The popularity of wearable devices like Fitbit is fueled by the addictive logic of the quantified self movement – if we can collect enough data about our daily routines, we can tweak our behavior to live healthier and be happier. Living a better life doesn't have to mean dramatic changes – getting a new job, moving to a new city, cutting out carbs (no!) – it can be as simple as taking 1,000 more steps every day and sleeping 20 more minutes each night.
This is the life hacker mentality, in which everything can be improved and upgraded for maximum performance, including ourselves. Wearable devices provide us with concrete data about the minutia of our daily routines. They can tell you exactly how long you've been sitting, sleeping, biking, running or standing. And based on what's "healthy" for someone your age, height, and weight, you can set goals to improve on those numbers.
There's no doubt that we'd all be healthier if we slept more, exercised more and ate less. But is data collection the surest route to self-discovery? A discussion panel at the 2015 SXSW Festival took up the topic "Wearables and the Happiness Quotient," asking whether ubiquitous computing and biometric data could lead to a "happiness algorithm" [source: Interbrand]. Is there an app for that?