Imagining the Possibilities

Imagine starting your morning with your smart home assistant gently informing you to take it a little easier over the coming days. It suggests this because it detected an emerging acute cough and reminds you that during this same period of seasonal change over the past five years, you have tended towards multiple days with coughing and or bronchitis. Imagine how in the busyness of everyday, this small nugget of timely information helps you adjust and avert a more serious bronchitis, for example.

Looking ahead a few years, imagine smart sensors spread throughout the home, maybe embedded in the walls. These sensors casually record observations regarding your family’s growth, health and happpiness. They observe coughs and colds, stress or excitement, and other aspects you control. You do this because the data collected by these sensors feeds analytical processes to deliver highly personalized and timely well-being insights.

Recent advances in cloud computing, machine learning and the emerging discipline of Data Science are enabling these unprecedented opportunities, and allowing us to rethink how we nurture, encourage and care for the members of our family.  

My Data Principles

In my still early journey practicing family data science, I’ve come to understand a few key areas where data can help a lot, and also other areas where data won’t help any.

First, it doesn’t really make sense to try and quantify creative endeavors, for example – hours spent at dance class. At the end of the day, passion and motivation will determine how much of these activities my family engages in (and how often!)

The same applies to long-term plans – I don’t believe  i will quantify my way towards achieving the big moonshots / BHAGs in life.  I do believe theses types of goals should be articulated, and maybe even journaled in the process of attaining them, but that’s about it from a quantification standpoint.

Instead, I think it is better to measure those things where I am confident that conformance to a set standard or level can help determine personal growth, health and/or happiness.  Examples of this include tracking sleep, nutrition, health or cash flow.