Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tonic & The Quantified Self

The Quantified Self is a group of people interested in self tracking — gathering and analyzing data about their own lives to see what they might learn, and possibly discover opportunities to improve their lives. They often carry out simple experiments, modifying some small aspect of their lives (e.g. changing what they eat for breakfast, or trying a new exercise) to see what impact this has (for example on their hunger, or sense of well-being, or wakefulness). It turns out that one of the hardest part of learning from such experiments is actually being able to do them, remembering to do the action(s) and record the outcome(s).

At a QS meetup in San Francisco in late March, I spoke about about this difficulty and how Tonic has made self-experimentation easier, based on the experiences of Tonic beta users — VIDEO.

To learn more about QS and meet people actively engaged in self experimentation, come to our first conference: Quantified Self Conference 2011, May 28-29, Mountain View, CA.

Here are my slides & talking points:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Launching Tonic

Tonic is now available on the AppStore.  Finally! Yeah!
It's been many months of hard work.

Tonic's genesis was a combination of excitement and frustration due to "Health Innovation Week" in San Francisco in October 2010. That week there were a slew of major conferences and smaller events on health & technology. It was exciting to see how many people were doing something. It was also frustrating to note that none of the products and projects addressed what I felt were fundamental needs of people trying to take care of their own health. The ideas generated by my previous company, Zume Life, and described in papers I had written and talks I had given were apparently not taking root. In a burst of fevered inspiration (grounded by many years of focus on the issue), I sketched a product concept that seemed surprisingly good, and certainly much better than anything else I had seen.

My friend, and soon-to-be development partner, Aleksey Novicov, looked over my sketches with a critical eye — as a developer, designer, and user. He questioned everything ... but soon enough agreed that this was worth doing ... and significantly improved the design.

By February 2011 we were ready for beta users. We wanted a wide range of users, people with dramatically different health situations. It was trial-by-fire: Tonic is supposed to work for any health condition, even in beta.  Through friends and colleagues we found a dozen people, some with serious chronic conditions (cancer, cystic fibrosis, parkinson's disease, etc.), some relatively healthy with "wellness" practices, and some who provide care for others with chronic conditions. They liked it! Tonic worked for them, as you can see in the testimonials on the Tonic website. And, of course, we found lots of bugs (that have been fixed) and many requests for additional features (which will be added over time).

And now you too can get Tonic, and take better care of yourself.

Here's how we think of Tonic:

Tonic is the first and only app that fully supports you in your self care efforts. It’s elegant simplicity is deceptively flexible and powerful, and well attuned to the messy complexity of real-world, day-to-day health.
Tonic starts with a blank slate, ready to support you in carrying out your personal health practice. Tonic doesn’t prescribe, but instead helps you do better whatever you are already doing. You set the agenda—perhaps advised by your doctors, family and friends—while Tonic helps you remember, track and organize.
Every one of us lives a rich, complex, multifaceted and ever-changing life. Tonic supports you whatever your health situation (from one or many chronic diseases to temporary illnesses and wellness efforts) and whatever your health practice (the latest Western medication regimens or the most ancient healing practices or any combination). Tonic provides this flexibility in a simple, elegant design.
Use Tonic to make life easier, gain control over your health, and better understand yourself.
I'll expand on the key points — supporting (not telling) the user; complexity of health; and learning about one's own health — in future posts.