Biometrics on course to put the 'me' into media

Melanie Howard
Future Foundation

In the age of the 'quantified self', in which it is possible to integrate the manifold data produced by our Facebook posts, emails, GPS and fitness logs, purchases, preferences and so on, we're beginning to get used to the idea that our data can be useful to us. Consumers are being persuaded that collecting and studying the hundreds of data points that trail behind us will help us to make personal changes to lead longer, healthier, perhaps happier lives. And companies are clearly convinced, too: Eli Lilly now claims this is its central scenario for pharmaceutical innovation over the coming decade. Biometric media means this benign fusion of person and machine will be moving to a new level – going beyond the useful to create new reflections of ourselves in the media we consume.

At the Future Foundation, we call this trend BioMEtrics. Our heart rate, attention levels, eye movements, brainwaves, stress levels and more can be picked up by embedded sensors in smartphones, wristbands and motion-capture cameras and used to create algorithmically perfected, visceral and truly individual media moments. In return, we will be treated to content that responds to – which is made by – the once mundane rhythms of the body.