August 30, 2012
Quantified Self Meet-up Nr. 5 in Munich
Tuesday 19 o’clock was the 5th Meet-up of the Munich Quantified-Self group. For myself it was my first Quantified Self Meet-up it was also a return to Munich which I had last visited over 10 years ago. I was quite excited about the possible new Quantified Self related insights and different point of views that would be voiced at this meeting.
Quantified Self is a movement which was started in the US by Wired Magazine editors Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly in 2007 as a collaboration of users and tool makers who share an interest in self knowledge through self-tracking.
This meet-up was kindly organized by Florian Schumacher who blogs in German and English about Health and Personal data on igrowdigital.com. The event was physically hosted by the local co-working office space called Combinat 56 in Munich city. Actually the Combinat 56 co-working space has some very modern and well-equipped offices with a big meeting room. The meet-up took place in this meeting room and like the rain outside the room slowly began to fill up, with people until we started with the session at about 19:10 o’clock.
Roman Kling (blondbanana und Goalympia) started with a quick and interesting presentation about his recent experiences with the mobile Nike+ FuelBand device and the brand new Nike running shoes with left and right sole feet sensors. Both are not yet available in Europe but only in the US, as usual. Roman said that personally he enjoyed the visual look & feel of the Nike+ app which indeed uses a very pleasant and modern looking minimal but colorful user interface. From a motivational perspective his friends on Nike+ have been the best encouragement to accomplish a goal. Who said that peer pressure couldn’t be used positively? ;-)
When comparing FitBit with the Nike+ FuelBand his testing showed that the output is 10% more or less the same with the Nike+ FuelBand’s own Pedometer function. I think this is a welcome surprise as it’s much more convenient to have a bracelet on the arm than to clip a FitBit pedometer onto your jeans. The device is fully charged in just one hour. The charging is done via a default USB connection that is not only simple but also a clever standard which is used for recharging and data synchronization. The downside of the Nike+ FuelBand is that it’s only rain water resistant but it will not resist more water than that. Swimmers are out of luck with the Nike+ FuelBand.
In addition to the Nike+ FuelBand Roman also tested the new Nike+ LunarTR1 training shoes with built in sensors in the shoe’s soles. This intelligent shoe when paired with the Nike app looks quite promising as fitness trainer and direct smart feedback basing on the sensor data. He performed a series of exercises which the Nike app recommended and the Nike app gave LIVE feedback when the exercises where not done the right way. Another example use of the shoe sensors was to jump as high as possible, good training for basketball players, and the app shows instantly how high the actual jump was.
I’m looking forward to what other sport brands will bring to market in the next few months. A few months ago I tested myself the Adidas MiCoach which consists of two external sensors, one that I clipped on a running shoe and a USB dongle on the iPhone. This was already the updated version, which works with the smartphone but it’s still somehow not maintained or updated regularly by Adidas. It looked to me in some ways rather outdated. If I compare my own experience with the now available Nike running shoes, they look like they are from another universe. The question now is which brand will just follow Nike and which brand will truly bring another innovative device solution?
Afterwards I was invited to introduce QUENTIQ. I started my presentation with a convenient visual summarizing QUENTIQ’s three key pillars. (1) My Body (2) My Activities and (3) My Emotions. A quick explanation to the central score which is called the “QUENTIQ Health Score” and is a indicator of the personal current health status. The score is a number based on a scale of 1 (low) to 1,000 (excellent).
I also explained the sequence of events. The users selects an Activity and can track this activity directly over the QUENTIQ Tracker app or with external devices such as a Polar watch or Wahoo hearth rate monitor or even the simplest option of via a manual entry. Then the so collected data is then synchronized with the QUENTIQ platform. At this point the user can manage and work with the data directly over a desktop, tablet or even over his smart phone computer. The user chooses what device depending on his surrounding and goals.
Then I spoke about the external supported devices, which work with QUENTIQ. It’s no secret that we are planning to increase the number of supported third party devices in the next few months. This is because, QUENTIQ is technology neutral built. And we believe that active users have the choice to choose themselves, and know best, how to track their fitness activity themselves.
From this point we jumped directly into the QUENTIQ platform where I was able to give some real life insight. Showing the achievements page a good question came up. I was asked if achievement are only displayed once or how is the user motivated multiple times when he has achieved a specific task such as 20km walking on a single day. The questioner told me about here FitBit achievement badge which once obtained, would not be lost neither could it be won again. I explained that at QUENTIQ the ‘gamification engine‘ is more than “only” achievements. Another motivator could be the “level” which rises with user engagement on the platform. “League Divisions” are another motivator which gets remixed every 4 months and the users compete from scratch again, although they may have been promoted to a new league. So this can definitely help to motivate the user. As always this depends on the kind of personal motivation preference.
Critical questions followed regarding why would anybody need a platform such as QUENTIQ to stay healthy and fit. The easiest way to answer to this question was with another question: “Why do I need a colorful, shiny and with suspension running shoe to go running, I could go barefoot…”
Other questions followed regarding the dark side of the possible use of QUENTIQ. The big brother jackpot question – “will QUENTIQ be used to punish less healthy people?” I personally think that critical questions are very valuable and that it always helps to think about possible issue twice. The big brother question has been asked many times in the past and will be a central subject in the future of mHealth and related “new” fields. Similar questions have been discussed about Social Media and before that TV, Radio, Newspaper. So somehow this is a “déjà vu” kind of question which has more to-do with fear of future developments.
We at QUENTIQ believe it should be done the other way around to reward healthy people and to keep them motivated to get a healthy life or stay health.
Mobile stress tracker
Then followed Christopher Lorenz from the Munich-based company SOMA ANALYTICS which presented their solution to the worldwide growing developed country issue – stress.
Studies have shown that stress such as burnout or depressions will be the Nr. 1 mass population disease in first world developed country’s such as US, Germany, France etc.
Christopher compared the stress with a daily tracking many people do every day which is weight. He asked, “What is the meaning of a scale?” The answer is “To produce an objective numerical score for weight”. So with SOMA ANALYTICS his company is working on a stress tracker app for android, which will read the personal stress level live over three stress indicators. (1) Hand Eye coordination. This will happen over the amount of typos that appear on smart phone input. (2) Voice. They plan to analyze the voice calls, which are made over the smart phone to indicate the actual stress level. (3) Sleep tracker. This will be achieved over the smart phone gyroscope sensor which placed on the top of the bed mattress, will indicate if the lying person is having a calm sleep or not because of stress. Later I was able to see the app which is still a closed beta prototype, but so far it looks very well developed and near to its first release.
Cell Regulation Screening
Walter Scheuregger talked about the natural self regulatory body mechanism in interaction with the personal nutrition. He presented to the QS group his company MEVITEC and their device, some kind of a cell scanner, which measures the fluorescence reflections, tissue directly on biological cell level. They call their system CRS-System (Cell Regulation Screening) and with a scanner devices it enables a user to scan directly though the skin and the different cell levels within less than five seconds. You then obtain a graphical evaluation of your personal metabolic situation. Similar to QUENTIQ, the CRS-system has an scientific background, having been developed by physicians and scientists.
We later where all able to test this system on ourselves. Each meet-up attendee’s hand was scanned and the system produced a personal graphical evaluation, some kind of personal metabolic dashboard showing various metrics including:
- Protection from metabolic acidosis
- Immune resistance
- Metabolic regulation
- Physical training status
- Protection from oxidative stress
- Mental stress capacity
- Protection from infectious processes
- Connective tissue condition
- Regulation of inflammatory processes
- Allergic activation
- Cell regeneration processes
- Cell reduction processes
- General performance capability
- Micronutritional requirements
This was fun and exciting after a lot of listening and talking.
I am really looking forward to further Quantified Self Meetups, maybe even in Switzerland?