How Much Personal Data is Needed to Stay Healthy?

A few months ago, a story ran in Wired Magazine that described a noticeable shift in the scientific method, and attributed the change to our ability to produce and store large amounts of data.Historically, the scientific method was built around a testable theory.  But in the 21st century, theories were becoming obsolete; the data simply spoke for itself.

Data from our bodies is no exception -- physiologic data can now be accessed as a real-time data stream thanks to personal health monitors. But does the vast amount of data we get from our bodies make us any healthier? Do we need to collect data 24-hours a day in order to learn something interesting about our health? Is it even feasible to wear these sensors all day, every day?

I am embarking on a new self-tracking experiment to answer these questions (and possibly a few others). For 30 days, I will be using devices such as the Zeo personal sleep coach, the Philips DirectLife activity monitor, the Mio Motiva wristband on-demand heart rate monitor, and the Nike+ sportband. The goal of this study is not to pit one device against another; rather, I want to focus on what the data tells me, and how I can best use it to stay healthy.

I'll get a blog post up here at least once a week, all the while working on a longer story about the journey that will be released at the end of the month.

Stay tuned. It should be a fun ride...