Measuring the failure of my quantified self

It can’t keep up

I’ve always been interested in data, technology and their intersection in life, so I guess it wasn’t a surprise when I fell down the rabbit hole of the qualified self.

I started with Nike+ running watch, flirted with Adidas’ miCoach, got more serious with a Jawbone tracker, was waylaid by a couple of Beurer fitness watches, and then moved swiftly through three Fitbits — four if you include the scales — plus a Moto 360 and an Apple Watch.

Yet, now the only ones I use regularly are the running watch (sort of) and the scales.

The reasons are numerous and multifaceted.

The miCoach was too specific and complicated (and no longer supported), the Jawbone broke, during a trip to humid Shanghai my Fitbit gave me the dreaded wrist rash, which — two years on — I still get after a week or so of wear, even though I’ve upgraded to a Charge.

As for smartwatches, who can be bothered to charge them?

The real deal

More important than the devices, though, the supporting software has failed to impress. Incredibly, Nike’s update to its Nike+ site not only wiped settings which I can’t restore, but also wiped data and disfigured what previously had been a functional experience. Typically I now can’t be bothered to upload my runs.

And the item I used the most — the Fitbit scales — seems increasingly inaccurate, varying my weight by up to 2 kg in consecutive weighings.

Which brings me to the conclusion that not only is the hardware often uncomfortable to wear for long periods, but I’m less than convinced about its accuracy, and have no confidence in the software support or my ability to extract any raw data that would be useful for me, in say, 5 years time.

The next pulse

Now, this isn’t to say I’ve given up on the qualified self. I’m about to do my first Thriva blood test and I am eyeing up the Spire new breath and fitness tracker. Old habits…

But, in terms of recording basic data (and for future use), I may just get a clipboard and on a piece of paper, record my into and out of bed times, weekly weight, plus the start and stop times for the same 6km running route I always take.

When you’ve got routine, you don’t need anything smarter.