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Lifelogging: A Step Up For Connected Devices?

Jan 7 2014, 5:36pm CST | by , in News

Lifelogging: A Step Up For Connected Devices?
Photo Credit: Forbes

As expected, much of the news coming out of the Consumer and Electronics (CES) show in Las Vegas is about wearable tech. LG jumped into the wearable tech arena with its own health tracker, a device that rolls around the wrist and enables navigation between multiple pieces of health-related information.

However, the more interesting bit of news came from Sony, a pioneer of sorts in this space. The Japanese company announced the release of Sony Core, a tiny gadget that tracks everything from health data to social interactions and entertainment channels. In its description of the device, Sony called it a “lifelogging” device.

Life, What?

True to their name, lifelogging devices log your life activities. In this, they are an extended version of health tracking devices because they extend the former’s capabilities into other spheres of life. However, the jump from health logging to life logging is more than a change in semantics or quantity of logged data.

According to Andy Hickl from Saga – an app that tracks your life activities and health, the intention behind lifelogging is to achieve a mix of aspirational and concrete goals.

The concrete goals are health-related. For example, such apps quantify the number of steps that you walked or the number of miles that you ran the other day.

The aspirational goals, however, are contextual. Hickl says data from logging your visits to a particular restaurant or entertainment center to your visits to your friend will enable you to tell better stories and “fundamentally make your phone smarter.” “We haven’t figured it out yet but the goal is to figure out and personalize you – at a macro level and at a micro level,” he says, referring to his app’s intent.

Current app (and device) actions are triggered based on user actions, such as queries or punching of specific buttons. Lifelogging apps surface questions and recommendations based on an analysis of your logged data. For example, the device or app may offer options to “maximize” your day by gleaning through your previous schedule of habits and preferences.

The use case and utility for a lifelogging app may seem trivial. At first glance, it seems like an addition to the already-burgeoning market for minutiae of daily lives, which advertisers mine to serve personalized ads.

However, there are a number of interesting contextual use cases. For example, last year I met a data scientist who was using Google Glass, another connected device, to track her juvenile diabetic son’s injection schedule.

Is A Lifelogging Device The Best Approach?

Given the multiplicity of devices and apps in the ecosystem, one could argue that we are already being tracked by our phones and microprocessor chips (Intel’s announcement about its new chip family yesterday notwithstanding). But, there are vital differences between developing a physical device versus developing an app. Sony has opted for an approach that combines both physical devices and an app. However, the sheer number of devices expected to populate the Internet of Things ecosystem may work against the company.

According to research, there will be more than 75 billion connected devices by 2020. In such a crowded field, it may be difficult for Sony to distinguish its device from that of its competitors.

Over the past ten years, we have been primed and conditioned to carry around our phone but we are not there yet with the wristband,” says Hickl, adding that phones are the “dominant” devices for mainstream customers (as opposed to early adopters, who are more tech savvy and willing to adapt their lifestyle to experiment with new technology).

Then, there is the question of platforms. Even though the market for connected devices is still to establish itself, tech companies are already busy fragmenting development platforms and standards to gain a competitive edge.

Consider the field for smartwatches, an unproven but hot market. Right off the bat, there are already more than ten varieties of smartwatches in the field. In terms of capabilities and features, there is little to differentiate between them. However, the market already has three development platforms – iOS, Android, and PebbleOS. “It took me 75 recipes using IFTTT (a SaaS service that triggers actions based on specific occurrences in supported apps) to bring together my stream in a meaningful way,” says Hickl.

Twitter and Facebook have already crafted a market for personal status updates amongst the general public and friends. Development problems aside, it would be interesting to see whether average consumers are willing to log their life data and take the concept to the (presumed) next level.

Source: Forbes

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