In the interests of research, one of my colleagues at the Labs is walking around wearing a LifeShirt from VivoMetrics. The LifeShirt contains sensors that track heart rate, body temperature and respiration, and wirelessly transmit the data to a PDA or PC. The shirt can also determine whether you're standing, squatting, prone or in any number of other positions--useful in the event that you take a sudden fall.
The LifeShirt or technology like it could dramatically change your relationship with your health insurer. In the United States, it's OK for insurers to punish "bad" behavior (smoking, for example) and reward good by offering different rates to different people. If they got data from the LifeShirt, however, they could expand both the range and granularity of behaviors they'd reward. By tracking your heart rate they could work out how much aerobic exercise you engage in, and of course the position sensor would tell them how many deep knee bends, sit-ups, etc., you do. Each month (day? hour?) you could get an e-mail from your insurer congratulating (or berating) you for the amount of exercise you'd done and encouraging you to do more by explaining how much you'd saved/lost on your monthly (daily? hourly?) premium. On the one hand, you could say it would be an unconscionable intrusion on your personal privacy. On the other hand...it would certainly keep you motivated. Is this a future you would look forward to? --Ed Gottsman