Are you ready for a 'quantified life'?

Forget the 'quantified self.' The 'quantified life' monitors your phone, not your body.

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Instead of using the data it gathers for advertising purposes, Placeme just makes that information available to you -- and nobody else.

Here's an interview by Silicon Valley blogger Robert Scoble with Alohar's founder, CEO and CTO, Sam Liang. (Liang used to work at Google, where he designed the Google Location API.)

Placeme is what Foursquare would be if you checked in at every location where you stayed for more than four minutes and annotated those check-ins with other data. Except with Placeme you don't check in. You don't have to do anything. (You can optionally specify or change the name of locations, and add notes.)

Later, you can review a list of all the places you've been, or see them pinned on a Google Map. A search button lets you search your history.

The app is fun, but it's not the most interesting thing about Alohar. The Placeme app is really a proof-of-concept demonstration of the real product, which is an "ambient location platform" for app developers.

Alohar's Mobile Behavior Analytics Engine squeezes meaning out of user sensor data and offers libraries of data analysis to developers.

For example, based on the speed at which you're moving and the pattern of your phone's motion sensor, Alohar's software can tell if you're walking, skateboarding, biking, driving or flying. The GPS can tell where this is taking place. The clock tells when.

It can also auto-categorize locations as "home," "work," "restaurant," "gym" and other groupings, and provide you with statistics about, for example, how many hours you spend at work each month.

By combining GPS, light sensor and temperature data, the software can tell if you're inside or outside.

The technology has a practical emergency application: It can tell if you've been in a car accident. If your deceleration is fast enough, then, by definition, you've been in a collision. It would be theoretically possible to develop an app that calls 911 when you've been in a crash and relays information about your location and perhaps some details of the incident.

The system can also out-Siri Siri -- theoretically. Virtual personal assistants in the age of Siri derive value from understanding regular human speech. But tomorrow's assistants will earn their keep by understanding actual human behavior.

Note that every data point gathered can be connected to a universe of useful information. For example, by knowing where you drive and also where you tend to buy gas, an app could suggest cheaper gas at stations near the routes you drive on a regular basis.

There's another "ambient awareness" app called Highlight that tells you when someone you know -- or someone who knows someone you know -- is nearby.

A combination of a system like Alohar's and an app like Highlight could tell you how you're connected to the strangers around you (those who also use the same app). Here's a guy who goes to the same gym you do. There's a woman whose kids go to the same school as your kids. One of your neighbors works in a building next to your workplace -- maybe you should carpool.

It's impossible to predict what creative developers could do with this service.

The combination of ambient sensing, powerful analytics, strong encryption and good privacy policies could usher in a world where our smartphones can be more than just handy gadgets. They could be life-transforming tools that enable us to use our own data for our own purposes.

Are you ready to quantify your life?

Mike Elgan writes about technology and tech culture. You can contact Mike and learn more about him at Elgan.com, or subscribe to his free e-mail newsletter, Mike's List. You can also see more articles by Mike Elgan on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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