Quantified Self conference launching in Boston

The Fitbit Force is displayed at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas on January 7, 2014 (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The Fitbit Force is displayed at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas on January 7, 2014 (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Last week, in my piece outlining how RunKeeper could become the startup synonymous with Boston, I suggested one way the startup could make a bigger splash in the city and beyond — hosting or leading a quantified self/health tech conference.

Come to find out, someone already thought up an East Coast quantified self conference set to be held in Boston’s Innovation District this spring.

Cort Johnson of Terrible Labs and Smith Anderson of Silicon Valley Bank have been working together for months on the first Quantified Self Summit, being held at District Hall on April 3.

What is quantified self? It is a movement and a technology trend that relies on sensors and other hardware (such as Fitbit’s Flex and the Withings Scale) combined with food tracking, health monitoring, and other body-focused data analysis, to build a data-driven picture of health and improve overall well-being and human performance.

Johnson and Anderson had previously joined forces for an event last summer, and, each having a personal interest in quantified self (Johnson described Anderson as a “big time ironman guy” and himself as “just a struggling athlete”), they decided to build an event centered on key people in the space and on some “high-quality” conversations among quantified self thought leaders.

As Johnson said of the interest in quantified self, Terrible Labs has “had a good chunk of clients who are focused on the quantified self space and we’ve been working with them to build a lot of different products.”

“It’s obviously something that affects all of us on a daily basis,” he added. “We wear all the Jawbones, we use and are friends with the RunKeeper guys, and MeYouHealth is a big company here in Boston. We thought that there is nothing going on around [quantified self], so we thought it was a great topic where we could not only get people here in Boston involved, but it’s also a good opportunity to get a lot of people outside the New England echo chamber to come in to talk and participate in an event like this.”

Anderson said that some of his connections with Silicon Valley Bank helped to get the best people in the industry involved in the first time event.

“We got confirmation this morning that Robin Thurston from MapMyFitness (which was acquired by Under Armour) is going to come and sit on one of our panels,” he said. “So we’ll have the founder of MapMyFitness and the founder of FitnessKeeper sitting in a room talking about quantified self.”

The event is a free, but is “invite only.” Anyone interested in attending should sign up for the Quantified Self Summit at the conference’s website. Johnson said that they will send out invitations to members of the quantified self community that connect through the website as long as there is space available.

“This event isn’t just about wearables or the software,” Anderson said. “We are looking at the connected human and the entire data set  to learn more about who we are, what we are doing with this data, and where [quantified self] has been and where it is going.”

He added, “We are looking to provide a great, high level experience for people who have interest or expertise in the space … We are starting with the highest quality that we can and we think this is a tremendous opportunity.”

Quantified self as a movement is only getting bigger (especially with Apple’s Health Book announcement yesterday), and to be at the forefront of the discussion on quantified self is not only a huge opportunity for local startups, but also for Boston.

Dennis Keohane was a Senior Staff Writer for BetaBoston.
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