Saturday 18 November 2017

The thing is... Your 30 second guide to everything: Fitness tracking

Illustration: Eorna Walton
Illustration: Eorna Walton

Emily Hourican

What: Another step into a fully-integrated Artificial Intelligence world, where the various parts of our lives talk to us, and, more disconcertingly, each other. Fitness trackers, or activity trackers, monitor what we do, how we sleep, how many calories we burn, the pace of our pulse, and more. They link up with social media and ensure no rest for the wicked. Or the virtuous.

Why: Because, presumably, some people want this. Initially aimed at the athlete and wannabe-athlete market - people who have some legitimate reason to wish to know that they beat yesterday's time by 25 seconds with a recovery rate that was 8pc faster - fitness tracking is trickling down to the general population as just one more example of boundary-pushing technology.

Why Now: Because fitness trackers have recently manifested a rather different usefulness - in murder cases. Police are using them to monitor movements of both victims and suspects, and checking against testimonies. Insurance companies, too, have not been slow to spot the possibilities, with some now offering discounts to those who wear the tech and reach the goals.

How: Easy. Fitness trackers look like watches, so just strap it on. The hard part is making sense of all the data collected, and preventing yourself becoming obsessed with your 'metrics'.

Who: Proper athletes, wannabe athletes, and celebrities who want to look like athletes, including Beyonce, Britney Spears and Richard Branson. Insurance companies who are very interested in the data, and the police.

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