Continuous Improvement for your life

What if data collection was fun? You’re probably sick of hearing about “gamification”, but if we stop to think for a minute, the core concept is interesting: data collection doesn’t have to be a chore. Data can lead to insights, and insights provide us with useful or fun information that can influence our lives. We’re seeing an increase in the amount of data that our devices can collect about us, either through automated methods or methods that make data entry easy. Until now the data has mostly been used for earning badges and other seemingly trivial goals, but the data itself is valuable – we just need to think more broadly about how we can apply it. Beyond badges: The future of healthcare As an example, let’s think about the future of healthcare: imagine if our digital devices could measure data on various health indicators in your life. If this were all stored on a central database, you could sign up for a service where analysts go through your data each month and draw out insights on your health. Based on this, they can make recommendations on small changes you can make to improve your health, and even catch health warning signs before they develop into real problems. These analysts could also provide the data and insights to your doctor, taking the guesswork out of diagnosis and treatment. A lot of the technology required to achieve this already exists: there are wristwatches that can measure heartrate, blood pressure etc. and your smartphone can tell where you are, how fast you’re moving, how many steps you take, how you sleep etc. Think of it as Continuous Improvement for your life. Of course, healthcare is just the tip of the iceberg – we can use data driven insights to influence many other parts of our lives. Check out this video: Tim Chang talks about data and how analytics will change our lives over the next few years. Read more at Techcrunch Imagine an app that improves who you are What if we could use an app to configure our life goals? What if I told an app that I want to be healthier, smarter, funnier and more cultured? The same app could create a shopping list for me when I’m in the grocery store, and recipes to cook when I’m in the kitchen. It could tell me when, where and how to exercise. It could tell me when I’m near a book shop that has a copy of a particular book. It could tell me when there’s a comedy show or a great play in town that I should catch. Heck it could even pull in my Facebook check-ins, analyse who I’ve been hanging out with and tell me when I need to catch up with particular friends (or avoid certain others!) Of course it should measure whether I followed the recommendations and in some cases even measure the resulting uplift (eg. telling me how much I’ve lowered my blood pressure in the past 3 months). Then it can give me a score on how well I’m living my life. “Amer scored 3,426 points this week and has jumped to no. 1 on the leaderboard – #Winning@Life!” Most of the technology already exists to collect this data, and in fact a lot of apps already exist that can perform a lot of these actions in isolation. The core ingredient that is missing is the understanding (or imagination) required to make this data useful enough to make a real difference in our lives. Stay tuned: it’s only a matter of time until we’ll stop vying to be the mayor of the local coffee shop and start competing to win @ life. Game on.

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