Data Driven

Personal Metrics and Analytics are Sexy!

Companies have always been data driven. In order to make educated business decisions, you analyze figures and utilize typical business metrics. These metrics help to assess the health and direct the future of your business. Technology, specifically related to smart products, is allowing the same methodology to be applied to our personal lives (although the metrics may be quite different).

I realized yesterday how data driven my personal life is, whether it is my physical health and fitness, energy usage at home, or my personal finances, and how it is similar to the way we manage Pocobor. I now have affordable (if not free) access to tools that gather and analyze information on every aspect of my life, which help advise appropriate and effective decisions. There are tons of these products available; below is a listing of a few of the products I use or am excited to try to help me manage my personal life:


  • Nike+:  I’ve exercised with music for years, but now for an affordable $30 add-on I can track my running performance and even receive motivation when I’m jockeying my desk for too many days in a row. I no longer need to remember to write down my runs in a clunky manual log and the computer is objective about when, how far, and fast I ran. The data and Nike’s analytics are now a training partner and a coach to improve my fitness and have made an exercise regimen part of my life. I recommend checking out this personal metrics article “The Nike Experiment: How the Shoe Giant Unleashed the Power of Personal Metrics in Wired that talks in detail about the the development and influence of Nike+.
  • BodyTrace: I haven’t used this one, but we definitely had this idea at Pocobor: a Wi-Fi enabled scale that records and tracks your scale readings by sending your periodic reading to the cloud and providing web-access with analytics. I’ve never tracked my weight over a long period of time, but I’m interested to see how my weight fluctuates as the seasons change, which affects my activity and eating habits.
  • Money/Finances

  • Mint.com: All our (my wife and my) accounts and assets are synthesized in one place, which is incredibly simple, but amazingly effective. We are able to quickly look at our spending in any category and easily compare to our budget to make important monetary decisions day to day, month to month, or year to year. Sure this idea isn’t new (Quicken has been around for years) but it’s never been this easy, seamless, free, and on my iPhone.
  • Energy Expenditure

  • Kill-a-Watt: How much power is my 90’s fridge consuming? Does that manufacturer’s rating have any bearing on performance 15 years down the road? Plugging the fridge through the Kill-a-Watt has allowed me to assess the fridge’s inefficiency. Now how can I get my landlord to replace it?
  • PG&E Smart Meter: I’m still waiting for PG&E (which is the local utility company here in San Francisco) to show up in my neighborhood. I want some more information about that large bill that keeps showing up every month. By looking at my day to day usage as it happens, I can effectively identify how my personal behavior is driving cost. How much extra does that porch light left on cost?
  • Smart Home/Home Automation: I’m renting now so my home is relatively unintelligent, but home automation in general is the future. Did I leave the hall light on when I left this morning? How much money will that cost me? Let me look online, look at energy usage, and remotely turn off any systems that are unjustly/unintentionally using power. I am ready for real time monitoring, control, and programming of all of the systems in my home so that I can make intelligent decisions about how my home functions. Microsoft is even getting on-board with Hohm, read more about it in this blog posting “Microsoft Dials Hohm to Cut Home Energy Use” on CNet News.
  • Toyota Prius: Driving hasn’t been the same since I traded in my gas-guzzling pickup for a Prius. My fuel economy is printed out right there on the screen so I really know what sort of energy I’m consuming. I’ve even seen how my driving habits effect my fuel economy on my commute. Should I slow down? How much money would that save me?
  • It’s exciting for Pocobor to be part of this revolution by developing smart products related to those listed above. Data and data analytics in our personal and professional lives is becoming more and more accessible. Consumers can now assess their personal lives and identify poignant changes to better their lives with simple and effective products available to them.

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