THE BLOG

The Quantified Self

09/09/2014 14:57 BST | Updated 08/11/2014 10:59 GMT

It is not a particularly new concept for one to want to track their performance and development when it comes to certain activities but the ability to be able to this is quickly picking up pace due to the ongoing development of Quantified Self.

The Quantified Self is a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person's daily life in terms of inputs (e.g. food consumed, quality of surrounding air), states (e.g. mood, arousal, blood oxygen levels), and performance (mental and physical).

Technology and fitness have long been two burgeoning areas but the last few years has really seen them become intertwined, and they look like more than a convenient marriage. Gone are the days where you would need to look on a map to see the distance you've covered on a run or write every weight lifted in your gym notebook, these are all now done via smart, sophisticated apps.

There is definitely a greater demand from people to log their performances and stay on track of what they are achieving. This is no bad thing, it's great that there is a competitive element to people; the motivation to constantly improve applies as it does in any business; if you're not progressing and improving, where are you going? Competing against yourself is all the motivation some people need but it's also the ability to compete against friends, colleagues and others that injects a sense of urgency. With the rise in social media making it easier than ever to share your achievements, scores and times with your peers and the world.

Mobile Analytics Company Flurry has looked in to the area in some detail and their findings confirm that usage of these apps is on the rise. They recorded that health and fitness apps usage, measured by the number of times people open and use the app, has grown by 62% this year in comparison to 33% for apps in general. The results from 2013 also bear relevance as the two stats were 49% and 115%, respectively. Apps such as Strava and Nike+ Running have helped this boom and can consider themselves something as pace-setters but competition, fittingly, is rife. As more and more apps enter the arena, the market place becomes increasingly crowded and will surely reach a point of saturation.

How times have changed when we consider that the simple pedometer was once the master of recording one's fitness 'regime'. Seeing how many steps you had made in a day was somewhat revolutionary and the idea that more information could eventually become available was notional. The technology and development of this product has naturally evolved in line with people's demands. No longer does simply knowing the amount of steps covered in a day considered acceptable and that is reflected by the vast array of options now offered to fitness enthusiasts. Now you can track your diet, your sporting and fitness accomplishments and even turn a regular jog in to a zombie avoidance task.

With the new iPhone 6 possessing a specialist health and fitness feature, it is clear that this is an arena proving most popular. The HealthKit will allow health and fitness apps to share their data with the new Health app and with each other. A user's health information is stored in a centralized and secure location and the user decides which data should be shared with your app. Certainly ground-breaking in terms of a health and development platform, it has formed a large part of the marketing and advertising campaign in the lead up to the iPhone 6 launch as the fitness sector is recognised for being a remarkably fertile area. Things have, undoubtedly, progressed sharply within this realm and one suspects, that with the ability to make a sizeable opportunity creating a successful fitness app and modern society's desire for instant feedback and gratification, there is likely to be far more to come.

It all relates back to the 'internet of things' and the speed and relative ease at how software is developing. 'Dumb' or basic devices, such as a light switch or another basic tech product, are no longer the isolated concept they used to be and are now being brought together by software engineers, which can only enhance our day-to-day lives. An example of this would be the surge in heating apps such as Nest, which allows people to control their thermostats and lighting through their mobiles. Many of us would label ourselves as being 'time-poor'; therefore convenience products and concepts are sure to find themselves in demand. The tech sector as a whole is accounting for a large proportion of the bright, new businesses we see emerging and as a consequence, is the area interesting investors through private equity firms and crowdfunding platforms alike. With greater funding being made available for research from the government, it is clear that technology in the UK is riding on the crest of a wave and doesn't feel like hopping off just yet.