Monetize me

Monetize me

Privacy and the Quantified Self in the Digital Economy
Blaine Price, EPSRC Grant EP/L021285/1


Proposed Research

Until recently the practice of lifelogging – the digital recording, analysis and sharing of information about the lived experience, or ‘lifestream’ – was the preserve of academics, athletes, medical professionals and the technical pioneers in the ‘self quantification’ movement.   The financial cost and effort involved in the collection and analysis of data prohibited its diffusion to the mass market. The recent emergence of several mass market products, such as the FitBit [5], numerous smartphone apps for lifelogging suggests that lifelogging technologies have entered the mainstream market. With the widespread availability of ubiquitous computing technology such as smartphones and cheap, dedicated sensors, participation in lifelogging has increased[1]. Users can track anything from their sleep patterns, heart rate and calorie intake to their use of time and the characteristics of their ambient environment. The domains where lifelogging features are also expanding. Nissan recently announced a biometric watch which ultimately aims to ‘spot fatigue, monitor drivers' levels of concentration and emotions and record hydration levels.’[8]
Lifelogging offers a range of benefits to the individual and to business organizations.  A better understanding one’s health, fitness, wellbeing, working patterns, financial and other resources can be empowering and can offer opportunities for self improvement. It is now even possible for individuals to make money out of their ‘digital exhaust’ [9] using apps such as ‘AchieveMint’[10]. There are also huge opportunities for app developers, data warehouses and other (often small) [11] companies to offer services based on the sharing and analysis of lifelogging data. In the world of lifelogging, monetization can become the goal of the app developer and the lifelogger.  However, a number of questions remain about how the mutual benefits of lifelogging can be realized. The first concerns privacy. Lifelogging entails the sharing and analysis of high volumes of deeply sensitive personal data on a real time basis. It raises significant privacy concerns because of the profound level of detail about the individual it reveals.  Such detail would be highly valuable as marketing insight and highly damaging to the human rights of the individual if it was shared with unauthorised third parties.  Given such concerns, a second question arises concerning how businesses may financially exploit the benefits of lifelogging in a manner that does not compromise the privacy of participants. In short, how might privacy-friendly business models be created and how might users be empowered to manage the privacy of their lifelogging data in effective and appropriate ways?  Accordingly, this project has three objectives:
  1. to understand the different types of lifelogger which exist in the mass market and distil their privacy requirements
  2. to develop privacy friendly business models for those offering lifelogging services
  3. to develop a privacy management infrastructure for users of those services

Research Hypotheses

The project aims to answer the following questions:
  1. Which lifelogging domains are likely to be relevant for mainstream consumers?
  2. Can different types of lifelogger be identified in the mainstream?
  3. What are the functional and privacy requirements of users and how can new business models for sharing and processing lifelogging data incorporate those requirements?
  4. How can we build data infrastructures that allow the combining of data from disparate lifelogging data providers while managing the tension between the privacy and sharing requirements of users?
  5. Can new business models supporting the sharing and re-processing of lifelogging data compete using privacy as a central value proposition?


[1]             B. A. Price, “Towards Privacy Preserving Lifelogging,” in Proc. of 2nd Annual Sensecam Symposium, Dublin, 2010, pp. 39–40.
[2]             ENISA, “To log or not to log? - Risks and benefits of emerging life-logging applications,” ENISA Report, Nov. 2011.
[3]             “The Virtual Revolution,” BBC 2, 2010.
[4]             O. Bootle, “BBC Horizon: Monitor Me,” BBC 2 TV, 12-Aug-2013.
[5]             “Fitbit,” 2013. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 23-Jun-2013].
[6]             “Google Glass - Home.” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 23-Jun-2013].
[7]             J. Koetsier, “Pro sports first: Tennis player to wear Google Glass at Wimbledon this week,”
[8]             BBC News, “Nissan launches Nismo smartwatch for drivers,” 2013. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 10-Sep-2013].
[9]             A. Mahdawi, “Your body isn’t a temple, it’s a data factory emitting digital exhaust,”, 25-Jan-2013.
[10]          V. Ramachandran, “AchieveMint Gives You Cash for Doing Healthy Activities,” Mashable, 03-Aug-2013. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 10-Sep-2013].
[11]          “Application Developers Alliance,” 2013. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 10-Sep-2013].