The Quantified Self: Gamification On a Whole New Level
You can be a winner at the Game of Life… literally. Far removed from the days of pushing that pink station wagon – my older brother always took the blue one – around the multi-colored “Game of Life” board, today there is a perfect storm of technology and self-want to improve one’s wellness brewing. Couple new mobile application technologies, MEMS, handsomely backed start-ups, the rise of gamification to assuage human behavior and a sincere focus on Big Data and this technological crest is crashing at the right moment and bringing to shore what is dubbed the Quantified Self. All of this together spells disruption for several industries, including Healthcare.
Defining Self Quantification
In its most concise form, self quantification is the tracking of daily activities through technologies, delivering back to the user some “performance” analytics. The data and metrics help the user alter a behavior in order to self-improve. The soon to be assuaged behavior can be hyper-specific, like wanting to drive your car in the most efficient manner or it can be much more broad involving myriad health conditions and goals you are attempting to reach. The most famous quantified self endeavor to date is probably Nike+. However, you don’t have to vigorously comb the tech blogs to find articles featuring performance tracking soccer cleats with sensor-enabled chips or wristbands that monitor your sleep cycle and awake you at optimal points in that cycle so you rise your most invigorated self.
The most intriguing part of the entire quantified self paradigm is the distinction between active and passive participation and how the data is created, captured, measured and then fed back to the user to help create the personal change he or she is targeting. Let’s define these quickly as well.
Active participation simply infers that the user had to do something in order to get back the desired data. I had to run 2.1 miles in order for Nike+ to feed me back the data on my run. Pretty simple right?
Passive participation is where self quantification gets really interesting, experimental and innovative. This is of course where the user doesn’t have to do anything in particular – perhaps minus wearing a wristband like the one pictured to the right – in order to receive pertinent data and analysis on everything from body stress to caloric burn rate. Keep your focus on sensor technologies that measure and create data based on passive participation, this area is likely to be the more innovative of the two – passive as opposed to active – simply because until now, individuals couldn’t easily consume data from passive activities. MEMS technology is changing the landscape rapidly.
What are MEMS? - MEMS: The Technology to Propel the Unstructured Futre of Big Data
Game On and On and On
For those downplaying the role of gamification and calling it nothing more than a marketing gimmick, you may want to rethink your sentiment. The truth is, gamification needed the technology to catch up to the persuasive techniques being employed and the rise of the quantified self is the perfect vessel that will allow users to consume enormous amounts of previously un-trackable data. Through a highly gamified experience and visually compelling interface, individuals will track niche active and passive behaviors and applied gamification tactics will help the user advance towards their goals. This is not a marketing gimmick designed to get you to purchase 3 boxes of Fruity Pebbles in order to get 10% off of your next gas purchase. This is a remarkable combination of individually consumable technologies, data and psychology that will have a massive impact across a wide array of industries and verticals.
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image credit: retroist.com, mybasis.com