It's that time of year again, when we'll start hearing about new ways of tracking our health and losing weight. While that seems to be an annual holiday trend, making true health gains involves making a long term commitment to eating right, exercising more, getting more sleep, and so on. How do you learn about healthy habits? Hi.Q (free) is a new iPhone app that tests your knowledge through a series of fun and informational quizzes, then provides a community for mentoring others in a specific area or asking questions about those things you're clueless about.
Frankly, I didn't think I'd like this app. That's before I spent the weekend taking quizzes, learning a ton more about health-related matters than I had anticipated, and finding that my knowledge in some areas was so good that it was considered "elite" (had a score better than 80 percent of people in that topic).
After launching Hi.Q, you're asked to log in via email or through Facebook. The latter method allows you to brag about your results on Facebook, although I chose not to annoy friends with that capability. The app "knows" that you're of a certain gender and age, so it tailors many of the suggested quizzes to your interests.
The quizzes are all vetted by an expert team of nutritionists, doctors, fitness experts, trainers, dietitions, organic farmers, you name it. There's a preliminary quiz to test your overall knowledge. Some of those questions were incredibly difficult, asking about such things as Yoga poses and chromosomal birth defects in girls, two areas I'm completely clueless about... but I learned something by getting them wrong.
Each question needs to be answered within 60 seconds; you also have an "I don't know" button to push, as well as way to "Ask a friend" about the topic.
As you answer questions quickly and gain points, you work towards being a Health Enthusiast (10,000 points), Health Guru (20,000 points) or Health Pioneer (30,000 points). Considering that I'm currently at almost 42,000 points, I'm hoping that they have other levels to aspire to. Gamification of instruction can lose its effectiveness if there are no more goals to reach.
The app has more than 10,000 questions in over 300 topics, so you can keep yourself busy learning for quite a while. The questions were all calibrated with an audience of 250,000 people to determine those topics that are most important to long-term health. That same audience was polled and the developers found that a scant 21 percent of Americans have enough knowledge to take control of their health.
Provided you don't get into a weekend quiz binge like I did, you can continue to check out quizzes on a daily basis - today's daily topic, for example, is "Early Cancer Warning Signs You May Be Missing."
The app is surprisingly solid for a 1.0 release. I found a typo on a splash screen, and later found that the app would tell me that I "scored better than 0% of people on this quiz" before showing me a "Share on Facebook" screen that showed that I actually scored better than 91% of people." Those bugs notwithstanding, Hi.Q is very stable.
How did Hi.Q get started? In 2010, 37-year-old Munjal Shah (who later sold his company Like.com to Google) was running in a 10K and was sent to the ER. He didn't have a heart attack, but the scare was enough to make him commit to improving his health. As Shah says, "The foundation of our company is built off this idea - celebrate the people who are dedicated to their health rather than harass the people who don't take it seriously."
I find Hi.Q to be fun and motivational, teaching me things I didn't know about my health, reinforcing those things that I do know, and giving me impetus to launch the app every day. It's free, so you can't go wrong. Oh, and you'll find the story behind the purple carrot logo to be very interesting...