What it is: “Hacking Happiness” is a book about measuring happiness using passive sensors such as wearable computers.
In the past, nations measured progress by their Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which represents the total dollar value of all goods and services produced over a specific time period. Unfortunately measuring progress by growth and money is only one way to measure progress and a poor one at that. When you measure progress by profits, then the tendency is to focus solely on profits at the expense of anything else such as protecting the environment, worker safety, or community relations.
It’s obvious that focusing solely on money is a poor way to measure any nation’s progress. After all, if a country enslaved its entire population, they could cut labor costs and boost productivity. That’s why there’s a new way to measure progress on both a national and personal level and that’s by measuring happiness.
In the book “Hacking Happiness” the author John. C. Havens suggests that today’s passive sensors such as the Apple Watch and even apps on smartphones can measure a person’s mood during each day. By detecting changes in blood pressure and heart rate, passive sensors can provide objective data to a person’s mood. Then by studying such data collected passively, you could better analyze how your day went, what times and situations changed your mood, and then work to actively create better situations for yourself while avoiding situations that depress you or anger you.
The key to measuring happiness relies on passive sensors. In the past researchers had to rely on surveys but that data is more subjective as the person knows they’re being asked about their moods and the person answering questions can often exaggerate their answers. With passive sensors, the test subject often forgets that they’re being monitored so the data is far more objective and accurate.
Now collect all this data from different people, such as those in a single city, and you can see whether people in one location might undergo more stress than people in another city. With such objective data, you can also determine when people feel most stressed out and even where using GPS coordinates. The key to measuring emotional moods depends on passive sensors like the Apple Watch.
So the next time someone tells you that they see no need for the Apple Watch or any other type of wearable computer, it’s far morel likely that these people simply lack the imagination to see beyond their immediately world. In the same way that people once asked what’s the purpose of mobile phones, landline phones, or telegrams, there will always be short-sighted people who can’t understand possible uses for new technology.
Such short-sighted people are only comfortable with incremental improvement, such as faster processors or smaller devices, but such incremental improvements never lead to innovation. If everyone clung only to incremental improvements, we’d all be riding faster horses.
The Apple Watch’s potential is greater than its drawbacks in the same way that the iPad’s potential was greater than its drawbacks. We all know critics who dismissed the iPad, only to watch it decimate the PC market. Now you can see the Apple Watch defining the wearable computer market and using its passive sensors to store data that researchers could never obtain accurately through other methods.
When technology can do something better and more accurately than previous technology, that’s its real purpose. You just have to open your eyes and see how it will change the world. With the iPhone and iPad, the most popular apps were games. With the Apple Watch, the most popular apps will be the ones that passively detect a person’s physical changes. health-related apps are the Apple Watch’s killer feature that will only become more apparent over time.
By using passive sensors such as those found in the Apple Watch, you can see where the future of wearable computers really will go.