The convergence of faster and less expensive bandwidth, cheaper storage, data and analytics, and advancements in sensor technology has enabled rapid growth of the Internet of Everything—or Industrial Internet, Internet of Things, Machine-to-Machine, as it is variously known.
At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show it seemed that every booth featured some type of wearable or connected device. Last year a connected fork was in the spotlight. The HAPIfork is built on the maker’s premise that “eating too fast leads to poor digestion and poor weight control.” The utensil not only tracks how long your meal takes to eat and the time between bites, but sends the diner real-time cues via lights and vibrations when it detects you are eating too fast.
One of this year’s most talked about items was the connected toothbrush by Kolibree. It gathers data about your brushing habits to encourage better dental hygiene. Your habits are analyzed and you can even share the data with your dentist. The toothbrush and associated smartphone app will be available this summer.
In early 2013, Techonomy hosted a half-day event in Menlo Park, California that focused on this IoE phenomenon, and kicked off with a short video highlighting TweetPee, a product that, as its name suggests, sends a Tweet to parents when their child wets its diaper. The video, and the product, was created by Huggies Brazil, and is in fact real.
In the Eureka Park section highlighting early-stage companies at this year’s CES, I came across Sensible Baby. Still in its early stages, Sensible Baby is building a sensor that attaches to your sleeping newborn via a customized onesie that monitors and reports ambient temperature, movement, and even your baby’s position (face up or down) to your network-connected smartphone or tablet. What the device does not measure is the infant’s actual temperature or heart rate, which would be more invasive and require direct skin contact (plus more complicated regulatory approvals).
“I can’t tell you how many times I tiptoed into my daughter’s room while she was asleep, listening to make sure she was still breathing,” says Sensible Baby co-founder and CTO Jeffrey Tagen. “Every parent I’ve spoken to tells of the same experience, our product is designed to ease their anxiety without having to disturb their infant.”
When I asked Tagen for his thoughts on the connected toothbrush, he commented, “I’m a big fan…. Anything that provides more data and insight into my life is exciting. Anything that helps my kids develop good habits is twice as good.”
As Tagen notes, ultimately the data and insights that result from connected devices are what will be key to their success. Devices that measure your activity and/or sleep like Fitbit, Nike Fuel Band, and Jawbone Up have impacted behavioral changes in walking and sleeping habits for many already. Maybe the connected fork and toothbrush can have similar influence over eating and personal hygiene. On the other hand, as a parent of a newborn, Sensible Baby strikes me as providing not only actionable data, but peace of mind.