell you what you should do to actually become healthier.
A tracker today might tell me how many steps today I’ve already taken, but imagine one which buzzes me to move after sitting down for too long (to be fair, some of them already have this feature). Instead of having to input my foods manually into an app, imagine a tracker which tells me during dinner that I’ve busted my caloric intake for the day and really should stop stuffing my face. Or how about a tracker which can monitor my blood, and tell me that the reason I’ve been feeling tired these last couple of days is because I haven’t been getting enough iron in my diet?
Now imagine an activity tracker which doesn’t just track your activity, but can tie up important biomarkers with big data statistics that let you know not just how active you are during the day, but how you can improve your lifestyle and diet to be at peak health.
Sounds far-fetched? Perhaps not. Before he co-created Google Glass, Babak Parviz helped develop contact lenses which could help diabetics monitor their blood sugar levels electronically without the need for needles. According to Parviz, many of the biomarkers that doctors get from blood samples are also found on the surface of the eye.
Companies like WellnessFX in the US are leading consumerdriven medical care. By providing direct access to advanced blood tests, their customers can monitor their health status via advanced biomarkers to stay in tip-top condition and reverse potential health risks before symptoms appear.
Combine the two nascent technologies together and you have the dream of wearables. Previous Pepsi and Apple CEO John Sculley kept alluding to this inevitable synergy between the future of personal sensor technology, big data and consumerdriven healthcare. I might not want to put good money down for a tracker which tells me the number of steps I take in a day, but for one which can help me lose weight, feel great, be healthier and warn me in advance of potential health problems? I’ll take one for everyone in my family.
"All activity trackers do now is tell you what you’ve already done; they don’t
tell you what you should do to actually become