An Easy Resolution: Quantify Thyself

January 6, 2014

It’s the time of year when everyone says they can hardly believe it’s already this time of year. So let me add to the chorus.

Man, I can’t believe it’s already the new year. Where did 2013 go?

Whatever happened, it’s gone, so let’s look to the future.

I generally consider it foolish to hold all of one’s plans for self-improvement until the coldest days of the year, but here is a resolution for 2014 (and well into the future) you can actually keep: the resolution to know yourself, if not by quality than at least by quantity.

I am talking about the quantified self movement and it’s so easy to join, a dog can do it.

I’ve become an adherent in a small way.

WiThingsSix months ago I bought a WiThings Smart Body Analyzer, which is essentially just a fancy name for a bathroom scale that in addition to the standard weight and body fat measurements, also tracks your resting heart rate, as well as the temperature and CO content of the air. (Bathroom scale also becomes a misnomer as WiThings recommends placing the scale, sorry, “analyzer” in your bedroom so it can track the air quality where you sleep instead of where you, well, you know.)

Upon taking these various measurements, the smart scale syncs them to the cloud over wifi. Yes, my scale has a wifi connection. I can then view how each of these data points trends over time. And knowing is half the battle.

Since making the analyzer part of my morning routine, I’ve lost about a few pounds. Not a lot, but I don’t need to lose a lot.

OK, maybe I’m not running a marathon or going to the gym every day, but if I ever resolve to do those things, I’ll have some baseline data for how I can improve.

The WiThings scale was one of the media darlings of CES last year and with CES happening this week, more of these quantified-self devices are being announced as I type this.

The $399 WiThings Aura is supposed to help you sleep and wake up.For example, there is the Aura, also from WiThings, that will supposedly measure your sleep more effectively than current offerings, while also helping to wake and send you to sleep.

The promise of better sleep is actually a big part of what attracted me to the movement in the first place, so I just might have to pick one of these up as soon as I can.

If dropping $300 for the as-yet untested claim of better sleep isn’t your idea of fun, how about a cheaper way to get started.

The Moves app does such an admirable job of tracking the steps I take that it has forestalled my desire to purchase a dedicated tracking device such as the Fitbit. It even does so without needing to strap a goofy object to myself.

This time of year means it is also almost time for the next installment of one of the all-time best infographics: the Feltron report. Each year Nicolas Felton goes to what some might consider extreme means to track every minute detail of his daily life. Last year, he revealed that he created a custom iPhone app that asks him what he is doing in order to help log all this activity.

But you don’t have to write your own software to make your own report because Felton is slowly releasing the tools he has built, including this tool to visualize data collected by Moves.

Here’s everywhere Moves tracked me in the month of December.
Everywhere I went in December.

The list of tools to track yourself is getting longer everyday, and there are many ways to get started. So what are you waiting for?