To qualify as “smart technology” there should be at least some marginal human benefit. Smart Tech should be solving real problems, saving time, or improving productivity...basically making our lives easier.
You can’t just throw sensors on a product, connect it through Bluetooth to an app that collects "whatever data" you can monitor through your smartphone and think it’s real "smart technology".
This rant started for me when I saw a "big announcement" from CES the “Smart Hair Brush”.
They packed a hairbrush with sensors to ensure "great hair brushing technique". It has a microphone that'll listen to the sound of your hair breakage while you're brushing your hair and the vibration functionality will alert you when you're brushing your hair too hard...it's connected to an app that will annualize your hair brushing data...all for the low, low price of around $250...Really?
Then, I was sent a video about a "smart tooth brush" with "intelligent bluetooth technology". It records your teeth brushing data that you can chart and share. You can to choose moderately clean or super-clean modes. I'm just wondering: who's going to choose moderately clean? I’m all for great oral hygiene but...really?
Ahhh...to be a fly on the wall during those brainstorming sessions. I am sure that the engineers are profoundly smart but I sometimes question the business logic involved. Smart Technology should be approached with some level of seriousness...not with just applying sensors to gadgetry and collecting random.
Smart technologies that address real problems
The "smart home" is all the rage. Sure you have coordinated TV’s and refrigerators that shop, timed lights & coffee in the morning, but, what keeps you secure in your home or when you are away?... the video doorbell and that's what most smart home device buyers are buying. It has a video camera, microphone, speaker, motion sensors, and an app...and you can see whois at the door, you can pretend you’re home when you're actually not, and you can know when your packages arrive...safety, security, convenience right there.
Smart healthcare also has some big hits. Two that I think are great are
- TempTraq, which offers a patch-like smart device - where you can monitor your children’s body temperature without disturbing their sleep. It's a patch that monitors, records, and sends the data to your smartphone...for24/7assurance.
- QardioCore, which offers an FDA-approved heart-monitor. The sensors record clinically accurate continuous ECG, heart rate & variability, respiratory rate, skin temperature, and activity data...which you can share with your doctor or sync it to the app.
And talk about smart in Luxury, how about the massage chair by Bodyfriend, which scans your body and creates a special massage just for you by measuring your different body parts and you can set preferences for massaging specific areas of your body.
The future of smart tech and innovation
The future of smart tech and innovation looks promising and exciting. Let's take eye care for example - Google filed a patent application a couple of year ago for 2 smart contact lenses one will monitor glucose and the other is an auto-focus lens for near-sightedness. They have backed off their timeline but it is still an exciting prospect.
Then there is a professor in Utah, who created liquid lens glasses that automatically focuses on whatever you’re looking at, close up or in the distance...they use infrared sensors to gage the distance and reshape the liquid lenses appropriately...another nice possibility.
There is amazing ingenuity and innovation here and on the horizon for the Internet of Things in many, many categories. There is going to be some fantastic products built that will make us safer and more secure, keep us healthier, and provide profound convenience...it should and generally will make our lives easier.