I just saw this interesting article in Boston.com about a new product that allows parents to use “smart” diapers for their kids. Click here for article. Really an interesting usage of QR codes and a glimpse into how technology can be leveraged to monitor our current health…and future health. In light of all that has been going on with the NSA snooping on our data, this is another great channel for the NSA to start tracking potential trouble makers. Hahaaa. That was a joke, but only slightly.
I tend to be an optimist when it comes to technology and how it impacts our day to day lives, this is not exception. But there are some cautions.
The good – being a father myself and remembering how stressful it was at times with a baby in a diaper. Why does his poop look different? Is he peeing enough? Why does he feel hot? And the list of questions a first time parent goes on and on. I can see the value in being able to scan a QR code and get answers to some of these questions. Being able to share, remotely, with the pediatrician data that can either ease ones mind or call for a visit to the doctor. Eventually could that “real time” data allow doctors to anticipate potential issues?
Based on the information your medical provider could anticipate potential issues, send you a text, email or call with a message such as “Bill we noticed that your child was showing early signs of dehydration, we are expecting more of this heat wave make sure you double the liquids your baby intakes.”
Of course there is the potential for less than good. The big brother aspect of this amount of data being shared. What if your medical provider starts trying to predict what diseases that child might get in their 20s or 40s or 70s. And prescribes actions today, which may not work and have many unintended consequences?
On a more business cynical side, how valuable might some of this data be for companies trying to sell you products…I am looking at you large CPG and retailers. P&G might be able to notice that your child’s urine seems to be excessive, and could be leading to greater diaper rash – and poof you get offers for their latest “intense diaper rash cream.” Or maybe they take that data and start building a customer profile…literally from the time you are in diapers.
Overall I am positive that gathering greater data, closer to the consumer, is good. But this reminds us that the data itself isn’t good or bad, it is the way we decide to leverage that data that is what we need to be cautious of.