The Quantified WHAT?

An Introduction To The Why and How of Quantifying Yourself

Wrist-based wearables are one of the most convenient ways to get started

What is The Quantified Self?

You’ve probably heard about this thing called the quantified self by now, but just to be sure, here’s the quick version. The Quantified Self is a recent movement that is based on a longstanding trend of tracking information about oneself. This has been happening since the beginning of time, but has recently transitioned into the digital sphere with wearables and sensors slowly making their way into every aspect of our lives.

The quantified self is about obtaining self-knowledge through self-tracking.

Why Quantify?

So what’s the point? It boils down to collecting data about yourself that allows you to live a better life. This can be as easy as tracking your finances through a budget, your weight or height in a notebook, or as complicated as creating massive databases with thousands of data points across every aspect of your health.

The purpose remains the same, to live a better life.

Why Now?

The popular logic is that the price of sensors has gone down, hence the adoption of said sensors has gone up. I think what’s more important is that we are all living in a convergence moment where consumer electronics, personalized healthcare and computing power, in the form of artificial intelligence, are coming together to make healthcare personal. We’ve been promised this by the medical profession for most of our lives, but now, we are close to realizing this future.

But, the only way to ensure you and your family will enjoy this trend is by collecting data today.

A lot of people I speak with say, ‘what will you do with all the data?’ They’re right to be skeptical, because at the moment, our data sets aren’t perfect and doctors aren’t equipped to make sense of these huge data sets… yet! But the day where your doctor will REQUIRE you to sync your data before making an appointment aren’t far off.

It will become mandatory to have consistent data sets for doctors and insurance providers to support you.

It seems like this is should almost be a responsibility. Think how much more I would know about my health if my parents had been tracking their medical data. I would know EXACTLY what I was predisposed to, what lifestyle habits translate to adopt or avoid, and could possibly limit issues that I’ve had to deal with already.

We can know so much more about ourselves if we quantify.

How To Get Started Today

Don’t let any of this overwhelm you. It’s easy to get started. Actually, I bet you already have. Do you have a smartphone? If you have an iPhone, you’ve already been tracking your steps, walking + running distance, and flights climbed (if not more).

But there is a lot more you can do. My advice is to begin with a wearable that has a heart rate monitor. Having worked at Apple for six years, I have opted for the Apple Watch (though I’ve tired Nike’s, Samsung’s and others). Having a wearable with a heart rate sensor allows you to track your active and resting energy (calories) burned, you’re standing hours, and heart exertion range. Not bad for just wearing something on your wrist.

From there, I’d recommend listening to a podcast for an overview and see just how interested you are in going deeper:

You’re not alone! The next important thing is to go to a local Quantified Self meet-up! This is a brave new world and having others to help learn and share with is critical.

I will post a deeper Quantified Self post later and will continue to build the Hong Kong Quantified Self meet-up. Please ask questions and share. I’m here to help and learn from all of you.