I’ve been kindly asked to do a talk in May this year at an RCN conference on the subject of health data. So I’ve decided to present a talk on the history of health data (and health data visualisation) and do a little future gazing.
I’ve got 1.5 hours to cover so while I’m going to cover the subject of turning health data into insight and look at various techniques and interesting approaches to visualising and using health data I’m also going to explore the concept of the quantified self.
When I refer to the quantified self I’m focusing on the flood of apps and devices that people are using to monitor their health including Nike Fuelband and Fitbit (there are many more now!) through to apps such as Moves and the Map my fitness.
There’s a whole industry of technology being developed, mainly for fitness and movement based applications. I would say in general, any app that changes health behaviour for the better is a good thing, it’s just that in many cases that is short lived. In time we get accustomed to collecting data and fall out of love with the pretty visuals.
While the benefits of tracking data on the self may be short lived I believe this insight leaves a legacy of understanding how we can change what we do when we see ourselves from a different perspective. Now I wonder if this is true for stress? (both good and bad stress). I’m quite interested in measuring stress or the body’s reactions to events (that’s the old Mental Health Nurse in me!). There are a few apps around however not many devices that use a range of sensors to measure bodily reactions.
This fits into a series of R&D work I’m undertaking at bITjAM (yes that was a plug!!) focusing on Pervasive sensing and user experience design; i.e measuring the body and minds reaction to events or in this case digital design.
Now to be honest I don’t need much of an excuse to tinker and play with tech, whether that’s build data visualisations, apps or hacking Internet of Things. So in true honour of the eternal tinkerer, I’ve going to build some DIY quantified self stress measuring devices and test them out.
Back at bITjAM HQ we ordered a few items from Cooking Hacks who have a range of eHealth shields and probes that work with the Raspberry Pi and Arduino. I’m looking at building a self contained unit that houses Pulse and oxygen in blood sensor (SPO2), Galvanic skin response, body temperature and ECG. Later I may add a few more sensors. Back at bITjAM HQ we also have EEG measuring devices for good measure.
Now, the reason I mention all this at the same time as writing about the talk at the RCN is based around the question, can we take the quantified self too far or too seriously? Is measuring every beating heart or reaction going too far? Are we getting obsessed with gathering data about ourselves?
I’m going to explore the topic of self data obsession while delving a little into obsessively gathering data about myself. I will be using my Nike Fuelband, Moves app on my Androind phone, Map my Bike and a little DIY body sensing tech and even strap on the EEG headgear.
All this will take place during our R&D Fridays (and a little during other spare times at weekends). First I need to build the ehealth devices up and connect to my Android device. Kettle is on, much code will be written. See you the other side.