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Are we going to micromanage our bodies to death?

I was at the Consumer Electronic Show last week and, needless to say, I have several weeks of material coming!  Let’s start with a trend that I think has both positive and negative connotations: iHealth!

iHealth is the term that is being applied to the proliferation of gadgets that are coming to the market to help us “manage our health.”  Remember the old fashioned pedometer?  That is so 20th Century!  Now, we want devices to monitor every aspect of our health, from how many calories we burn while we walk or play during the day to how well we sleep at night. The company Fitbit was a pioneer is this area, creating a small activity monitor that you carried in your pocket or clipped to your belt which tracks the steps we take, the stairs we climb and the exercise we do.  Since then, dozens of companies have jumped into the game, creating competing devices that pretty much do the same thing but offer some slight variation on the theme.

The idea of monitoring your health has taken off, however, and the latest devices now can monitor your heartbeat, your blood pressure as well as all sorts of vital information.  Not only can you track all these wonderful metrics, you can now share that information through social media so you can compare your results with your friends and families. In fact, one of the most interesting aspects of these devices is that they are connected to the Internet and that the ability to share and compare appeals to a certain demographic.  Speaking of demographics, you have to ask yourself, who buys this stuff? There are no statistics available to validate this, but base on online postings, a significant portion of the people who buy these things belong to the baby boomer generation, that is people who are fighting against the ravages of time and refuse to get old; anything they can do to feel or look younger and hold back aging is worth the money!

This idea of monitoring your health and physical activity isn’t limited to your own body, however. A whole new group of devices are being developed that help you track your childs activities and health, taking the concept of helicopter parenting to a completely new level.  I can just see mom telling little Jimmy or Janie that they only get to eat a cookie if they’ve burned off 2000 calories before dinner!  And it’s not just kids!  Even pets are being targeted as marketers realize that fewer children are being born and more couples are adopting pets instead.  For example, one company – FitPet – created a gadget that monitors your pet’s activities to make sure they stay active and healthy.

Are we going overboard?  Are we Americans?!? Of course!  We’ve never met a trend that we couldn’t take to the extreme.  That begs the question: are these fitness devices something that’s here to stay or just another fad like the pet rock that we’ll look back on fondly and chuckle sometime in the future.  Only time will tell!

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