by DAWN NAFUS, Intel Corporation
*Join Dawn Nafus on September 1 when she hosts Ethnography & Quantified Self at EPIC2016.
A few years ago, a colleague had asked me about the adoptability of biosensors—a rapidly evolving category of sensors that detect an ever-expanding array of stuff about the body or the environment. Water quality, air quality, hormones, temperature, microbiomes are increasingly possible to measure with consumer-grade devices and services. He had seen how medical sensing technologies had become smaller and cheaper, increasingly reworked into consumer devices for use outside of clinical settings. How much appetite would there be for an expanded reperotoire of data in ordinary people’s hands? Is that appetite really a consumer one, or one that was more likely to come into play in institutional contexts like biomedical research or technology-delivered healthcare?
These were complicated social and cultural questions, made even more complicated by the fact that, at the time, there were really only limited...