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My wife bought an Android and lost 5 pounds

by Hu Yoshida on Apr 27, 2011

When I tell people this they have visions of my wife doing exercises with her android phone. In this brave new world, she can do this without breaking a sweat. She did this by downloading an app that helped her count the calories on her plate before every meal. By watching her calorie intake she was able to lose weight. There was a down side to this. When the count exceeded a certain amount she would transfer it to my plate and so I gained an extra 5 pounds. This is the power of smart phones and the apps that can change our lives.

htc AndroidThe other day I had lunch with Clive Lane, the IT Director at SuperMedia, who is also an avid runner. He has down loaded an app that links to his GPS and tracks where he goes on his daily 7 mile runs. After his run he can log on to a site and see his route on a map and the time it took. This app also has a feature where he can friend someone else and compare their runs.

This is a lot of information that is being stored in our smart phones, but it is just a drop in the bucket compared to the increasing storage capacities of our phones.  At SNW a few weeks ago, one of the speakers asked the audience how many people had a TB at home, and a large number of the audience raised their hands. In a few years the question may be how many in the audience have a TB in their phone.

One of the laws of storage is that data will always fill the available capacity. The question is how much of that data needs to be stored in a shared environment like a data center or a cloud. There is a downside.

A big item in the news this last week was fact that smart phones had tracking files that store the location of cell phone towers and Wi-Fi access points that the phone has interacted with.  Experts can also harvest call records and search results from our phones. Now consumer groups are asking how much of this data is being stored so that others can track our private lives.

In my opinion, the data about my wife’s diet is her private data and is not intended to be shared. There may be value in tracking that data for her health care provider, but she should decide on who should see it. That data does not need to be stored anywhere except on her phone.

The analysts are projecting the exploding growth of data, but not all of that data needs to be stored outside of our home or personal smart devices.

What are your thoughts on the need to store data outside of your control?

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Comments (5 )

Mariano Maluf on 28 Apr 2011 at 10:58 am

Very interesting article, and a good perspective on the ever-growing nature of data, as both our capacity to capture/store and and analyze data continue to grow exponentially.

In the case of how much personal data should be stored outside of individual devices, I think there’s a case to be made depending on the nature of the data and the ultimate purpose that sharing it would serve.

Aggregated, de-identified data can be a powerful force to find patterns, create awareness and ultimately have a direct, real impact in areas such as healthcare management, disease control and new drug or therapy research.

Hu Yoshida on 28 Apr 2011 at 4:03 pm

Thank you Mariano for your thoughts. The aggregated, de-identified data is an interesting thought. I agree it can be a powerful force. If the App that my wife is using could de-identify and aggregate the data about what all its app users are eating it could help to better mankind if used by healthcare providers or it could be used for crass commercial purposes. De-identifying may give my wife privacy, but the power comes from the aggregation of her data with the data of others. Who should have ownership or responsibility for that data?

Mariano Maluf on 28 Apr 2011 at 10:38 pm

Certainly a very important question. There are examples out there in which the user/owner is ultimately responsible for the information, but freely elects to participate in a system that processes the data, ensuring that is de-identified and appropriately categorized for future use.
The concept of a user portal, as an entry point to a more comprehensive health-oriented ecosystem, could very well fit that model, and data privacy would be ensured via opt-in and granular controls. (what data elements can be shared)

Hu Yoshida on 29 Apr 2011 at 2:59 pm

Hello Mariano, thanks again. I appreciate your deep insights from your cloud perspective at GNAX. Hope to hear from you again in the future.

Bob Olwig on 30 Apr 2011 at 7:54 am

Hu, interesting post highlighting a area that is exploding: user generated data both structured, as in the case of your wife’s calorie counter app, and unstructured, including the millions of videos created, manipulated, sent and stored everyday.

In either case, we need to value and protect the user’s privacy and create frameworks where users can opt-in our out to share their data.

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