Friday, September 4, 2015

The quantified life

I had been dabbling. When I first got the Pebble watch, I loaded up the Misfit app and had a go at measuring my activity and sleep. But, who wants to wear a watch all the time? I certainly didn't want to wear one to bed at night. And so my experiments at quantifying these things, gradually faded and died. And yet, as I get older and my health becomes more fragile, there is value to ensuring that I get enough exercise (but not too much) and that the quality and length of my sleep is as it should be. The numbers matter more today than they used to.

Enter Misfit's latest gadget - the 'Link'. The Misfit Link is a small button on a clip. It weighs next to nothing and you can clip it to your clothing or just slip it in a pocket where it sits recording your every movement. Aside from clipping it on after the morning shower, the Link is very much a set-it and forget-it device and performs well as long as you don't think of it as a pedometer. Wearing the Link on the main mass of the body gives results that compare well with something like Google Tracks (which measures trips using GPS) but don't think it will accurately record every step you take. The results on the body were, however, much better than from a wrist-based device like the Pebble.

The Link can tell you how you are doing, with a series of lights that can show progress and even the time. But, if you are wearing it discreetly on the body you won't be looking at the pretty lights very often. So, you access the Link using the Misfit app on your phone. From the app, you can set your own goals, see your daily progress and chart activity across weeks or months. All this data is also uploaded to the Misfit server where it is available on your personal dashboard. Should you be so inclined, you can share your data and compete with your friends.

Aside from measuring your activity, the Link also has other tricks - it is a button that can be programmed to take actions you define. How about programming it to trigger an 'emergency' call to your phone when you are in a difficult situation? This, and a whole heap of other actions are available through (If This Then That) and you can assign different actions to a single and double press of the button.

Oh, and perhaps the best part, the Misfit Link is only US$20 and runs on a coin battery that lasts 4-6 months. Those are a couple of quantities that make the quantified life much more sensible.

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