Timeline of quantified self

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This is a timeline of quantified self, attempting to describe significant or illustrative events in the history of the movement and associated technologies.

Sample questions

The following are some interesting questions that can be answered by reading this timeline:

  • What are some of the varied quantified self functions covered in this timeline?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Function/domain (when applicable)"
    • You will mostly see functions such as fitness and health tracking, but also other personal data tracking functions and functions of background technologies.
  • What are some concepts related to cuantified self and when were they conceived?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Concept development".
    • You will read terms such as 'personal informatics', 'lively data', and 'quantified self'.
  • What are some notable or illustrative quantified self services launched in the market?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Service launch".
    • You will see a number of software applications and the different services they offer within the quantified self market.
  • What are some notable or illustrative quantified self devices launched in the market?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Device launch".
  • What are some technological advances that fueled the development of quantified self?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Background technology".
    • You will see events describing the launch of milestone technologies, such as GPS and Bluetooth.
  • What are some artistic expressions and designs related to the concept of quantified self?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Art and design".
    • You will see some artistic and design expressions exploring aspects of quantified self.
  • What are some events describing demographical aspects of the quantified self movement and practices?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Demographics".
    • You will see events discriminating the use of quantified self technologies among genders and ethnic groups.
  • What are some notable publications specializing in the topic of quantified self?
    • Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Literature".
    • You will see some publications elaborating on topics ranging from effective use self-tracking data and technology, to discussions on social, cultural, political, and economical aspects of quantified self.

Other events are described under the following types: "Conference", "Notable case", "Notable comment", "Security", "Statistics", "Trend growth", and "Website launch".

Big picture

Time period Development summary More details
Ancient times Early ideas Monitoring, measuring and recording elements of one's body and life as a form of self-improvement or self-reflection is already discussed in ancient times.[1]
Latter half of the 20th century onwards Early technologies The Digital Revolution introduces technologies that facilitate tracking practices, leading to renewed interest in self-tracking.[1] The 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s introduce multiple background technologies that would be used for quantified self, such as the biosensor, GPS, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi later in the century. The term database is introduced in the 1960s. In the 1970s, the idea of quantified self becomes technically envisioned.[2] In the 1990s, people start experimenting with lifelogging techniques and wearable computing devices.[1] In the same decade, Telehealth and telemedicine technologies are introduced, involving computerized devices located within patients' homes to facilitate remote monitoring of their bodies.[1]
21st century Consolidation The term quantified self is invented in 2007 by Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly, both who start the Quantified Self movement in the same year.[3] In the second decade of the century, large companies such as Apple, Samsung and Google launch wearable devices with self tracking functions. Today, the smartphone has become a repository of the self, and an increasing number of apps are being brought onto the market, enabling smartphones to record fitness, health, and others kinds of personal data.[4]

Full timeline

Year Month and date (approximately) Event type Function/domain (when applicable) Details Location/launch base
1945 Notable comment Lifelogging American presidential science advisor Vannevar Bush publishes an essay asserting his belief that humans' ability to remember could be enhanced by technology. In this essay, Bush introduces his idea of the Memex, a mechanized device in which people could store all their documents, records, books, letters and memos. People could wear small cameras on their foreheads to capture details of their daily lives and add them to the Memex archive.[1] United States
1962 Background technology Chemical substance tracking American biochemist Leland C. Clark and Champ Lyons invent the first biosensor.[5] United States
1972–1997 Notable case Lifelogging American lifelogger was Robert Shields manages to manually record 25 years of his life from 1972 to 1997, at 5-minute intervals. This record would result in a 37-million word diary, thought to be the longest ever written.[6] United States
1978 Background technology Facial expression recognition The Facial Action Coding System (FACS) is created by American psychologist Paul Ekman and Wallace V. Friesen. Based on earlier work by Swedish anatomist Carl-Herman Hjortsjö, FACS is a system to taxonomize human facial movements by their appearance on the face.[7] Ubnited States
1978 Background technology Position tracking The first Global Positioning System (GPS) prototype spacecraft is launched, introducing this technology.[8] United States
1980 Background technology Heart rate monitoring The first wireless electrocardiograph is invented.[9]
1998 May Background technology Data transmission Bluetooth is introduced. This wireless mechanism is essential for data transmission from wearable tracking devices and sensor readers to the smartphone.[10] United States
1998 Notable case Lifelogging Using digital technologies, American electrical engineer Gordon Bell starts recording as many aspects of his life as possible, including all his correspondence and documents, books he has read, photos, home movies and videos, computer files, mementos, meetings, conversations and phone calls. In 2000, he would start wearing a camera, and in 2002, BodyMedia, an early health-tracking armband.[1] United States
1998 September 12 Background technology Internet access Wi-Fi is introduced, allowing high-speed data transfer over short distances.[11]
1999 Background technology Health tracking The concept of eHealth is introduced as a healthcare practice supported by electronic processes and communication.[12][13]
1999 Concept development Data transmission The concept of Internet of Things is introduced.[14]
2001 Research Lifelogging MyLifeBits launches as a life-logging experiment. It is a Microsoft Research project inspired by Vannevar Bush's hypothetical Memex computer system. The "experimental subject" of the project is computer scientist Gordon Bell, and the project consists in trying to collect a lifetime of storage on and about Bell.[15] United States
2002 Art and design Data repurposing British designer and researcher Lucy Kimbell creates a performance art piece entitled ‘LIX Index’ that involves her uploading 50 pieces of her personal data into a database, and producing a weekly index from these disparate sources of data. These data pieces include such elements as her bank balance, hours spent outdoors, the air temperature where she lives, conversations with friends and family, tweets, orgasms, physical activity and intellectual stimulation.[1][16][17] United Kingdom
2004 January 1[18] Service launch Workplace wellness Richard Branson’s Virgin Group launches Virgin Pulse, a platform that offers both productivity-, health- and fitness-tracking programs for workers, including wearable fitness, diet, weight, sleep and work commitment trackers.[19]
2005 Service launch Fitness tracking MyFitnessPal is launched. It is a health smartphone app that tracks nutrition, exercise, and diet. In 2020, MyFitnessPal would be acquired by Francisco Partners for US$345 million.[20] United States
2006 April Organization Direct-to-consumer genetic testing 23andMe is founded. Based in Sunnyvale, California, it is a publicly held personal genomics and biotechnology company best known for providing a direct-to-consumer genetic testing service in which customers provide a saliva sample that is laboratory analysed, using single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping, to generate reports relating to the customer's ancestry and genetic predispositions to health-related topics.[21][22] United States
2006 Concept development In the context of sociomateralism literature, Marcus describes the concept of 'assemblage' as configured when humans, nonhumans, practices, ideas and discourses come together in a complex system. Interactions of humans and digital nonhumans configure several different types of assemblage, such as one consisting in the human-body–device–sensor–software–data configuration that is generated when people use a digital device to monitor and measure their physical activities.[1][23]
2006 August 24 Background technology Data storing Amazon.com releases its Elastic Compute Cloud product. Cloud computing starts being popularized.[24] United States
2007 January 15 Service launch Reading tracking Goodreads is founded. It is a mobile and web app that allows its users to find, share, recommend, read, and review the books they like. In 2013, it would be acquired by Amazon.[25] As of 2021, Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations.[26] United States
2007 January 28 Service launch Task managing Todoist is founded. It keeps track of tasks, projects, and goals in one simple place, synching across all the users devices and integrating with all their favorite apps.[27]
2007 March 26 Device launch Fitness tracking American consumer electronics and fitness company Fitbit is founded. It produces activity trackers, smartwatches, wireless-enabled wearable technology devices that measure data such as the number of steps walked, heart rate, quality of sleep, steps climbed, and other personal metrics involved in fitness.[28] United States
2007 April 1 Service launch Productivity monitoring RescueTime is launched. Based in Seattle, Washington, it is a web-based time management tool that keeps track of what the user does and for how long when they are on their computer. Productivity-monitoring devices and software are becoming a feature of many workplaces.[29] United States
2007 Research Lifelogging Rob Kitchin and Martin Dodge suggest that lifeloggers "should not try to achieve the total recording of as many details of their lives as they can, as is proposed by the ideal of lifelogging. Instead, as a way of evading surveillance and the appropriation of their personal details by others, lifeloggers should seek to achieve only a partial record, by using devices that block the recording of some details or record others only imperfectly". They also suggest that "an ethics of forgetting" should be incorporated into the design of lifelogging devices and software as part of allowing people to forget some aspects of their lives and to evade the close surveillance of their lives exerted by others. People should be able to "dupe the log" in order to "unsettle the authenticity of the record".[1]
2007 Research General American sociologist Sherry Turkle describes what she calls "evocative objects", devices that carry and convey memories and emotions and remind us of our histories and social relationships. "They bear the marks of our bodies as we touch and handle them. They are also invested with images of our bodies and of significant others (photographs and videos) that we may take or store in their memories. Devices that are endowed with self-tracking equipment also generate, process and archive highly personal information about our bodies' functions, movements and geolocation."[1] United States
2007 Concept development General The term 'quantified self' is proposed in San Francisco by Wired magazine editors Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly as "a collaboration of users and tool makers who share an interest in self knowledge through self-tracking."[30][31] United States
2007 September 25 Website launch General quantifiedself.com is registered.[32] Set up by Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly, the website provides discussion forums, supports regional meetings of members and two annual international conferences, and publishes a blog covering self-tracking aspects and strategies.[1]
2007 Organization The Quantified Self movement is founded by Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly. This ovement aims to explore ‘what new tools of self-tracking are good for’ and ‘to create an environment where this question can be explored on a human level’. At the beginning, the community is limited to a Bay Area Quantified Self Meetup Group. Since then the movement would gain huge momentum, and hundreds of QS meetup groups worldwide would be formed.[33][34][35] United States
2007 December 1 Device launch Fitness tracking Nintendo launches the Wii Fit, an exergaming video game that incorporates sensors that are abe to configure body metrics as part of the games it offers.[36] Japan
2009 Device launch Philips releases Fractals, a prototype consisting in digital jewelry or scarf arrangements that are designed to be a hybrid between clothing and jewelry. Using light-emitting diode (LED) configurations to display data, these objects sense bodily changes of the wearer as well as the proximity of others' bodies.[37] Netherlands
2009 February Literature David Ewing Duncan publishes Experimental Man: What One Man's Body Reveals about His Future, Your Health, and Our Toxic World.[38]
2009 June 22 Literature (article) Gary Wolf publishes on wired.com an article entitled Know thyself: Tracking every facet of life, from sleep to mood and pain, 24/7/365, which seeks to explain the concept of the quantified self.[39]
2009 August 18 Service launch Fitness tracking American internet service company Strava launches as an internet service for tracking human exercise. It incorporates social network features. The app uses self-tracked data from a number of compatible GPS devices. Once a run or bicycle ride has been completed, users can upload the details of their route so as to quantify and analyze their performance.[1][40] United States
2010 January Concept development The term 'personal informatics' is first coined by Ian Li and his colleagues as “a class of applications to help people collect and reflect on personal information”.[41][42] United States
2010 April 28 Literature (article) Gary Wolf writes an article in the topic of quantified self, entitled The Data-Driven Life, which described the growing movement of people seeking a deeper knowledge of themselves through tracking sleep, exercise, sex, food, location, and productivity.[43]
2011 May Conference The first Quantified Self international conference is held in Mountain View, California.[44] United States
2011 June Art and design Microsoft introduces its prototype "The Printing Dress", an electronic textile that explores the notion of wearable text.[45][46] United States
2011 Concept development Rob Kitchin and Martin Dodge use the term ‘code/space’ to denote the ways in which software and devices such as mobile phones and sensors are configuring concepts of space and identity. They argue that the production of space is increasingly dependent on code, and code is written to produce space. Examples of code/space include airport check-in areas, networked offices, and cafés that are transformed into workspaces by laptops and wireless access.[47]
2011 November Conference The first European Quantified Self (QS) conference is conducted in Amsterdam.[44] Netherlands
2012 January 19 Device launch Fitness tracking Nike introduces the Nike+ FuelBand, an activity tracker worn on the wrist and compatible with iPhone, iPad, or Android devices.[48]
2012 April Literature Fitness tracking Bruce W. Perry publishes Fitness for Geeks: Real Science, Great Nutrition, and Good Health, which, among other things, examines apps and widgets for self-tracking various fitness issues.[49]
2012 Trend growth Position tracking Pendyala and Bhat describe a new era of place-based study, ushered in by the development of relatively low-cost, portable geographic positioning system (GPS) technologies.[50]
2012 Art and design In an exhibition entitled ‘Stranger Visions’, Heather Dewey-Hagborg creates portrait sculptures from the analysis of human genetic material that she collected from public places: specifically, DNA that had been left on cigarette butts discarded in the streets. Using elements of the genomic profile that was created from this DNA, Dewey-Hagborg manages to print out a 3D model of the person's face, in an attempt to imagine his or her appearance. The intention is to provoke audiences into contemplating the possibility that people's DNA could be taken from detritus that they had unknowingly left behind and their identity inspected.[1] Ireland
2012 September 28 Organization The Quantified Self Institute is officially founded as an academic research institute in the Netherlands by the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, in collaboration with the Quantified Self Labs.[44][1]
2012 September Conference The third Quantified Self (QS) conference is held at Stanford University, with over 400 attendees.[33][51] United States
2012 October Demographics As of date, the Quantified Self community comprises 70 worldwide meetup groups with 5,000 participants having attended 120 events since the community formed in 2008.[33] Worldwide
2012 October Statistics General As of date, the Quantified Self web site lists over 500 tools, mostly concerning exercise, weight, health, and goal achievement.[33]
2012 Year round Literature By this time, news articles represent quantified self practices as growing in popularity and becoming not only an important feature of health promotion but a part of everyday life, as a way of maximizing productivity and happiness as well as health.[1]
2013 January 28 Demographics A Pew Research Center survey reports that women and men are equally likely to engage in self-tracking, and that African Americans are more likely than non-Hispanic whites or Latinos to do so.[52] United States
2013 April 11 Service launch Fitness tracking, teaching assistant Finnish sports instruments manufacturer Polar Electro launches Polar GoFit, an app with a set of heart-rate sensors expressly designed for physical education teachers as a monitoring tool for students' physical activities during lessons.[53][1] Finland
2013 May Service launch Pregnancy testing Ukrainian-American software engineer Max Levchin introduces Glow, a mobile app that tracks women's fertility cycles. Aimed at couples looking to conceive, the app uses machine learning to identify trends among its female users, prods women to regularly input several data points, such as the time of the menstrual cycle, emotional discomfort, weight, and other details of their physical state.[54]
2013 June Literature (article) General British newspaper The Guardian asserts that 'The "Quantified Self" movement [is] all the rage for people tracking their physical activity, food intake, vital signs and even their personal genome through digital services'.[1]
2013 Background technology Data transmission By this time, the Internet of Things has evolved into to a system using multiple technologies, ranging from the Internet to wireless communication and from microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) to embedded systems, and supported by traditional fields of automation (including the automation of buildings and homes), wireless sensor networks, GPS, control systems, and others.[14]
2013 Research Fitness/health tracking Study by Dennison and colleagues interviewing young English users of self-tracking health and fitness apps shows that they don't want other people to know about their use, because it represents them as weak or vulnerable, in need of the assistance of such apps to achieve behavior change. Therefore, sharing their self-monitored information with friends or family members would position them as embarrasing and socially undesirable.[55] United Kingdom
2013 Concept development Data production Michael Savage uses the term 'lively data' in an article, to denote the constant generation of large masses of digital data as part of the digital data economy, and the implications of this practice for sociological research methods.[1]
2013 Service launch Fitness tracking PumpUp launches as an app directed at social fitness status updates. It offers users a photo-based social network on which they can share photos of themselves after tough workouts, healthy meals, or other health-related activities, so as to visualize progress.[56]
2013 October 25 Art and design An exhibition at Trinity College Dublin entitled ‘Grow Your Own: Life after Nature’ is aimed to invite people to consider the implications of synthetic biology. The projects present ‘living machines’ that result from collaborations between engineers, scientists, designers, artists and biohackers. The exhibition proposes questions that are central to understanding self-tracking cultures and practices, such as ‘how might designed life merge into our own? Where is the boundary between our things and our selves; the designed products that we consume, and our own bodies and identities?’.[1][57] Ireland
2014 March Device launch Multifunction Sony launches the SmartBand SWR10, a digital wristband designed to be worn day and night. It measures sleep cycle to wake the user at the ideal time. It also notifies the user with vibrations about incoming calls, texts, and Facebook and Twitter activity.[58] Japan
2014 April Market General Amazon launches the Wearable Technology Web Store, a page aimed to facilitate for customers to browse the latest wearables from a wide variety of vendors, learn more about products of interest and eventually make a more informed purchase.[59] United States
2014 April 26 Demographics General Study published on the Quantified Self website reports that American middle-class white men with high levels of digital technological know-how are perhaps the more public face of self-tracking. The largest group of self-trackers in this study were monitoring health-related factors such as physical activity, food consumption, weight, and mood. A group comprised of software engineers and students are found to be interested in tracking work productivity and cognitive performance. Others are found to want to have new life experiences through self-tracking, which they considered to be a form of experimenting.[60]
2014 May 21 Service launch Weight, movement, nutrition tracking Wellness & Prevention, a division of Johnson & Johnson, launches self-tracking app Track Your Health, which allows users to track and aggregate data, set goals, and visualize their weight, movement and nutrition progress in the form of charts.[61] United States
2014 Art and design Heart rate monitoring Khot, Lee, Munz, Aggarwal, and Mueller describe a prototype system called TastyBeats, which consists in creating a unique, personalised drink by using heart-beat data from an individual engaged in physical activity. The height of the jet of the drink fountain used and the flavours that are produced for the drink are influenced by the heart rate of the individuals who contribute their data. This work attempts to expand the view of visualizing physical activity beyond virtual screen by providing a real-time and interactive visualization of heart beat data. The TastyBeats system may be used to construct personalized energy drinks that can customize the contents on the basis of the physical activity data of each user.[62][1]
2014 Project Heart rate monitoring Khot, Pennings and Mueller develop a project named ‘Edi-Pulse’, which transforms self-tracked heart-rate data into 3D chocolate materializations, with the purpose to reward people for engaging in physical activity with a chocolate that represents the level of exertion to which they have engaged in it. The energy expended in exercise is converted into food energy, which then acts to create more energy in the body.[1]
2014 Art and design Blood-pressure monitoring Design researcher Stephen Barrass uses a technique called acoustic sonification with the purpose to render personal self-tracked data into objects. Using his own data from a year of blood-pressure monitoring, Barrass manages to produce a version of a Tibetan singing bowl. Barrass argues that not only can people see and hear this physical manifestation of their blood-pressure readings, they can also use the sound as a reflective stimulus that helps them calm their bodies and therefore reduce high blood pressure. This data object can therefore act as both a representation of personal data and an intervention in the type of data that are subsequently generated.[63][1]
2014 Research Khot, Hjorth and Mueller introduce a system which consists in a number of households that use different material manifestations of their physical activity. These artefacts include a 3D graph of heart-rate data, a flower shape where the length and width of the petals represent heart-rate duration and intensity, a frog shape that changes in size according to the amount of physical activity carried out during one day, a die representing the six zones of heart-beat data, and a ring displaying the number of active hours in a day. The participants are supplied with a digital heart-rate monitor, an iPod Touch endowed with an app for collecting the data, and a 3D printer for their homes to print out the artefacts from their data. The researchers find that viewing and handling the objects helps people gain a sense of their bodily data and illustrates different levels of engagement with these data. They conclude from their investigations: ‘we envision people crafting their world with moments from their lives, using data that was [sic] previously only seen in digital form but now re-entering their physical world in an embodied material form’ The researchers conclude that the emotional connections that people had with their personal data were strengthened by the ability to handle these objects.[64][1] Australia
2014 Demographics Fitness tracking Study by Nielsen reports that women are more likely to wear fitness bands than men, and also more likely to use other specialized mobile health devices. He also reports that owners of wearable devices are more likely to have a high household income, particularly fitness-band owners.[65]
2014 Concept development Data production Elwell argues that, instead of 'Internet of Things', we should be referring to the 'Internet od Life', in relation to the increassing masses of digital data on a greater number of elements of human life.[66]
2014 Art and design Lifelogging An exhibition of artistic responses to lifelogging is held at Chicago's Elmhurst Art Museum. It includes people using photographic or painted self-portraits, the market and sentimental value of objects they own or things they carry while travelling and translated longitude and latitude data of their daily spatial location into kinetic sculptures or weather data into woven sculptures and musical scores.[1] United States
2014 Research Intel Research anthropologists Dawn Nafus and Jamie Sherman conduct in ethnographic fieldwork with members of the Quantified Self movement, seeking to document the beliefs and practices underpinning this organization. The researchers discover that discourses of mindfulness and awareness of one's body and one's life were dominant at the Quantified Self Global Conference they attended. They also observe that QS movement members tend to combine technical, community, commercial and personal objectives and often have some kind of technological, academic or medical background. Against arguments that people who relinquish the use of self-tracking devices or practices are disaffected with them or do not find them useful, Nafus and Sherman suggest that people may do so because a new pattern of behaviour has become habituated, so that self-tracking is no longer required.[67] United States
2014 Research Energy monitoring Dawn Nafus investigates how people in London and West Coast United States use a digital home energy-monitoring system. Her interviews reveal the complexities involved in making sense of the kind of information that is created by sensor-based technologies. Among the findings, The interviews show that the more the people learnt about their home energy use, the more questions were raised for them about what else they should be monitoring or about how they could compare their data with other people's data in a useful manner.[1] United Kingdom, United States
2014 Research Fitness tracking In an attempt to investigate self-tracking cultures and practices empirically and from a more in-depth perspective, Minna Ruckenstein interviews Finnish people who volunteer to wear self-tracking devices continually for a one-week period, for monitoring their heart rates and their physical activity levels. Many of her study participants find the devices reassuring and regard them as benevolent supporters of their efforts to increase their physical activity and fitness. Ruckenstein finds that people who are already regular exercisers or have an interest in monitoring technologies are particularly drawn to participating in the research. The findings also reveal that, at least in the initial stages of wearing a device, people report feeling more aware of their bodies than usual, although some find wearing such devices annoying. Not all of the participants find the data generated from the devices useful or interesting, but some enjoy seeing and reflecting upon their data.[1] Finland
2014 Project Microbial data monitoring American synthetic biologist Christina Agapakis and Norwegian odor expert Sissel Tolaas reveal their ‘self-made’ human cheese project, which involves using human microbiota taken from the skin of several people to culture cheeses, each of which have developed from the specific microflora of these people. The exhibition displays these cheeses to the public and invites its members to smell the individual microbial projects. "Just as each human body has a unique microbial collection, so too the cheese that is made from each person's microbes emits a unique odour. This project therefore highlights the intersections between individual features of people's bodies – features of which they may not be overtly aware – and how these data – in this case, their unique skin microbial collection – may be converted into another material form and identified by others via the sense of smell."[1]
2014 Research Heart rate monitoring Khot, Hjorth, and Mueller investigate the use of 3D printing to produce material artefacts that represent an individual's heart rate during physical exertion. "The idea of such artefacts is to encourage people to achieve greater awareness of their personal data and to engage in self-reflection upon being confronted with the material representation of these data".[1]
2014 July Device launch Fitness tracking A smart technology footwear is introduced in Hyderabad, India. The shoe insoles are connected to a smartphone application that uses Google Maps, and vibrate to tell users when and where to turn to reach their destination.[68][69][70][71] India
2014 July Device launch Emotion tracking London-based Studio XO partners with Saatchi & Saatchi to create XOX, an emotional technology platform that allows brands and artists to track people's emotional states. XOX enables brands and artists to collect data on the emotional states of individuals in order to measure 'crowd excitement' so as to adjust products and services accordingly.The device is also advertised for people wearing it to be able to identify their own emotions. It consists in a wristband embedded with sensors that collects 'intimate data' on 'levels of excitement'.[72]
2014 July 31 Security General A Forbes magazine report refers to research that finds that there are numerous data security risks associated with a large number of self-tracking apps and devices that were examined, which means that personal data uploaded to these technologies could easily be accessed by others and sold to third parties for commercial gain.[1]
2014 August Device launch Biology, physiology tracking Ralph Lauren announces launch of the 'Polo Tech Shirt', a compression shirt that reads biological and physiological information.[73]
2014 September Research Fitness tracking TechnologyResearch publishes results of an internet survey of U.S. residents, finding that a quarter of the respondents said that they used either a fitness-tracking device of a smartphone app to track their health, weight or exercise. Lack of interest and concern over cost were the primary reasons given by respondents who did not use those devices, although almost half of this group said that they would use a fitness-tracking device if it were recommended or prescribed by their doctor.[74]
2014 October 28 Service launch Fitness tracking Google Fit launches. It is a health-tracking platform developed by Google for the Android operating system, Wear OS and Apple Inc.'s iOS. It uses sensors in a user's activity tracker or mobile device to record physical fitness activities (such as walking, cycling, etc.), which are measured against the user's fitness goals to provide a comprehensive view of their fitness.[75][76] United States
2015 January Device launch Fitness and sleep tracking Jewelry company Swarovski, in partnership with Misfit, announces release of a crystal-encrusted fitness and sleep tracker.[77]
2015 April Device launch Health tracking, fitness tracking Apple releases its smartwatch, the Apple Watch, which serves the purpose as a wearable health- abd fitness- tracking device.[78] United States
2015 Art and design Data repurposing American data artist Laurie Frick develops her FRICKbits Data Art app, with the purpose to encourage self-trackers to turn their data "into art". Frick uses various materials for portraying the personal information she has collected on herself, including her ‘Floating Data’ project, which involves Frick's use of laser cut anodized aluminium panels to display the details of her walking data, which she describes as a ‘human data portrait’.[1] United States
2015 Art and design Data sharing/repurposing Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec conduct an analog data drawing project, consisting in collecting and hand drawing their personal data and sending it to each other in the form of postcards, eventually becoming friends. As an example of using analogue drawing techniques to represent personal data, each week, and for a year, they would collect and measure a particular type of data about their lives, use this data to make a drawing on a postcard-sized sheet of paper, and then drop the postcards in the boxes. They would share a blog to describe and represent the project, observing that this data collection and visualization practice ‘became a sort of performance and ritual in our lives, affecting our days and weeks, and inherently changing our behaviour’.[1][79] United Kingdom, United States
2015 July Demographics General According to quantifiedself.com, as of date, there are 207 quantified self 'meetup' groups in 37 countries around the world, with a total of over 52,000 members. The largest number of groups is in the United States.[1]
2015 July 13 Demographics Wearable technology A Business Insider report claims that, 'in just a few years, there could be more people using wearable tech devices than there are in the US and Canada'.[80] Worldwide
2015 July 30 Concept development Nick Ingelbrecht and Gareth Herschel elaborate on the concept of 'personal analyics', which refers to the empowerment of individuals to analyze and exploit their own data to achieve a range of objectives and benefits across their work and personal lives.[81]
2016 April 8 Literature (book) Dawn Nafus publishes Quantified: Biosensing Technologies in Everyday Life, which elaborates on social, cultural, political, and economical aspects of quantified self. The book discusses empowering, social control, volunteering, enforcement, data interpretation, and how does all this affect the relationship between medical practice and self care, between scientific and lay knowledge.[82]
2016 May 2 Literature (book) Deborah Lupton publishes The Quantified Self, which "critically analyzes the social, cultural and political dimensions of contemporary self-tracking and identifies the concepts of selfhood and human embodiment and the value of the data that underpin them".[1][83]
2016 June 24 Literature (book) Dawn Nafus and Gina Neff publish Self-Tracking: The Mit Press Essential Knowledge Series, which introduces the essential ideas and key challenges of self-tracking.[84]
2017 June Research Location tracking De Groot and colleagues argue that the proliferation of GPS and GIS technologies present particular opportunities to those interested in single-subject or N-of-1 investigations.[85]
2017 September 11 Literature (book) Phoebe V. Moore publishes The Quantified Self in Precarity: Work, Technology and What Counts, which attempts to demonstrate how workplace quantification leads to high turnover rates, workplace rationalization and worker stress and anxiety.[86]
2017 September 28 Literature (book) Burkhardt Funk and Mark Hoogendoorn publish Machine Learning for the Quantified Self: On the Art of Learning from Sensory Data, which explains the complete loop to effectively use self-tracking data for machine learning.[87]
2019 Service launch Metabolic health tracking NutriSense is founded. It is a data-driven metabolic health platform that tracks key metabolic markers in real-time. It uses continuous glucose monitoring, AI-powered meal tracking, and expert coaching. It uses machine learning technology.[88][89]
2020 August 27 Device launch Fitness tracking Amazon introduces Halo, a health-tracking platform that combines a suite of AI-powered health features that provide actionable insights into overall wellness via an app with a band, which uses multiple advanced sensors to provide the highly accurate information necessary to power Halo insights.[90][91] United States
2021 April 15 Device launch Blood circulation monitoring Researchers in Japan build a PV-powered device to measure volumetric variations in blood circulation. The system, which is just a few microns thick, was built with an organic solar module, a polymer light-emitting diode (PLED), and an organic photodetector.[92] Japan

Visual and numerical data

Mentions on Google Scholar

Year quantified self self tracking life logging human enhancement
1980 2,780 3,770 30,300 10,300
1985 3,460 4,660 7.830 15,900
1990 7,340 9,440 50,300 32,600
1995 12,300 18,500 13,400 65,700
2000 23,300 38,500 56,600 138,000
2002 30,500 54,000 28,100 153,000
2004 41,700 68,500 33,200 182,000
2006 56,000 88,000 39,700 212,000
2008 69,900 109,000 48,600 233,000
2010 86,500 131,000 76,500 250,000
2012 99,800 153,000 106,000 287,000
2014 99,500 162,000 99,100 276,000
2016 85,900 151,000 91,000 220,000
2017 80,400 147,000 83,200 184,000
2018 67,300 126,000 73,800 147,000
2019 51,300 97,200 59,300 109,000
2020 36,300 75,400 43,300 78,400
Quantified self.png

Google Trends

The comparative chart below shows Google Trends data for self-tracking (Search term), lifelogging (Search term) and quantified self (Search term), from January 2004 to July 2021, when the screenshot was taken. Interest is also ranked by country and displayed on world map. [93]

Self-tracking, lifelogging and quantified self gt.png

Google Ngram Viewer

The comparative chart below shows Google Ngram Viewer data for self-tracking, lifelogging and quantified self from 1900 to 2019. [94]

Self-tracking, lifelogging and quantified self ngram.png

Wikipedia Views

The chart below shows pageviews of the English Wikipedia article Quantified self, from July 2015 to June 2021.[95]

Quantified self WV.png

Meta information on the timeline

How the timeline was built

The initial version of the timeline was written by User:Sebastian.

Funding information for this timeline is available.

Feedback and comments

Feedback for the timeline can be provided at the following places:


What the timeline is still missing

Timeline update strategy

See also

External links


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