Using smartphones and Evernote for a more quantified self

Using smartphones and Evernote for a more quantified self

Summary: Your smartphone can help you to understand more about your body by recording dynamic data from various smartphone-enabled health sensors.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Health, Privacy
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Wow! Have you been following this whole NSA story? Zack, Charlie, Jason, Rachel, Steven, Ed, and David have been all over it for days.

It got me thinking about what the NSA would get if they decided to peek in on my life. I'm a middle-aged woman, happily married, and my biggest obsessions are knitting, crochet, and sewing. If the NSA had vacuumed up all my phone conversations over the last few years, they would have repeatedly triggered the keyword searches for "beauty supplies," "diet," "bargain," "cute hats," and "God of War" (I love that franchise!).

The point is, somewhere in the United States, in a bunker probably hiding below the world's largest mall, I'm guessing there are terabytes, exabytes, and manipedibytes of data. The sad thing is, most of those drives are probably filled with "Go Mets" and "did you see how big her butt has gotten?" rather than the secret mutterings of terrorists.

To that end, I feel like we should do our best to both fight back against constant monitoring, and give the NSA more to keep themselves occupied. If they think they were watching us before, wait 'til they get a load of these toys (to paraphrase some '90s Batman movie).

The video below is a discussion between my former CNET colleague Rafe Needleman (now at Evernote) and Adam Lin, president of the consumer medical devices company iHealth. I've talked about electronic health monitoring products before, and there are an almost never-ending supply of fitness bands coming out that send data to your smartphone.

Lin takes a slightly different approach and focuses on cardiac care with devices like arm and wrist blood pressure monitors, a wireless pulse oximeter that will help you track your oxygen flow, a wireless scale, and the requisite fitness bands. Interestingly enough, iHealth links up to Evernote and dumps this information into your Evernote, if you want it to.

Lin and Needleman talk about a concept called "the quantified self," helping you to understand all about your body by recording dynamic data from various smartphone-enabled health sensors.

This, of course, brings us back to the NSA. Now, not only can they index me saying the word "shoes" at least 400 times a week, they can also index millions of health measurements we're now taking and tracking on our smartphones.

Frankly, I don't think any of us should care one way or another about whether the NSA has data about whether we snuck some fries at McDonalds last Thursday. But it is kind of scary to think that our insurance companies might be able to someday deny us coverage because they know from our phone location data that every few weeks, somebody (I'm not saying who) hits the McDonalds on the way home from Weight Watchers.

That's enough paranoia for one week. Watch the video. And watch what you eat. Promise me you'll skip the fries until at least Father's Day, okay?

Topics: Mobility, Health, Privacy

About

Denise Amrich is a Registered Nurse, the health care advisor for the U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute, and a mentor for the Virtual Campus at Florida's Brevard Community College.


Nothing in this article is meant to be a substitute for medical advice, and shouldn't be considered as such. If you are in need of medical help, please see your doctor.

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3 comments
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  • Well, maybe it's time to rethink "big data" then.

    "But it is kind of scary to think that our insurance companies might be able to someday deny us coverage because they know from our phone location data that every few weeks, somebody (I'm not saying who) hits the McDonalds on the way home from Weight Watchers."

    Well, maybe it's time to rethink "big data" then. After all, that's entirely what "big data" is supposed to be all about.

    I do wonder if many bloggers, in their rush to embrace the new and the cool, forget that technology can be abused, and that pushing for profits in an organization isn't the same as pushing for something that benefits society.

    If I had a choice between benefiting society and making sure an organization is profitable, and the two were mutually exclusive, I'd choose benefiting society.

    I'm not trying to be anti-technology - in fact, I love technology and how it can help people. But pushing technology blindly without considering societal impact is dangerous. We need to be careful how we push technology, and make sure we're always pushing it in a direction that helps us, not harms us.
    CobraA1
  • Health self-tracking

    Thank you Denise for this article! You raise important issues.

    Withings believes in developing a wide and open ecosystem: http://blog.withings.com/en/2013/05/30/super-charge-your-withings-experience-with-100-partner-apps-and-ifttt/

    As far as tracking your heart's condition, check out our Blood Pressure Monitor: http://blog.withings.com/en/2012/10/11/using-the-iphone-5-with-the-smart-blood-pressure-monitor/
    Our latest flagship scale even measures your heart rate through your feet! http://www.withings.com/en/bodyanalyzer
    Withings
  • Read The Fine Print

    I love Evernote and use it a lot, but think about what you put in it and carefully read the agreement regarding who owns what's in your notebooks.
    JoeFoerster