Discovery Vitality already offers its members Vitality points in exchange for sharing their fitness data from a range of fitness-tracking apps and devices. Now it’s added Samsung’s new S Health 4.0 app that’s available on the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge handsets (and no doubt on the rumoured, forthcoming Note 5 and S6 Edge Plus devices) and that can also collect data from Samsung’s Gear range of wearables.
In order to earn Vitality Points, users need to download the Discovery app for Android or iOS and link it to their S Health app. Users that log between 5,000 and 7,499 steps a day earn 50 Vitality points in the process, those who log between 7,500 and 9,999 steps a day earns 100 Vitality points, 10,000 to 12,499 steps a day earns 150 Vitality points, and those who manage over 12,500 steps a day (or attach their phone or smartwatch to a paint shaker or an exuberant pooch) will earn 200 Vitality points.
Discovery also gives points for certain real world activities, like participating in any of the numerous 5km Parkrun events that happen in major cities every Saturday, which explains the enormous uptick in participants at our local one.
Here at Stuff Towers we’re all in favour of additional motivation to exercise — we need all the motivation we can get. Most of us wear Fitbits, Jawbone UPs, Garmin Vivowhatnots or other trackers, and we chastise each other for not taking the stairs, but we can’t help but entertain our contrarian side and wonder what happens when insurers, medical aids or other service providers make it make it compulsory to not only track your activity, but share that information with them?
“Compulsory” may not mean that you won’t get insurance if you don’t consent to sharing fitness info, but it could mean substantially higher premiums, which equates to almost the same thing. And what happens when trackers can monitor other things like blood-sugar (or alcohol) levels, blood pressure and the like?
It’s one thing to separate your healthy shopping from your unhealthy so Vitality doesn’t know you’ve bought more litres of ice cream than fat-free yoghurt, but it’s not inconceivable that before the end of the decade we’ll be collecting the sort of medical data it’s nearly impossible to massage. Being strong-armed into handing it over has some potentially alarming implications.
Look, all we’re saying is, we’ve seen Gattaca.
Nonetheless, we’ve definitely found that having a fitness tracker and sharing the data from it with other people makes us more conscious of how much (or little) exercise we’re doing and encourages us to walk down to the local Woolies rather than drive. The fear of being scorned by our peers is a potent motivator, indeed. Is it as potent when our peers are replaced by our medical aids? Where a bump or reduction in our premium is at stake, it may prove to be even more potent.