Chris Dancy uses over 300 trackers and services to record every data point in his life.
It seems that every day a new fitness tracking band or a new life-logging app pops up, holding our attention for a few hours before quietly retreating into the shadows of forgotten technologies. However, one man is not only harnessing hundreds of these platforms and tracking every personal data point imaginable, he’s beating the system at its own game.
Meet Chris Dancy, an IT podcast creator and software developer who many consider to be “the most connected man in the world.” Not only does he monitor his every movement with devices like Google Glass, Pebble, Fitbit Flex, and a Memoto camera, but he also tracks his dogs, his brainwaves, and his Volkswagen Touareg. A communication breakdown occurs when we’re not able to create a comprehensive overview that pools all of these data sources into one platform, and thus Dancy has developed his own system to see the big picture.
PSFK chatted with Dancy about his belief that “the information of you” is the way of the future, as well as his predictions for the wearable tech industry and personal tracking in the years to come.
What motivated you to want to participate in this kind of personal project?
I started 5 years ago when I noticed my doctor was having a hard time keeping up with my health records. Around the same time, I became worried that the work I did on the internet could be lost if a service shut down. In an effort to collect this information, I started looking for ways I could gather data in a “Low Friction” routine (passive data collection), [since] I didn’t have time to write things down. I created a system to move data from connected systems into a Google calendar so I could review, search and analyze it. I currently have between 300-700 systems that capture data on my life in real time at any given moment.
None of the tracking devices do a good job now with getting open access to your information. The closest we come is the BodyMedia that gives me the ability to export my data to a spreadsheet. Most other trackers force you to use their apps and services, [which are] sometimes premium and they don’t allow you to co-mingle your data with other services. We live in a data elysium. You can’t switch trackers without losing years of data. Can you imagine switching doctors and losing all your health records?
In many ways [this] experiment has been only positive. I had the time and resources to create this system and create the workflows. It was and is interesting and important to me and many people in the future. I have lost 100 pounds, learned to meditate, learned to motivate myself into mood-states and even worked on ways to make my home “precondition” itself for events happening on my calendar in the future.
The negative effects are usually things that are hard to describe. Pressure or opinions from people in different communities on the internet, personal attacks in comments. Also many of my peers didn’t understand what it was I was creating or doing. The pressure because of the media attention has lead me to make career changes in the coming months.
Where do you see the wearable tech trend heading in the next few years?
There will be no one major wearable product. I do see the rise of a “Human operating system” or what I call “Existence as a Platform”. The biggest thing we will see in the next five years will be these different devices working together and creating lifestyle systems with receipts for goals or outcomes. This is how I have created my system and this is how these systems will be forced to evolve. Humans and their environment are the next big business to change the globe. We will leave the “Internet” and create the “Inner-net.”
As someone who is completely immersed in this technology, what features would you want to see in a tracker in the future?
I would love to create a consumer version of my system. In the future, it would be great to track blood sugar, mobile ambient noise, cash transactions, blood levels daily, DNA damage weekly.
Are you concerned about privacy? Why or why not?
Nope. In every part of human history, there had to be someone to gamble everything to see where the limits where. I have the dice and the data, let’s roll.
Images courtesy of Chris Dancy.