Designing for Personal Health

Abstract and accepted paper for the Shikakeology Symposium March 2013 at Stanford University.

Wearable smart devices are coming more and more into our lives. People who self-quantify aspects of their way of living are becoming more mainstream. The quanitified self movement is becoming mature and could lead to a new way of looking at personal health. Most people who are tracking their lives do this with a view towards a better, improved lifestyle. We might be on the verge of a new, more real,  form of preventive healthcare which could completely change the way we look at our health.

A lot of data is gathered by these wearable device or mobile apps that permit to tracking different aspects of once’s life. People are leaving a big digital footprint in the virtual world. The advantage of this, over a long time period of gathering the data on a population level, might be discover patterns in age and gender groups that could be very useful for human kind and healthcare and may lead to predictions on a population and individual level. On the other hand there is the privacy or the digital identity that needs to be respected.

Other questions that arise – how are people interpreting all the data, are the devices as effective as we think? Are they able to create enough awareness and persuasion to change people’s lives for the better over the long run, or is this more a temporary, short-term change in behavior? Do they continue to lead the lifestyle they adapted during the tracking period?

Companies who develop and design these devices or mobile apps have to pay a lot of attention to behavior design aspects of  them in order to reach the goals they have in mind.

 

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