If your body could talk, would it say thank you?

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease…these are not just headlines – statistically, they’re coming to you or someone you love. Caring about ourselves includes caring for our bodies, but that can be difficult without feedback.  Stop eating or drinking, and your body will soon let you know. But eat something healthy or unhealthy, exercise or don’t exercise, sleep too little or too much, and you may not feel any significant effects for a while.

Measuring the Invisible

How do we measure our health? Our weight? How out of breath we are when we walk up the stairs? Numbers gathered once a year from a blood test? Health doesn’t happen at the doctor’s office. It happens with your every heartbeat and daily decisions of diet and exercise.

With our busy days, it’s easy to fall prey to the convenient behaviors over the healthy. What’s for dinner? Do I have the time to walk/run/bike?  Stairs or elevator? Watch that show or go to sleep? We don’t want to become neurotic about this, but how can we instill healthy habits in ourselves with more timely rewards than our natural senses provide?

Analyzing Peak Data

I’m excited about our new partnership with Big Cloud Analytics. In 2014, Intel acquired Basis Science, which makes the Basis Peak, arguably the most accurate fitness tracker on the market today. It can measure your resting and exercising heart rate, light, REM, and deep sleep, steps, calories burned, something called galvanic skin response which among other things, can deduce your stress level.  And the data from the Peak has been shown to be about 4% within that provided by stress test via halter, and within 2% of that provided by a sleep study. Great, but how does that change my habits to make me healthier?

That’s where Big Cloud Analytics comes in. Their COVALENCE Analytics Platform, running on Intel® Xeon® Servers, can analyze the approximately 72,000 data points coming off your Basis Peak watch every day. Add to that data coming from the population, weather data, social media data and whole host of other metrics.

With the magic of statistics, the BCA Dashboard gives you a score of your heart health.  We all know our hearts are a muscle. Our heart rate at rest, during sleep, when we exercise, and when we rest after exercise give a pretty clear picture of how that muscle is performing.  Wear the watch regularly (I change wrists for sleeping), and you are being tested every moment of every day.

Anonymizing Population Data

Whoa – sounds a bit nosy - what about my privacy? Data from our watches goes to secure Basis servers, then when we opt in for the COVALENCE Dashboard, our IDs are mapped to a new random ID and password, and a device. This way, we and our data are no longer associated.  This is called double-blinding. With double-blinding, our data is available anonymously as a member of the population. This lets me see where I fit within the population without sharing my personal numbers.  It also might let my employer (who is interested in me being my healthiest to maximize productivity and minimize corporate health insurance premiums) offer me targeted information without knowing my personal identity.

Analytics Influencing Positive Change

So now combine our heart rate data with activity, sleep data, stress data, our age, height, local weather then add a connected digital scale and blood pressure cuff, and the BCA Dashboard can identify how we compare to others based on gender, age, location, etc.

If we do the same exercise on a regular basis, anything from a walk, run or bike, or even a walk up a couple flights of stairs, we can see performance improve (or get worse). If we can view sleep score every night, maybe we can tie changes to our diet, the thermostat setting, or our activity level. Maybe we don’t want to be athletes, but would we and our loved ones want us to move our heart fitness ages lower?

For this work in tying wearable and exogenous (beyond biometrics) data, BCA and Intel recently won the 2015 Leadership in Healthcare IoT Award from the Employer Healthcare & Benefits Congress – they realize our health impacts productivity at work and our health insurance rates as well as our quality of life. Opportunities abound for gamification and incentives to help make fitness fun.

Connecting your Health

Analytics is at the center of the consumerization of Healthcare (see also US News article: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2015/08/14/how-big-data-is-driving-the-consumerization-of-health-care ). In the near future, you’ll be seeing additional ways to assess your personal health.

Companies are working mobile devices to continuously evaluate the function of our bodies:  blood pressure, non-invasive glucose, lung function and more. When you or your loved ones are sick, the doctor will be able to ‘see’ you via your computer and devices enabling them to remotely hear your heart and lungs, see inside your throat and ears for example. And whether well or sick, analytics will assist in your assessment.

We could call it ‘Biofeedback 2.0’ – Adding individual and population analytics to accurate wearables and we’ve got the makings of a personal health revolution.

(mathew.h.taylor@intel.com)