By Ana Andreescu, Senior Director of Marketing at GoodData

How many hours of sleep did you get last night? Did you stick to your diet today? How much exercise did you get last week?

Before big data, those answers would have been vague. You might remember that you slept six hours. You more or less stuck to your diet, and you exercised a couple of days last week. Maybe you still feel tired and overweight and you don’t know why.

health apps use big data

Now, a slew of big data health apps are changing those estimates into quantifiable details. Mobile apps in particular are quickly becoming an integral part of overall health care. Users become aware of their health and recognize bad habits through logging daily activities into the health apps, allowing them to reflect on their routines and take a proactive role towards a healthier, fuller life. Instead of feeling frustrated at your fatigue and spare tire, you can see exactly why they exist.

North Americans purchased nearly ten million self-tracking devices in 2011, according to Rick Smolan’s The Human Face of Big Data. The book also reports that 27 percent of Internet users have tracked or monitored health indicators or symptoms online. Half a million people will be using smartphone health apps within the next five years, according to the Global Mobile Health Market Report by research2guidance.

The following mobile big data apps are among the better-known tracking and monitoring systems:

  • BodyMedia is an accelerometer-equipped armband that automatically monitor your sleep quality, caloric intake, exercise intensity and other details related to fitness and weight management.
  • FitBit is a similar device, also available through your mobile phone and in a device-synced wireless scale, that compares your real-time calorie consumption and exercise with your goals.
  • MotionX measures your resting heartbeat to figure out when you get the best sleep and wakes you up at the best possible time.
  • 23andMe runs your DNA to find your ancestry, predict your probabilities of getting certain diseases and also uses your anonymized medical data to contribute to medical research.
  • Lift lets you come up with your own goals, check in daily and compare your progress to other users.

Good for the Individual, Good for the Company

The reason that personal big data is so popular is because for the first time, you can quantify and measure the activities that lead you to better success in life, both from a physical and mental standpoint. You can visualize, track, monitor your progress and make ongoing adjustments to live the most optimal life possible.

This is exactly the same reason that businesses are using big data platforms to enable success. Big data platforms have transformed a series of vague notions into an interactive, easy-to-understand set of indicators. If your customer health is low, you can see that it’s because your helpdesk is addressing the wrong tickets. If you’re overweight, you can see that it’s because you’re not exercising often enough. Big data is transforming every angle of our lives, from private to professional.

Are you using personal big data by tracking or monitoring your health and habits? If so, which apps are you using? Are they helping?