My Quantified Self

Most people I know, especially me, struggle daily to ensure they get enough activity. Simply walking can be one of the best things we can do, but for some of us (particularly geeks), a little bit of gadgetry can provide inspiration to remember to get on with it and do something.
Withings Scales

I’m a big fan of the idea of the “quantified self“, and over the past few years have used several gadgets successfully to assist me in being more active and tracking my health markers.

Top of this list are the excellent Withings Scales that I’ve been using to track weight, body fat and BMI for a couple of years now. I step on these daily, and the data is recorded on the Withings Health Mate app on my iPhone.

I found that tracking all this data was really telling, and it spurred me on. Even though I’ve never had a blood pressure problem, I got the Withings BP Monitor so that I could see the the effect of my nutrition and activity levels on not just weight and fat, but also blood pressure. The information goes to the same great app.

The next things I became interested in was tracking activity and sleep. I tried a variety of apps (RunKeeper, Walkmeter, etc) for these, but ultimately found the FitBit One activity and sleep tracker which is fantastic.

The FitBit tracks my routine and specific exercise, including steps taken, stairs climbed and (by calculation) distance walked/run and calories consumed. It also has a mode that tracks your sleep, giving you an indication of sleep quality. It transmit the data back through bluetooth to your desktop or iOS device to log everything with an app or web portal.

Only 3 things I’d want to add are:

  1. Integration to Withings so all my data is in one place
  2. Heart rate monitor so I can log this in before/during/after specific activity
  3. Waterproof casing and features that would allow me to use it swimming

Yesterday at CES Withings announced their Smart Activity Tracker, for release later this quarter. Basically it is a product created in the image of the Fitbit One, but adding the first 2 features I’ve listed above. I look forward to getting one, and having a single integrated view of my overall health and activity.

Fitbit also have Aria scales which do much the same as the Withings scales (from what I’ve read). I’ve not used them, or heard much about them, but if I were starting out and didn’t already have scales but did have the Fitbit One, I’d certainly consider that route.

Withings also announced scales that measure heart rate and air quality. I’m admittedly a geek, but even I can’t see the real benefit of measuring air quality.

Of course, talking all about this is one thing. But my Fitbit has just reminded me to get active. I’m off for a swim – an activity I’ll have to log manually, now and into the future.


Photography enthusiastic, writer, hiker and diving geek from Canberra (and Sydney), Australia. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

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