From data to understanding yourself

In recent years, the world has lived in the “wellness boom”. People have increasingly been interested in self-measurements and in the market a huge amount of products and applications that allow people to try to feel better has become available. Pedometers, activity trackers, heart rate monitors, optical pulse devices, smart watches etc. allow the collection of more and more continuous knowledge of human behavior. Quantified Self activists have been at the forefront of testing new devices and applications, and bringing these noticeable to the general public.

However, diseases associated with unhealthy lifestyles such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases have shown a steep slope upward in western countries. The question is how the potential of today’s technology can be translated into real benefits, and the thoughts of lifestyle changes into concrete actions. Another important factor to acknowledge regarding measurement data is also its reliability to be really useful. Studies have shown that the devices may show very different values, and for a consumer it can be difficult to know how reliable and accurate the readings in different applications are. Still, only on the basis of reliable data, the conclusions may be relevant and right.

To have a tangible change, we must remember the old but still highly relevant cliché about how the human being is by nature a psychophysiological and social creature, if not even more complex. Consequently, we need a comprehensive grip on what exactly I should do today to be good to myself and why. The PRECIOUS will be a system that is built on reliable sensor data. There the physiological, measured data is combined with knowledge of the user’s psychological condition and motivation. Behind everything is the virtual model build with advanced mathematical and signal processing methods from the person’s autonomic nervous system regulation as measured from heart rate variability. The heart, the most important organ to preserve life, can provide us huge amount of knowledge when it is constantly adjusting its function based on the body’s internal and external needs, day in day out for the whole journey of our lives. This knowledge, among other sensor data, is turned into observations of individual lifestyles, threats, and supportive elements of the user’s well-being. The information further affects the operation of the PRECIOUS mobile application so that the right kinds of challenges and tasks can be provided to the person at the right time, all built on proven psychological methods to support lifestyle changes.

As the development of technologies continues its fast pace, it eventually becomes possible for a person to follow his/her own well-being related parameters 24/7/365 rather ubiquitously. This makes it easier to reach also the most important goal for measuring and collecting data – to learn about ourselves. Because in the end that is what wellbeing is about: knowing and understanding ourselves and the small choices and actions we make today and tomorrow.

Posted in Organisation.