Quantified Self Takeaways on Data Usability

The WellnessFX team took to the first Quantified Self conference (and corresponding Twitter dialogue) last weekend for discussions about the usability of data, tracking devices and platforms, and more data. The conference was interesting with a lot of small fluid breakout discussion groups, and about half of the QS activity seemed to be focused on human health.

These were among the trends shared by self trackers and researchers in Mountain View:

1) Quantified Self data compared with more traditional doctor data: Fred Trotter led the discussion group of about 20 people and talked about the ways that self tracking disrupts Electronic Health Records and the forthcoming Obama Health Data standards. Interested? You can see more at DirectProject.org. Venture capitalist/technologists John Doerr and Esther Dyson took part.

2) Data visualization: As sensors decrease in price and increase in sophistication, the opportunity to generate individual data through a variety of means is expanding exponentially. Without a universal standard for how this information might all be monitored together, there is a need for data collection on personal dashboards. Allowing people to summarize and understand disparate and complex data sets at a glance will require development of clear data visualization tools for individuals (which happens to be exactly what the WellnessFX team is working on).

3) Games for health and happiness: A discussion of game mechanics included a large audience discussing possible ways that game mechanics could be used for various health apps, though current examples weren’t abundant.

4) DIY Antiaging: This group was focused on which commercially available tests, drugs, supplements, and practitioners were available for consumers who wanted to take things into their own hands. The group of 50 seemed frustrated with the difficultly and roadblocks in the current system.

Resources we especially enjoyed were Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Executive about personal biology hacking and David Ewing Duncan of Experimental Man fame giving information on quantifying mercury risk. We’ll be covering more large-scale dialogue in the QS and personal health space in upcoming months (and look out for us at LOHAS for discussions of health and sustainability in June).

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