Quantified Self: How measureable are you?


During the last Quantified Self meetup there were as many people in the Waag building as on the waiting list. This doesn’t surprise me at all. VPRO’s Labyrint recently made an item on the subject (Dutch only: “De Meetbare Mens, een goudmijn aan data”) and the Amsterdam community counts for 700 people.

Quantified Self (QS) stands, in short, for measuring yourself. Using tools to translate your behaviour in data. Think of running statistics, calorie counters and sleeptrackers that make you (painfully) aware of your lifestyle. In Groningen the world's first Quantified Self Institute can be found. Researcher Martijn de Groot wants to add life to years instead of the other way around. For example, he examines the Sensewear pro, the Fitbit and the ZEO sleep manager. What effect does an electric blanket or relaxing music have on your sleeping habits? Did you know there are about 100 apps that track your diet? Nice fact: after using a health app 80% of his test panel changed their behaviour.

Architecture based on QS is also an option. William transformed the ‘IK-paviljoen’ based on his self measurements. A refreshing, striped wallpaper appears to be a reflection of his daily urine. And pixel-like paintings are the result of his iCal calendar. Some other nice initiatives came from the design challenge of Frog Design, such as the Tree Voice, Kinetik and Mnemo. Of a totally different order was the presentation by Greg Tyrelle. Collecting personal data is one thing, but to see what effect this has on our behavior, we need to turn to our genes. He gave a nice overview of the possibilities in this area and a future perspective in which we can analyse our genes for a reasonable price.

Jos de Boer created a so to say Oprah moment during his presentation on iSPEX. After he convinced us that particulate measurements are of great importance (take for example the huge losses of airlines following volcanic eruptions), he showed us how you can do these measurements yourself with an iPhone tool. Everyone hoped to find one under their seats, but unfortunately this was not the case. You can sign up for the national measurement day.

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