Sensors: What do consumers want & need?

[Link to the survey is here]

We keep hearing more about developments in the world of sensors which hope to be able to monitor our health in between visits to the doctor. Some of the most prevalent sensors in 2014 are those in wearable technologies such as wrist based trackers which monitor how far you've walked or how much you've slept. In 2015, Apple's watch is due to launch, offering more of that but in a sleeker design. Will they add further sensors to the watch over time? There is much excitement about these technologies, but what problems do they actually solve? Are we building the right technology for the right people at the right price? Is this a sustainable market or merely a bubble? Is all of this technology socially desirable? What do consumers around the world actually need?

Many of us forget to take our medications, especially as we get older. This causes problems not just for us as patients, but for the people that are caring for us. What if we could have a smart pill that could tell notify others automatically that we have taken our medication? It's already been invented by Proteus Digital Health. I still find myself in awe when thinking about how far we have come, and wondering where we might go next?

Socks that measure how much pressure we place on different parts of the foot, cars that can monitor our health, even our homes. The dream of the Internet of Things is that we will move to a world where tens of billions of devices are connected powered by machine to machine communication. At the moment, it is a dream but companies are entering this space, and exploring how to build the ecosystem that allows this dream to become a reality.

Now, our bodies generate data 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Imagine a world where sensors on our bodies, in our environment or even inside of our bodies could harness this data stream and use it to improve not just our individual health but the health of the world. 

That's the vision behind the Center for Body Computing at USC. It's the home of the Body Computing conference (BCC), set up by Dr Leslie Saxon in 2007. That's the same year that the first iPhone was launched. We need visionaries like Dr Saxon to challenge our thinking, and to create environments which enable us push the boundaries of what we believe is possible, even if that does upset some of the traditional thinking in health & social care. I first attended the conference in 2012, and it's one of my favourite events to attend. I wrote about my 2013 experience.

This Friday, Dr Saxon once again hosts BCC, only this year, I'm not just attending, I'm speaking there! A privilege and an honour. 

I'm on a panel titled "The State of Venture Investment in Digital Health and the State of Consumer Wants and Needs". I'm speaking on consumer wants and needs. I believe the patient/consumer voice is still not heard as frequently as it could be, which is what drives me in my research to refine my understanding of what people around the world really want from all this new technology.

Do people feel comfortable with a world where machines know more about their health than their doctor? Do people feel comfortable with sensors that are implanted under the skin or even swallowed? What aspect of their health do people want to monitor the most? Do people want a world where sensors embedded in their cars, homes and offices monitor the state of their body? Do people worry about how these new sources of data may be used against them?

I want to be able to capture the pulse of the world and share those opinions at BCC. This is where I would like your help. From San Diego to Sydney, from New York to New Delhi, from Accra to Abuja, I want to understand your needs, desires and concerns. I want your voice to count!

I want to harness the insights of the crowd through an online survey I'm launching today. 

The link to the survey is here.

Please could you share the link to the survey via your networks. I've never done this before, so it's an experiment. I hope to get responses from as many different countries as possible. 

I'll be sharing the results of the survey at BCC, and I'll be publishing the results in a blog post next week. My hope is that I can repeat this survey at regular intervals to see how consumer wants & needs evolve.  

[Disclosure: I have no commercial ties to any of the individuals or organisations mentioned in the post]

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