The author of a recent New York Times article describes how a host of new companies are using innovative technologies like big data analytics to collect and analyze big data to learn more about us – a lot more.
While the concept of companies trying to peer into our lives to gain competitive advantages is not unheard of, what is unique about the companies in Quentin Hardy’s article, Big Data in Your Blood, is that they’re collecting data from within us. They’re bypassing our conscious responses and gathering physiological data directly from the body itself. And they’re using big data analytics to make sense of that information.
Companies like MC10 and Proteus are using both “wearable” technologies and digestible microchips to gather and analyze information about processes like brain activity and hydration levels that they intend to use for noble causes like lowering costs and increasing levels of care, Hardy notes.
Others, like Sano Intelligence, plan to use these wearable devices to “capture and transmit” blood chemistry information continuously to an analysis platform they call the API for the bloodstream.
The list of companies exploring new ways to use you and your data goes on and on with names like 23andme, MassiveHealth, and RockHealth. This convergence of biotechnology and bioinformatics is producing a shift in the way companies gather and analyze data as well as what they can learn from that data.
To quote a technology pioneer: “I think the biggest innovations of the 21st century will be at the intersection of biology and technology. A new era is beginning.” – Steve Jobs
At the core of this new era, is the gathering of massive amounts of data and correlating it with other sources to produce new insights. This is where big data and big data analytics come in. Now entering adolescence, big data is growing into a catalyst for change on a global scale with, seemingly, limitless possibilities.
Some, like Linda Avey, formerly of 23AndMe, have a sense of enthusiasm that this approach can lead to a new kind of medical research where information is shared like code in the open source software community, Hardy says. However, if you’re the kind of person who gets concerned about the iPhone location tracking capabilities, this type of information gathering is enough to, ironically, make your heart race.
Still, while the debate rages on around how individual physiological data can be legally and ethically used, one thing is clear – creative and innovative minds are applying new technologies in biotechnology to analyze big data and make what they hope are more accurate conclusions and predictions about health, disease and medicine.