Getting Fit with Technology

A friend of mine sent me a video clip on Leaf by Bellabeat, advertised as “The World’s Smartest Piece of Jewelry”.  Clip on Leaf to track your heart rate, monitor caloric output, and receive alerts to breathe when the device senses you’re stressed.

Spire, another wearable device, monitors respiration.  Spire senses tension based on breathing patterns and sends a vibrating alert, reminding the wearer to take deep breaths.  A company called Athos makes smart clothes, designed to measure and track movements to prevent injuries while optimizing performance.

Fitbit is one of the more popular wearable fitness devices, allowing users to track/monitor activity levels, sleep quality, and count calories, among other features.  David Sedaris wrote a piece last year about his Fitbit experiences in “Stepping Out: Living the Fitbit Life.”

I can see the benefit of using wearable devices to track/monitor activities.  Every time I go to the doctor’s with some kind of problem the first question is “how long have you been experiencing X?”  I almost always reply, “I don’t know, a while.”  I can admit this is not useful, but I wonder if presenting the doctor with tons of stats and graphs would be.  I’m sure the results would be great for diagnosing some health concerns, but would likely complicate others by providing too much information that wasn’t relevant.

I read that some health insurance companies started offering financial incentives to people who elect to wear fitness devices.  However, the collected information could be used by the insurance companies to refute claims, or maybe even raise premiums in the future.  What if an insurance company requires you to wear a device for 24/7 monitoring to substantiate a claim, or a treatment?  For example, what if you followed a special diet, but only managed to follow it 80% of the time?  What if you turned off your monitoring for 20% of the time to avoid tracking the “off” times?  It would likely raise suspicions and throw doubt into the process.  And will 24/7 monitoring become a requirement to qualify for health insurance?

My body already has a voice, pain, one I can track easily.  I don’t need a wearable device to measure the effects eating too much sugar or missing a good night’s sleep.  I feel them instantly.  Aside from the privacy implications, I’m also concerned that wearable devices will result in relationships with the device instead of the machine (aka the human body) which should be the real objective.



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