Larry Smarr stops a visitor and says, “Before you go, let me show you my stool sample.”
The UC San Diego physicist-futurist reaches into his kitchen refrigerator, past the milk, and pulls out a small white box. He marvels over its contents.
“The bacteria in here contains more info than you’d find on a computer chip,” Smarr says. “It’s a window into your health. Within 10 years, people won’t dream of going to a doctor without first getting a sample like this.”
Feeling squeamish? Smarr can have that effect on people. Virtually nothing is out-of-bounds these days when he promotes the “Quantified Self,” an emerging movement in which people use biosensors and other gadgets to closely monitor their bodies in the name of wellness.
At 63, Smarr thinks he’s found the future of personal health care. Time will tell. But colleagues note that he’s one of the most original thinkers in the country, with an almost eerie gift for sensing and shaping where society and technology are going.