This nifty little gadget is my latest toy. It's a Fitbit, and it is part of the battle against my ever-diminishing levels of fitness (and my ever increasing waist-line). Arthur C Clarke gave three laws of prediction. The third law is the most often quoted, and states: any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Well, here we go. This piece of tech, to me, is magic. It knows how far I've walked, it knows how many stairs (or mountains) I've climbed, and it tracks my heart rate, all the time, 24/7. Whenever I open my laptop it's there, waiting for me, a dashboard with the up-to-date stats on my well-being: how many calories I've burnt, how many I've consumed, how far I've walked and in how many steps. There's a nice coloured graph showing how my heart is performing. It's just like having the NASA surgeon (one of the key control positions in mission control with all the bio telemetry) tracking my every move. This morning it told me that I'd had a good night's sleep, that I'd slept for 8 hrs and 19 mins, and that I got up once in the night, at 2 AM, to pee. (Well, it didn't exactly tell me about the peeing, I knew that much already.) It told me when I'd been restless, though, and what my resting heart rate was compared to yesterday. My heart graph for today shows the time when I stopped walking (in the tea shop) and exactly when I started to climb the little Orme, and how much I'd had to work to get up to the top.
It seems only a small step to when it will be able to monitor when a person's heart begins to misbehave and send out an ambulance to meet them before they even know they're in trouble themselves - because yes, the more expensive models already have GPS. (I didn't go for the GPS version because I have GPS in my phone and my laptop and, you know, I can still manage to read a map and road signs so long as I have my specs.)
I guess there's a danger I could become obsessed. All those stats and graphs - I love stats. I'm also noticing that my resting heart rate is changing each day and I'm worrying about the days when it's higher, so I suppose it could make a techno-hypocondriac freak out of me. Is that the next thing, a device you wear in your bobble hat to monitor mental health on a minute by minute basis? Yeah, I could do with that. "Attention, Mjke! You are worrying and depressed that you haven't sold any copies of Travelling in a Box today. Get over it!"