Strata Gems: A sense of self

Network-connected sensors track your fitness

We’re publishing a new Strata Gem each day all the way through to December 24. Yesterday’s Gem: Clojure is a language for data.

Strata 2011 The data revolution isn’t just about big data. The smallest data can be the most important to us, and nothing more so than tracking our own activities and fitness. While standalone pedometers and other tracking devices are nothing new, today’s devices are network-connected and social.

Android phones and iPhones are fitted with accelerometers, and work well as pedometers and activity monitors. RunKeeper is one application that takes advantage of this, along with GPS tracking, to log runs and rides. FitFu takes things a step further, mixing monitoring with fitness instruction and social interaction.

Phones, however ubiquitous, are still awkward to use for full-time fitness tracking. With a much smaller form factor, the Fitbit is a sensor you clip to your clothes. Throughout the day it records your movement, and at night it can sense whether you wake. With a long battery life and wireless syncing, it’s the least intrusive device currently available for measuring your activity.

Fitbit data
An extract from the author’s Fitbit data

Fitbit are working on delivering an API for access to your own data, but in the meantime there’s an unofficial API available.

Withings produce a wi-fi enabled scale, that records weight and body mass index, uploading the data to their web site and making it available for tracking on the web or a smartphone.

The next step for these services is to move towards an API and interoperation. Right now, Fitbit requires you manually enter your own weight, and diet plans such as WeightWatchers aren’t able to import your weight or activity from the other services.

For much more on recording and analyzing your own data, check out Quantified Self.

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