Running pace graph via Garmin Connect

Connected Watches and Psychological Profiles

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Connected watches know everything about us. In theory they listen to us 24 hours a day for years in a row. My Apple watch has been on my wrist for over four years, every single day. It has been for swims, runs, rock climbing, via ferrata, office work and more. 

The watch knows how much I walk, when I get up, when I go to sleep, how well I wash my hands, how exposed I am to noise and much more. It also knows whether I am moving energetically or lazily. It knows if I am walking faster or slower. It also knows how rested or stressed I am, by looking at heart rate variability. 

Some people will look at the two paragraphs above and think “I don’t want this”. 

The Suunto, Garmin, Casio and other brands I have used measure walking, sleeping, and more but not in the way that Apple does. Apple theoretically knows a lot more for two key reasons. The first is that the Apple universe includes your laptop, your phone, your watch, your tablet and your keys and other possessions. Apple has access to almost every aspect of our lives. 

I bring this up, not because of a sense of paranoia, but simply because there is an article about this on the RTS website after some uni students wanted to know more. They asked people hundreds of questions to get a profile. They then tried to correlate that data with watch data to see if the watch could help establish mental health via a watch. They don’t say anything about brand. 

What makes this report especially interesting is that these are conclusions from fitness trackers, rather than high end smart watches. 

Some things are obvious. People who go out on a friday night are considered extroverted, people who sleep little and move more regularly are considered nervous and more. This is nothing that we wouldn’t expect to hear. 

If we look at the bigger picture, at big data, then this could be interesting. By tracking enough people over time it could be determined whether people are becoming happier, sadder, more nervous, less nervous, about to commit suicide and more. There are reports of how connected devices showed signs that someone was beginning to fall sick, with COVID, or other diseases. 

Steps, sleep and heart rate are just the tip of the iceberg. Most watches collect more than this so they know more. 

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