Thursday, September 12, 2013

6 ways personal data tracking is getting easier

Automation is key with personal analytics, because people are too busy and too lazy to self-record everything, despite increasing numbers of mobile apps trying to make it easier.

Actively self-tracking also introduces errors and reporting bias.  You're more likely to remember recording your mood when you're miserable than when you're neutral, or slightly happy. Here's how it will get easier:

1. Ubiquitous sensors
The Internet of Things will be busy learning about you. Expect a deluge of sensors in every home and every object.  Your phone already collates data on when and where you travel, expect your car and GPS to do likewise.

2. Wearable computers
Google Glass and its rivals have a key role to play, even more so when they can reliably interpret commands given through brainwaves.

3. "Old skool" devices
Pedometers, heart rate monitors, sleep monitors and others will get increasingly connected, transmitting data automatically, in realtime, much like the FitBit.

4. Social mining
Social media networks are already gathering up vast realms of data on users, the next step is grabbing this yourself and taking a look. Give Me My Data, which lets you extract and visualise your existing Facebook data.

5. Smart meters
Already going into homes, the same meter that helps you use energy more efficiently will also be able to tell you about your life: when you're up, how often you cook, how much longer you shower when it's cold.

6. Data interfacing
Mint grabs data from your different financial accounts, so there's no need to add it separately. Similarly you authorise various apps to automatically mine and analyse your Facebook data, or your Google history.

So you've discovered that you sleep longer after eating tomatoes, that your mood is higher when you've seen more yellow, and that you drive faster on days you send less tweets. The question then is what do you do with all these insights?

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