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Business Internet of Things

When the Quantified Self Wants to Conceive a Child

The Glow app tells users when they're most fertile.

The Glow app tells users when they’re most fertile.

As if  baby making isn’t exciting enough, the new venture of angel investor Max Levchin and his four-man founding team promises that “using Glow to conceive is effective and more fun!”

Described on the company website as “an ambitious enterprise where for the first time ever, our emerging ability to crunch and analyze vast quantities of data will be specifically used to help get you pregnant,” Glow is a free iPhone fertility app. Unveiled in the iTunes App Store in August, it requires a woman to observe and track all the same data she would without the app: menstrual cycle, basal temperature, presence of cervical mucous. Glow even recommends using the ClearBlue digital ovulation test in conjunction with the app.

But by conscientiously entering those data into the app, a woman and her partner can not just zero in on her most fertile days of the month, but learn the probability of conceiving each day, coordinate their busy schedules around that intelligence, get reminders about when to avoid the hot tub or when to head to bed early, and learn about fertility-promoting “tasks.”

And, as PandoDaily’s Carmel Deamicis reports, thanks to a partnership announced today with the diet and exercise app MyFitnessPal, the Glow app will automatically update with the user’s body-mass index information.

Ultimately, the value in Glow lies in the company’s machine learning algorithm, which will aggregate and interpret data from each anonymous app user’s inputs–including “yes” or “no” answers about whether she had sex, what position she did it in, if she experienced emotional or physical discomfort, and whether she had an orgasm–to offer new insights into what causes infertility or increases chances of conception. Adding BMI and other data from MyFitnessPal could, PandoDaily reports, “help fertility efforts, like determining the most opportune time to have sex or recommending foods that could improve the pregnancy chances.”

The Glow-MyFitnessPal deal “portends a larger, more compelling trend: the connected body,” Deamicis suggests. She compares it to the connected home, “where devices like thermostats or surveillance cameras get ‘smart’ once they’re connected to the Internet. … For example, the new Nest smart fire alarm will tell the Nest smart thermostat if it senses carbon monoxide, and the thermostat will turn off the furnace.”

Considering that metaphor, it’s easy to imagine a day when two people trying to procreate will simply synch their sensors. Then we’ll be talking about interconnected bodies.

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