The Data and Context Problem

Reviews | Thoughts By 4 years ago

You measure your steps, your heart rate, your sleep, your weight. You monitor what you eat and what you drink. You feel naked without your body tracker, anxious without your smart scale and inefficient without waking up at the optimal time using your mobile app.

Your life is a constant story of data being measured in every way, a series of numbers and graphs giving you a detailed understanding of nearly everything we can possibly know without going into a hospital and having a full-day of testing (which some people do).

You know nearly everything there is to know about how your body works but in fact you know absolutely nothing. They are numbers, thats it.

A series of numbers that maybe tell you to go to bed earlier or take a few more steps everyday. But why is it that you need to? What difference will doing any of that actually make to your life. Will your overall health improve? What even makes up your overall health?

What we have here is data without context, knowledge without understanding. Useful data that is basically going to waste. You are looking through the peephole at only one small facet of your life but failing to see how everything else connects, the whole picture.

To create the bigger picture you need context, which can be through effective processing and/or collecting and consolidating other data to create a more unified understanding.

This can be achieved showing the bigger picture and letting the user see how everything connects or by offering a specific service using existing hardware and data to provide insights raw data alone can’t provide.

An example of the latter is oneaura, an iPhone app that syncs up with heart-rate monitors to provide insight into circulation and metabolism, both key indicators to your overall health and wellbeing. The app shows in -real-time how well you are exercising, how healthy you are living and whether you are burning fat throughout the day. These insights alone are useful, but when understood in context of the critical role circulation and metabolism play in overall health, the data becomes even more useful. For instance, they both directly correlate with heart disease,with better results correlating with lower chances of suffering from heart disease.

What oneaura is doing is giving real actionable context to pre-existing data. They are not inventing new hardware, they are simply processing what can already be tracked and understanding it in a more useful way.

For the brilliant potential of wearable tech and the quantified self movement to be realised there needs to be more companies like oneaura, companies that are taking numbers and telling stories that actually mean something.