It seems like no matter where you look someone is using a fitness tracker. They come in all shapes and sizes, from smartwatches to Fitbits, heart rate monitors on gym machines, apps that track your diet, and even Internet-enabled scales in our bathrooms. We are obsessed with health, but more importantly, we seem to be obsessed with tracking data related to our health. But by the end of the day, where do all of our heartbeat, calorie, steps, and other data recordings end up? Someone is certainly paying for that data, but are we seeing any of the profit for all of the work that we’ve put into tracking?
With various products on the market, it’s a surprise that no one has combined the process of recording health data and storing/sharing it with interested parties in a way that the user can benefit from. Blockchain technology gives us the ability to track and account for data in ways we haven’t been logistically able to in the past, and these advancements are making their way into the health data industry. We are so quick nowadays to give our data away in so many facets of our lives, never even questioning the potential profits that such data could earn. There are now devices that enable health data tracking and recording on a blockchain, and some companies are even venturing to give customers complete ownership over their health data profile.
Fitness and Metabolic Companies
Health and fitness is important for everyone, from top-tier athletes to the elderly and young children. There are too many problems that plague our bodies, many of which we cannot change, but fitness and general health levels are often completely in our control. Metabolic and health data recording companies have typically catered to athletes in the past, but in the last decade personal health tracking has increased in popularity with step recording and workout apps designed for the masses. For true readings, however, more advanced devices are necessary.
There are a variety of devices on the market, such as the K5 (made by Cosmed), the Metamax 3B (made by Cortex), and DYNOSTICS (made by DYNOSTICS) that fulfill the more advanced features that some users may seek. These devices are full spectrum metabolistic analyzers, their key features being:
- Analysis of breath input and output to determine lung efficiency
- Base heart rate monitoring
- ECG (stress test) overtime monitoring
These devices require that the user wear a form-fitting mask over their mouths to ensure that all intake and output is recorded, and in the case of the K5 and the Metamax 3B, the user must also carry the computing/measurement device on their chest or back. In order to operate these devices the user either has to have extensive knowledge on the product itself, or have access to someone who is trained in the field. DYNOSTICS, on the other hand, is a bit more user friendly and condensed in size. It can be worn on the user’s arm in the same way you’d wear a smartphone while exercising, and it doesn’t require technical or medical knowledge to operate.
Given that these systems are typically very expensive, it isn’t likely that the average health enthusiast will be able to access and benefit from such a metabolistic analysis. In the case of Cosmed, there are testing sites located around the world that users can visit, as well as various retailers that offer access to Cosmed’s Bod Pod (a body composition assessment machine). The accessibility of Cortex’s Metamax 3B is almost certainly limited to universities, top-tier athletes, and doctors specializing in the metabolistic analysis field. DYNOSTICS offers a bit more of an affordable solution, but users would most likely have to join a club or gym that already held the licenses and gear in order to use the systems.
Although these devices create extensive data tables for athletes, their doctors, or their coaches to inspect; in the case of Cosmed and Cortex that data is restricted in its usability. Given that Cosmed and Cortex are both large health data companies, they require the user to access the data through their specialized software. These two companies sell their units as a package, which includes a laptop with the necessary software, and typically the easiest way to read the data is with a print-off after the test is complete.
The data is not easy to incorporate into other systems, which is unfortunate, since it limits the overall usefulness of the tests in general.
Metabolistic data recording is key for investigating personal health, and all of these companies accomplish the same goal through various devices. However, what happens to this data after it is recorded? Who owns it, who has rights to use it, and who should be allowed to sell it? Ensuring that data is stored safely, accessed only by the appropriate parties, and stripped of the necessary personal information before being distributed is absolutely essential in a world where more and more health data is being accumulated every year.
Health Data Distribution
Health data is a sensitive topic, a secret that many of us guard closely, and with an increasing number of data breaches occurring every year, shouldn’t users want their data stored somewhere safer than some online database? In the current system, users have little control over their health data, whether that be the data derived from a step tracker or the data that kept in a cabinet at the doctor’s office. And while you can’t take the doctor’s medical records home with you, you can at least have full control over who sees the data taken from your step tracker.
A current leading idea on how to best secure and give users control over their data is to implement a blockchain solution. Similar to a cryptocurrency, imagine that the user’s data is the specific cryptocurrency, while their wallet is where their personal userdata is stored. They maintain a profile and can provide access to this data to third-party companies/organizations as they see fit, and at the price they choose. Lympo offers such a solution by storing user data on Lympo’s blockchain and allowing them to sell their information on the exchange for LYM tokens. The beauty of storing this information on the blockchain is that users can decide who has access to their data and who doesn’t, all without having to trust a third-party security system. LYM tokens will be used to:
- Purchase goods and services on the Lympo marketplace
- Access more than 500 fitness professionals
- Seek dietary and workout consultation for specific health and exercise needs
- Purchase health and exercise products, applications, and programs
The Lympo marketplace, if the users agree to have their data accessed, will be able to provide customized expert opinions on the users’ workout routines, fitness schedules, diets, and more. This type of network is a positive way to use all of the collected user health data while giving them control over their information. However, Lympo is lacking in market utilization since they aren’t bringing any of their own data collection methods to the field.
The real benefit of user controlled data shows itself when the data is extremely personal and worth as much to research companies as it is to the owner. Although Lympo provides the ability to store and sell data, they have no way to generate it. DYNOSTICS, on the other hand, is bringing to market their own state-of-the-art metabolistic analyzing machine that will fuel data on their DYNO blockchain. This baseline of intricate data will tempt companies with huge incentives, far more than what smartwatch apps, step trackers, and basic heart rate monitors can provide (the DYNO blockchain will incorporate these as well).
The DYNOSTICS analyzer is already being used by Red Bull, and having a company of this stature embracing the technology will provide trust to other companies who are considering investing. DYNOSTICS and Lympo are similar in theory, but DYNOSTICS has a bit of a market advantage thanks to their Red Bull affiliation and the launching of their own metabolistic analysis device. But regardless of what company is doing it, the important thing is that data collection is coupled with user data rights and control.
The Future of Health Data Devices
Companies like Cosmed and Cortex are amazing at what they do (metabolistic data collection), but when it comes to managing that data, they lose focus. These companies have developed extremely advanced procedures to analyze the human body under stress; data that is useful for individual athletes during their training, or for doctors when diagnosing a patient. But tying that data into greater, more secure databases and giving the users control over who can access and learn from it is a crucial next step.
Massive amounts of data typically helps to speed up the research process, and giving users extra kickbacks for sharing their data is a great incentive to ensure companies and universities alike have access to the information they need.
About the author:
Kirill Shilov — Founder of Geekforge.io and Howtotoken.com. Interviewing the top 10,000 worldwide experts who reveal the biggest issues on the way to technological singularity. Join my #10kqachallenge: GeekForge Formula.