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One warm night last February, I lay down to bed feeling like a lab mouse. A heat-and motion-sensing arm-band gauged my energy expenditure, another activity tracker clipped to my waistband recorded movement, a blood-pressure cuff connected to my iPad squeezed my right arm, and a brainwave-sensing headband would soon monitor my sleep. A scale linked by Bluetooth to an app on my iPad sat on the bathroom floor. With consistent use, these devices would provide a numeric picture of my general health and behaviors. They would give me intimate knowledge of my physical self, with all the information displayed neatly in graphs and charts. Not too many years ago, you had to go to medical specialists to get this kind of biological data. Now, whether your problem is migraines or mood swings, you can keep track of your ailment with a consumer device that costs around US $100. As these healthand-wellness gadgets proliferate, a “quantified self” movement is gaining strength: It's attracting athletes, fitness buffs, data lovers, hypochondriacs, and people just trying to lose some weight.
Date of Publication: September 2012