How I’ve Become a Human Lab Rat in the Name of Tech

Ah, the good old days when you plugged in a laptop, booted up a few apps and wrote a review. My life has become damn scary these days as most of the products I look at are actually looking at me. My body fat, my sleep habits, my steps per day, my brain age, my body age, even my blood composition. All being scrutinized.

The new tech paradox? The only way I can review these products is to review myself. (A narcissist’s delight.)

Let’s take yesterday’s adventures for example. So psyched to get the Skulpt AIM device, it’s a cool mobile phone sized device that reports on your body fat and muscle quality. Using electrical impedance the device sends a low current through your muscle groups (triceps, biceps, hamstrings, belly, chest for example) and gives you a numerical score that gets transmitted to your mobile phone. I work out every day and for my age consider myself to be in pretty good shape. Skulpt did not think so. My muscle quality was average and my fat was — well, never mind.


So I called the company to verify what I was seeing — years of gym work and only average? I learned a couple of important things about testing muscle and fat. Do it at the same time every day as water in your body may create some variability in measurements. Make sure you spray every single conductor (a grid on the back of the unit) with water before taking a reading as which t can affect the readout, too. And the algorithm used, while it does take your sex (male or female) it’s age-blind. I guess I should the buff of a 20 year old, but that ain’t happening. As more people use the device the data, I expect will get more personalized and accurate.

Later that day I tried out SAM – Sam stands for Sustained Acoustic Medicine. It uses ultrasound the way your physical therapist might but it’s so portable that you can walk around with it on. Ultrasound’s benefits to muscle and tissues have been well documented, but now instead of 15 minutes of a PT’s valuable time with you, you can take care of the ultrasound on your own. This must have doctor’s prescription and costs $3,400 but it’s an FDA approved device and is starting to be reimbursable through insurance carriers. I had to document my many aches and injuries to a stranger and the biggest debate I had with the product was where to use it first. It really does feel good.

A few weeks ago I had my blood work done by a consumer based biomarker tracking company, Inside Tracker. They work with many performance athletes. I had to publicly own up to a shortage of Vitamin D and a slightly high corticol level. And then there was the sleep experiment where I donned all sorts of gear from Sleepace’s RestOn to my favorite, the Sleep Shepard. Now the world knows I’m an insomniac too.

I’ve trained my brain with NeuroSky and trained my breath with EmHealth. What’s next? My personal brain surgery or DIY root canal? But if someone asked me to test it, I know I would.