This post was initially published on the Interdobs blog.
In the world of Business Intelligence (BI) we try to figure out what the state of an organization is and how we can make it work smarter. We can measure its business pocesses, transform this data into information and take appropriate actions. To support this we can use a toolset like the SAP BI portfolio, which provides a platform where information can be collected and combined (the data warehouse) and a reporting environment in which this information can be displayed with for example analysis reports and dashboards.
Until a few years ago this kind of technology was only available for (large) companies. But, nowadays we do business intelligence-like things in our own home. Let’s call this Home Intelligence. For example there are a lot of applications available in which you can upload your bank transactions. The app wil arrange the income and expenses into different categories (groceries, mortgage costs, telephone charges). It is quite easy to manage your finances and find out where some money might be leaking. Another example is the Smart Meter, which can track your home’s energy consumption in detail. The effect of turning the heater up or down will be directly visible now.
Another step further would lead us to Personal Intelligence: Knowledge about the state of your own body. Since 2011 I make much use of RunKeeper. This is an application for sports activity tracking. With its iPhone app is for example possible to track a running, cycling or walking activity. Using GPS, the app exactly knows where you are and how fast you are running. Based on some personal characteristics (age, weight, sex) an estimate of your calorie consumption can be given. It is a great tool to track of your performance progress. You can also set personal goals, follow training programs and check the performance of your friends in the social feed. Over the past year RunKeeper has expanded and now it is also possible to use the so-called RunKeeper apps to track your fitness exercises (eg the number of squats), your food and even your sleep.
Because RunKeeper focuses on sports, I started looking for a tool to measure and analyze my activity in the non-sporting hours. Since I have a sedentary job and many transport by car, I was curious how activity I really am on a regular workday. I found the Fitbit platform for this purpose. Fitbit is a pedometer tool that also can track altitude and sleep. This little tracking device you wear all day on you. With the corresponding dashboard on the Fitbit website you can analyze activity (detailed for every 5 minutes) and see how many steps per day you take, how many kilometers you’ve walked and how many calories you have burned. The display on the Fitbit itself shows this fact also shows the current day.
I also started adding my food t in the Fitbit dashboard to gain more insight in my calorie in/out ratio. The Fitbit Aria weight scale synchronizes your weight and body fat via WiFi with the website which makes it very easy to do a lot of measurements and analyze trends in the dashboard afterwards. Furthermore, it is also possible to track blood pressure, glucose, heart rate and to add custom user-defined trackers.
With these Personal Intelligence solutions I am much more aware of my limited daily activity and helps in achieving my fitness and health goals. I use more stairs and started walking more often to the supermarket instead of taking the car. My girlfriend has a Fitbit too and when our number of steps is too low, after dinner we go for a walk more often. Of course it is also fun and very motivating to check the performance and progress of your RunKeeper Fitbit and friends.