Quantified Self

DEFINITION of 'Quantified Self'

The use of personal data to improve one’s health and well-being. The concept of Quantified Self entails tracking exercise, sleep patterns, diet and other factors and making lifestyle changes based on the results. The term “Quantified Self” also refers to an informal group of manufacturers and users of self-tracking instruments that connect through live conferences and online forums. 

BREAKING DOWN 'Quantified Self'

Journalist Gary Wolf is perhaps most responsible for popularizing the term “Quantified Self” as a way to describe the intersection of data and self-improvement. The California-based writer created a blog by this name in 2007 and co-founded a company, Quantified Self Labs, which helps organize conferences throughout North America and Europe. 

The growth of smartphones and relatively inexpensive monitoring devices has fueled the growing interest in personal data. With the right sensors – and in many cases, an accompanying app to interpret the data – individuals can now track everything from how much they sleep at night to how many miles they walk in a day.

Among the novel products on the market, as of 2014, are a device and app that allow pregnant women to record their baby’s heartbeat and share it with friends and family members. Another device encourages proper posture by tracking one’s body position, activity level and calorie intake; it also alerts users when they slouch by sending a gentle vibration through a wearable magnetic clasp.

The Quantified Self phenomenon has been a boon for numerous technology startups, as the market for such equipment is expected to reach $5 billion by 2016. Because of the potential demand for personalized data, venture capitalists and other investors have begun to bet on numerous firms that develop wearable sensors and mobile apps. Some technology companies have turned to crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo as an early source of funding to cover their product development and manufacturing costs.