Guest post by Emily Kittle, Digital Strategist
To no surprise, a major theme on day one of SXSW was discussion around the Internet of Things – but this year, it seems that most panelists agree that it’s no longer a thing of the future. The Internet of You (an extension of the Internet of Things) is already here – and this is only the beginning. Below is a firsthand reflection of the following SXSW sessions: “The Internet of You: Wearables and Under-Skin Marketing” and “Home Sweet Home: The Health Hub of the Future.”
In the landscape of digital health today, wearables track and record your breath, pulse and movement, providing a truly personalized experience that has never been available before, while providing unique data about individuals’ activities, heart rates, sleep patterns, locations and more (check out Samsung’s 3G-capable smartwatch Gear S2). Reality-altering devices provide first-person views that someone may otherwise never experience – unlike Rift and similar VR devices which provide a fully immersive experience, see Microsoft’s HoloLens which adds visuals to a user’s physical view, partially immersing them into a “created” world of their choice, while still being able to see their real physical surroundings.
But why? Several key words seemed to pop across today’s sessions regarding this topic: personalized, real-time, utility, value, seamless, access, convenience, the list goes on. People want to have access to their own personal data and to experience worlds beyond their imaginations. But beyond that, there seems to be a shift in the way people crave, view and engage with these technologies. That shift is from a more inward view to any form that now affects our outer world – people not only want access to their personal data, they want to be able to provide that information and connect in a meaningful way with others based on that data, whether it’s friends, family, physicians, etc. (read about Under Armour’s Healthbox fitness tracking system for an example).
So what does this mean and where do we go from here? One particular session today emphasized the critical role that homes will play as healthcare continues to shift in the coming years (think smart homes with a primary emphasis on healthcare). Home devices can provide insights into people’s daily activities, routines and behaviors that could potentially help prevent dangerous health situations. The panel discussed the use of LED lighting to help patients with anxiety and depression, mattress cooling system technologies to help women with menopause to cool down when sleeping at night and providing environmental changes within the home that can encourage healthy cooking and eating habits for those with diabetes.
Overall, today’s sessions highlighted how health technology can act as a leverage for creating positive behavioral change. Wearables, reality altering devices and the home are all powerful catalysts for empowering people to live their best lives. But for the vast majority of people, data is not enough.