The Happy New Year greeting often includes wishes for good health. The resolutions that follow in short order might refer to goals for regular exercising, weight loss, stop smoking, and a host of other items. Here at the mighty Dakeryn, a shiny new Magic Bullet has replaced the toaster in our kitchen; fruit smoothies are trending on the trading floor. Some of us have set limits for the daily caffeine fix. Sainas has even embarked on a 12-day cleanse. Our table at Sailor Hagar’s now sits vacant ’til February.
Over Christmas, I discovered Time Magazine’s 100 New Health Discoveries. Turns out there’s no limits to where technology could take a guy’s personal health management habits this year. It comes under the heading of Quantified Self, which, for the uninitiated, is what you become when you obsessively track every possible measure of your health, in real time. It’s the kind of development that plays into the wheel-house of high-paced wholesale lumber distribution trading offices. The emergence of the Quantified Self was affirmed in 2013 by the buzz it created at the South By Southwest Interactive Festival, a launching pad for such earlier technology phenoms as Twitter and Instagram.
It has to do with a new generation of medical monitoring devices, originally meant to evaluate patients in the hospital, that have been made over into sexier, wearable versions for the health-conscious or health curious. It’s sophisticated and personalized health monitoring, that may be generating a lot of information that we are still learning to interpret. Example: BodyMedia is a maker of wearable body-monitoring systems that has expanded its products from medical research sector to consumer devices.
The sensors that are embedded in wearable devices such as arm or wrist bands collect data which have the potential to tell you more about your body in relation to activities you might be engaged in than you ever dreamed possible. How the data is interpreted remains an open question. What does it mean if your wrist band, or some other fancy body app spits out unique series of medical data related to blood pressure, heart rhythm or kidney function that is uniquely different when you’re closing an order of DakDek in the Northeast than the results produced during an export order to China?
So far, we’re told the benefits of body monitoring devices tend to come in the form of the support users get from joining online communities. Most of the devices connect to smartphones and allow users to download or share the data collected within social networks of like-minded, data-curious people who want to broadcast and analyze their latest blood-pressure or skin-conductivity numbers. Maybe it will tell us if the mill sales manager’s blood pressure tends to soar in sync with our own when a late shipment is cause for concern. Or not.