bodyMonitor_collage-filtered-1024x800Cloud, mobile, social media, wearable computing, and the internet of things are now making it possible for those who see the value of being able to quantify their lives for the sake of improving themselves. Devices and applications measuring financial, health, work, and social activities are available today. I’ve found that the data themselves don’t create change, but they do play in changing one’s behavior. There’s an adage that “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” and that applies to me. There are elements built into these apps, such as timely alerts and gamification, which involve rewards and social interactions to encourage positive changes. Of course, whether those using these devices and apps know the security implications is another topic to be discussed. With that said, below is a partial list of apps and devices I’ve personally used as part of a movement called “quantified self.”

  • Automatic driving system. This is a combination of hardware (car adapter) that is plugged into vehicles and is accompanied by a mobile app to measure driving performance and vehicle diagnostics.
  • Mint mobile app. This app provides financial data and activities that is real-time and easily accessible.
  • Toggl time tracking tool. This app allows the user to track time spent on any activity. Some co-workers have started using this app to analyze where they spend their time at work. I’ve started using this recently, and I use it mainly to analyze how much time I spend studying and doing physical activities.
  • Fitbit activity tracker. This is a wearable device that tracks activities. It has an accompanying mobile app that can be synched in real-time to provide data such as several steps and reminders of progress towards daily and weekly goals.
  • iWatch. I like many features of this new device, including notifications of text, emails, etc. A set of features I like are health-related. It has sensors that can measure heartbeat and physical activities like walking. It also has reminders (via haptic feedback) to encourage certain good habits like standing up every hour.
  • Weightwatchers mobile app. This is an app that tracks food intake, activities, and weight. Given a stated weight loss goal, the app provides the user with several “points” per day. It also has a built-in real-time chat app that provides users access to support, so if there are questions about food and activities, a user can easily connect with staff using the mobile app.

Ultimately, a person has to be motivated to change for these apps to work. I remember a quote from an Anthony Robbins book called “Awakening the Giant Within” which I read way back in the mid-1990s as I was going through a breakup that still sticks to me today. The quote goes like this, “A person will only go through a change if the prospect of change is so good they’ll want to change or their circumstance is so bad they are forced to change.”

What apps do you use?

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