The Future is Quantified: Convergence of Trends


The Connected Life

Where social, mobile, big data and the Internet of Things come together will shape the future. CEO and tech analyst Ray Wang of Constellation Research Group says, “The convergence of the trends is when it becomes interesting.”

I think the Quantified Self movement is where all these trends converge, and I believe the future will be quantified.


What is Quantified Self?

Quantified Self is personal self-tracking of daily habits and behaviors through quantitative tools and apps in order to effect positive life change. Some people also opt to share their data socially on social media platforms, or anonymously on data-collecting sites like Quantified Self started as a blog by Wired journalists Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly. It has grown into a movement and community that includes a resource site including 400 apps, a forum, a conference, and an upcoming book.


Quantified Self is about “self-knowledge through numbers” as Wolf explains in this 5-minute, 11-second TED video.

“We usually associate self-knowledge not with numbers but with words — a kind of inner voice of consciousness and conscience. Supplementing that with quantitative tools is one of the most interesting trends emerging in our culture,” says Gary Wolf.

Stephen Wolfram of Wolfram Research made quite a stir across the social web with his post, “The Personal Analytics of My Life”, “One day I’m sure everyone will routinely collect all sorts of data about themselves…now I have what is probably one of the world’s largest collections of personal data.” It is a fascinating read.

Stephen Wolfram The Personal Analytics of My Life

“As personal analytics develops, it’s going to give us a whole new dimension to experiencing our lives. At first it all may seem quite nerdy…But it won’t be long before it’s clear how incredibly useful it all is—and everyone will be doing it, and wondering how they could have ever gotten by before. And wishing they had started sooner, and hadn’t ‘lost’ their earlier years,” says Wolfram.


Innovation for healthcare

“Where all this really starts to click is when payers start to offer direct incentives to patients for healthy behaviors,” says Scott Mace of HealthLeaders. In “At SXSW, Hipsters Look for Healthcare Tech Tipping Point,” he cites a new initiative by Humana called HumanaVitality where patients upload biometric screenings and receive rewards as well as a sobering Vitality Age to see how their lifestyle is affecting their health.

Innovation thought leader Clay Christensen says that although technically the future can’t be quantified–because data is part of the past–you can take action predicated upon a theory, and with a good theory, “You can actually see the future very clearly.”


The Internet of Things will have 24 billion connected devices by 2020

The quantitative tools to track this data are tied to “the Internet of Things” or “IoT.” Gartner has proclaimed IoT as a megatrend.

”We are in the early stages of the Internet of Things, the much anticipated era when all manner of devices can talk to each other and to intermediary services,” according to Alex Salkever in “The Internet of Things and the Cloud.”

GSMA The Connected Life by 2020

While Forrester Research predicted each person will be connected to 140 devices by 2013, GSMA says there are 9 billion connected devices at present, and “the Internet of things will have 24 billion devices by 2020.” Look for many of these devices to be collecting health data or connected to health and medical devices in the home, the hospital or the wider environment.


A mobile, Post-PC world

It’s hard to imagine that the iPad didn’t even exist only two years ago, and now more than 40 million have been sold. With the iPad, we saw a Super Mobile revolution that launched the BYOD, “Bring Your Own Device”, trend and a Post-PC world.

Worldwide Media Tablet Shipments iOS 2010-2016The “new” iPad goes on sale, March 16th, and is still “King of the Tablets.” However, sales for Q3 2011 show Apple dropping in worldwide tablet marketshare for the first time–impacted by the Kindle Fire. A new study by the IDC predicts Android and iOS will split the tablet market share in half by 2016, with other manufacturers holding a marginally small share.

Alex Cocotas of BI Intelligence predicts that smartphone sales will be twice that of PC sales this year and that smartphone sales will reach 1.5 billion units by 2016.


Working on the future quantified

Rock Health is the first seed accelerator for digital health startups looking to create an ecosystem for meaningful change in healthcare through innovative technology. Leslie Ziegler, who is a co-founder of Rock Health, recently made a New Year’s Resolution, “2012 is my personal year of quantified self. After several well-intentioned but poorly executed attempts to understand my food intake, sleep, exercise, etc., I’m committing to a steady diet of apps, devices, scales, wristbands, tests and tools for the year.”

Quantified Self Tools

Ziegler’s says her goal is, “to first get a baseline of my physiology and overall health, then find small easy changes (think BJ Fogg’s 3 Tiny Habits) and continue to ferret out amazing new companies.” She adds, “I’m especially interested in tools with the ability to export data, those with an iPhone and/or web app component, completely passive tracking (sensors are tip top) and anything else with a major cool factor or life-changing potential.”

Look for an update in my next post featuring Leslie Ziegler of Rock Health for my series, “Women of mHealth”, woman entrepreneurs in healthcare technology.

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HealthIsCool is a writer and trends analyst. She writes about health innovation, wearable tech, the Internet of Things (IoT), new health technologies, and future trends. Her latest trends research includes: The Rise of Wearable Technology and Google's Ambitions in Healthcare. Follow on Twitter at @HealthIsCool.

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