The ability to discover trends and correlations in our physical movements and health measurements will push analytical tools towards a centralization of tracker data. Funding for this emerging sector is exploding.
After Google’s recent unveiling of Android Wear and Apple’s 2013 introduction of the iPhone 5S’ M7 co-processor dedicated to motion tracking, the notion of the “quantified self” has taken an enormous step towards mainstream adoption and acceptance. While previously constrained to dedicated devices, such as the Nike+iPod kits and Fitbit activity trackers, introduced in 2006 and late-2008 respectively, tracking our physical movements and activities at a very granular level will likely become even more pervasive as developers begin to utilize both of these new platforms.
Widespread dissemination of physical data collection hardware is vital to the next crop of startups that aim to harvest and analyze both individuals’ as well as society’s collective physical data-stream. This post will outline what may transpire in the shift from the “quantified self” to the “quantified collective” and which startups stand to benefit from the explosion of wearables.
The Quantified Collective
Quantified self devices can primarily be characterized as those that are worn or clipped to one’s person and automatically measure (steps, distance, stairs, sleep, etc) and sync their data to a mobile device or computer for additional analysis or viewing. Several great examples surfaced with the Datafox platform include Fitbit, Basis, Jawbone, Withings, Misfit Wearables, Nike, and even Garmin. While there have been several attempts to utilize the enormous amounts of tracker data in a collective fashion (Fitbit’s benchmarking comparison), the vast majority of information has remained siloed away in each tracker manufacturer’s data warehouse.
As additional tracking devices come to market, the ability to discover trends and correlations in our physical movements and health measurements will push analytical tools towards a centralization of tracker data. As a recent digital health report by RockHealth indicates, funding for this sector is exploding. Several startups on the Datafox platform have already begun to explore this new frontier:
A beautifully designed Bluetooth thermometer that plugs into any iPhone to take an individual’s temperature. Perhaps most interesting is its collectivization of temperature recordings amongst individual schools and geographic areas to better inform parents of whether their child’s illness is individual or communal in nature.
Using an application that runs constantly in the background, select healthcare partners are utilizing data patterns generated by individual’s smartphone usage to predict and understand what may trigger patients’ symptoms or relapses. While Ginger.io currently helps monitor individuals, it would appear natural that the next evolution of the platform would be to monitor both the individual and the communities relating to a specific illness.
Dabo provides a big-data platform for hospitals and care providers to analyze and benchmark any number of metrics, aiming to improve quality of care and reduce individual patient costs. While this has been previously available at an individual organization level, the ability to compare internal metrics to peer care providers is a radically new concept.
To A More Quantified Society
While these startups bring together disparate data sources of individuals, health care policy has yet to allow the comprehensive aggregation of societal health data due to potential privacy ramifications. This combination of society-wide quantified self-data, correlated with electronic medical records and patients’ histories, will be an incredible resource for healthcare researchers after privacy standards are finalized.
Be sure to check out the full Datafox Watchlist which compiles over 15 companies in the quantified self space.
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