By Rebecca Lake
Technology's imprint is everywhere you look these days — from Amazon dash buttons to order laundry detergent to wireless tea kettles to smart light bulbs and water faucets — and new innovations seem to arrive on the scene daily. Human beings are now more connected to one another and services than ever before. These technological advancements are also helping us to be more in tune to ourselves.
The "Quantified Self" movement, often referred to as lifelogging, centers on the idea that we can use technology to promote self-knowledge. As new tech capabilities emerge, this movement is having a significant impact on the way humans manage our day-to-day lives.
When it comes to the application of technology and the quantification of the human experience, no stone is left unturned. For example:
Besides monitoring your moods, capturing special moments, and tracking your to-do list, there's an expansive market for quantified apps and wearable tech designed to help you improve your health. FitBit is one of the most recognizable examples. FitBit wearers are using tech to measure the number of steps they walk in a day, their heart, the quality of their sleep, and similar personal metrics.
While the apps and tools mentioned here work differently, they all have the same goal: to give their users a data-driven picture of where they are so they can work toward self-improvement.
The quantified self movement has grown beyond just an individual experience. Industries like insurance and health care, for example, are increasingly seeing the influence of data-focused technology.
In 2014, for example, Deloitte estimated that 1 in 6 doctor visits would be virtual, with approximately 100 million e-visits taking place worldwide. An extension of quantified self technology, new apps like Heal are reviving the concept of the house call in selected cities across the U.S. Now, you can use your smartphone to diagnose your symptoms and get a doctor to treat them on-demand.
Meanwhile life insurance, health insurance, and car insurance providers are understandably taking an interest in the quantified self movement. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Progressive, Allstate, and State Farm are incorporating tracking devices to monitor their customers' driving habits. The data is used to determine what kind of premium a particular driver should pay.
Aetna recently announced that it would make available Apple watches to selected large employers and individual customers and would subsidize a portion of the cost of the device. The company also said it would provide Apple watches to roughly 50,000 of its own employees at a no cost as part of its wellness reimbursement plan. The idea in both cases is that wearers will be able to monitor their own health and potentially keep health care costs down.
While there are scores of apps and wearable products already on the market, there's certainly room for expansion. Personal finance apps are one area that's ripe for new development.
Apps like Mint and Prosper Daily , for instance, allow you to track expenses and income. BBVA Compass' Wallet app enables users to manage payment cards, track purchases, and even redeem rewards from their mobile phone.
Other apps make it possible to manage your investment portfolio in a streamlined way.
What these apps don't do, however, is incorporate real-time data to help you make better decisions with your money.
Wallet.AI is an example of what may be the next wave in financial quantification. The app is designed to help users gain a clearer understanding of their spending habits using location-based data so you can spend intelligently.
As technology becomes even more sophisticated, it seems likely that the "quantified self" movement will maintain its forward momentum. Where it goes next is anyone's guess but for now, the possibilities appear to be virtually limitless.