Data is not only transforming businesses, but it is also affecting individuals on a personal level. With the help of technology, individuals are tracking every aspect of their lives. Self-tracking or Quantified Self has been used in various industries such as health and wellness, education, gamification and automotive etc. Especially in automotive industry, companies and individuals are using various gadgets, sensors and apps to capture data about driving habits to improve the driving experience.
Quantified Self is a way to get “self-knowledge through numbers” as the two founders Kevin Kelly and Gerry Wolf put it, learning about one’s life by measuring various aspects of human bodily functions, actions, habits, and environment.
With all kinds of tracking devices from simple step counters to complex sleep monitors, that are known generally available in every consumer electronics store, Quantified Self has matured from a nerdy, rather esoteric niche to a mainstream trend. In many countries, healthcare institutions are experimenting with self-tracking, and there is a plethora of self-tracking apps for iOS and Android smartphones.
“Self-tracking is about change, but change is more often not about doing, but about stopping to do something.” Gerry Wolf introduced this year’s Quantified Self conference that took place in Amsterdam with a keynote about breaking routines. A routine, he remarked, is a method to fight entropy. It consumes energy to maintain routines. Routines are efficient, as long as the conditions remain unchanged, but it restrains our acting freely. Self-tracking for most people is about uncovering routines in daily life, making bad habits visible, and then guiding the change by supplying an indicator.
When self-tracking is used to break habits, it opens additional degrees of freedom. Thus self-tracking is not so much about self-discipline, about restricting actions, living according to more rules, but about pushing the boundaries, and relieving from constrains that are not necessary, but exist just because people are used to do things that way.
Self-tracking devices and apps to improve the safety of driving
Bad habits can creep into all our everyday activities. And self-tracking is not limited to counting the steps or measuring blood pressure. There are already a few apps that support people by tracking their driving. Acceleration (respectively breaking), turning, and speed can easily be tracked with the sensors that sit on every smartphone.
From the readings of these probes, indexes can be derived, that give feedback on the quality and safety of driving. Becoming aware of bad habits can not only help the driver to save energy by learning to drive more ecologically, but reduce stress and lower the risk of accidents. Self-tracking can help drivers to act more consciously, and thus give them more freedom on the road.
One of the US-based start-ups introduced a new model called pay-per-mile car insurance. A self-tracking device is fitted to the car to track the driving habits and performance of drivers to provide reduced insurance premiums. Another California-based start-up uses the sensors on smartphone to measure drivers’ behavior. The app gives insights about individual driver’s focus, caution and control on the road to improve drivers’ safety.
What kind of self-tracking devices or apps do you use on a day-to-day basis? And for what purposes? Share your opinions in the comment section.
Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.