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Surprising Science

Is the Quantified Self Movement Coming of Age?

The ability to track diverse health metrics is becoming easier and more effective. Some technologists believe amassing data will transform medicine from being reactionary to predictive. 

What’s the Latest Development?

The Quantified Self Movement, whose members use portable digital devices to constantly track health metrics from blood pressure to bowel movements, is reaching a more mature stage where data can tracked more easily and put to use more effectively. “As of October 2012, the Quantified Self movement counted more than 70 meet-up groups worldwide with over 5,000 members… Many of these self-trackers are researchers, computer scientists, or simply tech-savvy, 21st-century Benjamin Franklins who think the act of collecting so much data has the power to transform themselves and the rest of society.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Many members of the QSM report that simply being more mindful of their daily activitiesknowing more precisely how much fast food has been eaten and how little exercised has been done latelyhelps to regulate their habits in a healthier way. Stephen Wolfram, founder of the technology company Wolfram|Alpha, thinks more personalized health data will transform medicine. “Wolfram, who is developing analytics to meet this need, thinks that eventually we’ll go from sensor-based data to being able to treat whatever concern the technology diagnoses.”

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