"I'm the most connected man in the world to myself. I'm not the most connected man in the world to technology. Technology was the route.”
Chris Dancy is an incredibly well-connected guy … via the Internet of Things … and wearable technology has changed his life. He has lost 100 pounds and stopped smoking. He understands better how certain people, environments, and experiences affect his state of mind and his physical health. Through this fascinating interview (see the complete Mashable interview here), take a look at your potential future:
"Chris Dancy, the self-described 'most connected guy in the world,' reclines in a throne in the corner of his home office….
"He has been thrown into the spotlight for using between 300 and 700 tracking and lifelogging systems at all times, from the fitness wristband Fitbit to the Beddit mattress cover.
"But then the conversation shifts to his childhood, a time when Dancy (now 45) and his family struggled to make ends meet. While describing his mother's role in helping them through a difficult time, he closes his eyes and cuts himself off. The lights in the room have started to flicker. It's the only moment all day where you can hear a pin drop.
"The blinking lights are a visual reminder for Dancy to slow down and focus on his breathing. The lights, like so many aspects of his unassuming, cozy home, are connected to the devices he wears; in this case, they sense his heart rate is up and signal it's time for him to calm down. Similarly, classical music plays throughout the house if he loses his temper.
"Dancy is the future tech experts say is coming.
"By looking at his data, he's learned exactly what he needs to be his most productive self, such as setting the lights to a specific shade or programming the air levels in his bedroom so he can sleep soundly….
"Dancy is the ultimate example of two revolutions underway in tech: the Internet of Things (smart thermostats, garage doors, toothbrushes, tennis racquets) and quantified self (what you learn about yourself from trackers)….
"'Everyone wants to know if they will be like me in the future, but everyone is already like me; they just don't think about it like that,' he says. 'Your phone is already collecting information about you and your life. If you use a credit card or a car GPS system, you're already being tracked. But that's Big Brother. When you take control of it yourself, that's Big Mother, and that relationship is nurturing, kind and not controlling’….
"Halfway through spending the day with Dancy, I realize he's not only tracking data about himself, but he's reading me, too. By looking at apps on his Google Glass specs, he calls me out for shifting my body weight throughout our interview (a posture ailment that happens when I carry my too-heavy laptop bag on business trips). Can he also tell I'm starving and haven't eaten all day? I start to worry if he can read my mind.
"'It's hard not to look at you and see piles of data,' he tells me….
"Five years ago, Dancy smoked two packs of cigarettes per day, guzzled between 20 and 30 cans of Diet Coke daily and drank alcohol routinely on weekends. 'I loved to have a good time, and my body showed it,' he says. 'But I wanted to understand what was happening.'
"His yearning to learn more about why he was as heavy as he was ignited a passion for monitoring every aspect about his life.
"When he started to track his habits, he looked closely at the days when his calorie intake was lower. "[It] often had to do with who I was with, who I interacted with (even in email) and where I was (home versus restaurants). The data showed I eat faster in restaurants with brighter lights."
"Dancy started to avoid eating with certain people, and he put filters on emails. He lost 30 pounds just by removing triggers that affected him. Then, he made a rule to only look at social media or data if he was walking. His posture belt vibrates after 40 minutes, so he started to stand more often. He says, 'If I sat for too long, the lights would come on or music would start to play. All of this helped.'
"He started to record what he posted on Facebook, looked for patterns in his finances and analyzed activities like going to the movies. He noted if they influenced other areas of his life, like whether his mood at work was better on Mondays if he'd seen a film the day before. Foursquare helped there, too…
"It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by Dancy’s extreme approach to data. I'm sure he could show me on a color-coded chart which parts of our conversation made me feel uneasy throughout the day. On one hand, his journey is inspirational, enlightening and motivating. With rarely a tracker on my body (or at most one or two at a time), I started to question if I was missing out on unleashing my own vault of data. I don't know which lighting I work most efficiently in — a tidbit that would surely help me write articles faster on deadline — or which air levels will help me fall asleep quickly and get eight blissful hours each night.
"On the other hand, his story terrifies me. Is a truly aware and connected life one that will make us isolated in a pool of our own data?
"Regardless, Dancy is unquestionably brave, and sharing the details of his journey is even braver. And his vision for the future if undeniably brilliant.
"'I think [companies] will have applications for the home and body,' he predicts. 'Instead of computers and iPhones, you will be the interface. Life should just happen, and we'll eventually get back to that point.'
"But perhaps most fascinating is that a life like Dancy's is possible. He's a normal, well-adjusted, intelligent guy who's taken unmatched measures to track and learn everything he can about himself.
"He could be any of us, really, but we're not quite there yet."