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The Quantified Self

Building a Better You Through Data

August 13, 2015

It’s a concept elite athletes have known for years - if you want to improve performance, measure it.

And this concept doesn’t just apply to their individual race times. Serious athletes often extend it to encompass every aspect of their lives - keeping detailed records of their diet, sleep patterns, resting heart rates, and everything else - in order to track their progress and gain an edge on the competition.

Maintaining these records was a time-consuming process but worth it for a competitive athlete where small advantages meant the difference between victory and defeat. But now mobile apps and wearable technology have made the recording of health indicators less labor-intensive and a practical route for the average citizen to improve his or her health.

Our information age has created reams of quantifiable data and companies are now springing up to help us make sense of it all and improve our health. Here are five apps and technologies that show the most promise in leading us in the path to optimal health:

1. The Informative Sock

Sensoria combines mobile and wearable technology to act as your own personal running coach. For users, the process is nearly invisible - simply don a pair of specially designed socks and bring along a mobile device to listen to music while you run.

During the run, the Sensoria app synchronizes with, and takes data from, the socks to track users’ cadence and running style. By analyzing foot landing and contact patterns, users are given actionable information that can be used to prevent injury and improve performance. Sensoria also tracks a user’s heart rate, calories burned, distance, speed, pace, ascent, descent, altitude, and steps. Because it synchronizes with the socks, the software provides more accurate data than most running apps.

2. A Run for Charity

Those who need a little goading to go for a run might want to look into Charity Miles, an app that raises money for a charity of your choice from corporate sponsors. Once activated, the app tracks your distance and the money earned for the charity. Bikers can earn at up to 10 cents and runners up to 25 cents a mile. Charities include the Wounded Warrior Project, Habitat for Humanity, and The Nature Conservancy.

3. Feed Your Need For Data

The app for people who can’t get enough raw data, the Argus app from Azumio tracks and quantifies just about every aspect of your day from caloric intake, movement, heart rate, and more to provide users with a actionable daily report.

What’s the point? Gathering this data allows users to understand and spot the trends in their daily lives and use this information to make better daily decisions - for example, does a user regularly eat more on a specific day? Users can also plot any two variables to find patterns over time.

4. Needles No More

One of the most dreaded moments in any visit to the doctor is getting stuck with a needle. Now developers and scientists are teaming up at Sano Intelligence to create a biometric sensor that will continuously monitor important markers in the user's body chemistry and provide insight into what’s happening inside, without having to get poked with needles. While still a work in progress, the technology is expected to be a boon to the needle-phobic everywhere, children and parents alike.

5. Tracking and Alleviating Chronic Pain

Chronic pain from injuries, surgical procedures and the like affect close to 100 million Americans, and treatment costs the medical industry up to $635 billion annually. Now an app from Brigham and Women’s Hospital is providing sufferers with a tool to help them manage the condition and, hopefully, reduce costly, unhelpful office visits.

Once a day, users of the app are prompted to answer questions about pain levels, mood, and activity. Data is also collected using a FitBit to gain objective data like heart rate. Using this recorded history of data, users can then examine and find patterns.

The app also features a messaging system that allows patients to send questions to their health care provider on bad days. Doctors can talk the patient through the event and, hopefully, avoid office visits and expensive, unnecessary tests.

If your company is seeking a way to implement its new, big data idea then it’s time to call the MTC Team. At MTC we take your tech vision and goals and make them a reality.

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