In a recent article in the New York Times about Intel's resident social scientist (see: Intel’s Sharp-Eyed Social Scientist), mention was made of hyperpersonal technology with regard to fitness trackers and voice recognition apps. I had never heard this term used before but it struck me as useful. Think about the term personal computer (PC) that has been used for decades. It was originally coined to distinguish between large-scale office and corporate computers and the smaller devices owned and used by individuals. PCs provide personal computing services to individuals. Hyperpersonal technology draws a distinction between apps that support communication between individuals such as voice calls and email and those that are focused entirely on individuals. The various health apps running on smart phones are perfect examples. I have discussed health apps in detail in previous notes (see: FDA Gearing Up to Regulate Smartphone Apps and Social Media? Or Not?; The iPhone Effect: Smartphones and Their App Ecosystems Have Changed Everything; Smartphone Otoscope: Diagnosing Middle Ear Disease at Home?; FDA Begins to Regulate Smartphone Health Apps).
There is probably nothing more hyperpersonal than the management of one's own health. Medical apps running on smartphones are going to have a major effect on healthcare in the U.S. I know that inexpensive home devices such as glucometers and blood pressure monitoring devices have been available for many years. However, the linkage between such devices and smartphones, functioning as small computers, is going to be a major step forward (see: Healthcare in Developing Countries; Relationship to Smartphone Apps and Devices). Knowing one's blood pressure or blood glucose is important but combining these devices with a smartphone makes the data that is generated actionable. Such data can also be uploaded to healthcare providers for monitoring over time or to alert them if there is an emergency. Connecting a fitness armband to a smartphone can provide a fitness plan for the individual and assess progress. Health apps can also provide suggestions about the diagnosis of various ailments and when it is necessary to seek urgent care.