The Personal API

Let’s get a version of this available for everyone.

A week ago Naveen, one of the founders of Foursquare, released an “API” of his personal data. Tracking his sleep, weight, steps, fuel/activity and checkins, you can programatically access and use his bioinfo for pretty much anything you want. As far as I know, this type of access to someone’s personal health & fitness info has never been done before. Kudos to Naveen for taking the first step.

After thinking about it for the past week, I’m convinced this idea has the potential to be massive. By all measures, wearable tech is hot right now. Google Glass, Fitbit, Jawbone, etc. have all shown that there’s incredible demand for things that automatically track what we do. This is all well and good, but all this data is siloed from one another. And after spending 6 months in Chile with the SmashRun team for Start-Up Chile, I’m very aware of all the difficulties that come along with synchronizing with each provider. They’ve all got their own standards, and trying to grab data from each is a nightmare. Even Naveen talks about the difficulties normalizing the data from different sources.

Which is why we need a central service for our personal data. Each silo gives you pretty graphs about their data, but it’s nothing compared to what you could have if everything was brought together. Almost like Facebook Connect, but all about our bioinfo. Just think about the applications that could be built with such a centralized, normalized data source.

  1. Instantly having all fitness & health apps customized to your personal profile.
  2. Being able to go to a doctor and provide detailed and extensive info about you and your habits on the spot.
  3. Receiving daily reports that give you insight into how you’re doing, combining data from multiple sources to accomplish this.
  4. Push notifications when you start to stray from a healthy lifestyle and the best way to get back on track.

And the best part is, with this much highly personal data, access to the API could easily be free while still building a very profitable company.

The privacy aspect of this will naturally be a tough obstacle to overcome, but as long as I feel like the company has my best interests at heart, I’ll trust them with my data. I expect there’s enough others like me to get something off the ground.

So whether it’s Naveen, RunKeeper’s HealthGraph, or someone else that creates this personal API, sign me up for the beta. I don’t care if it’s a bit clunky at first, I just want this to exist. I’m tired of keeping track of my personal data manually.