Recently I went to a science museum with my kids and a highlight of our trip was playing Mind-Controlled Ping Pong. To play you stick sticky pads connected to a machine through wires onto your temples and then try and move the ping pong ball to the opposite side of the court using the power of your mind. To my children’s amazement the ball moved – it was like being in our own version of Roald Dahl’s Matilda!
However, their amazement will likely be short lived if meditation bands are anything to go by. A new technology entering the market are affordable biofeedback devices. We’ve all seen people on TV running on a treadmill whilst hooked up to various monitors or people lying in a giant chamber which measures brain activity – well this technology has been shrunk and packaged into a consumer good.
Wearable biofeedback devices are the next big thing. People will be able to use smart devices to measure heart rate, body temperature, respiratory rate, muscle tension and brain waves. It is proven that having immediate data about the body promotes better understand and reactions to certain states. For instance it enhances relaxation or helps to achieve the most effective workout burn.
But it’s also much, much, much more than this. By combining data about our bodies with AI machines will have the ability to understand our needs and wants in real time and this could eventually be used to enhance the way our technology interacts with us. For instance if our heart rate soars and our brain activity increases Alexa and Siri et al can autonomously play us music it knows will soothe us, or if we are exercising and need to work harder it can play music that it knows will increase our effort. We could potentially turn the washing machine on just by thinking about it, the same with heating, air conditioning and lights etc. Alternatively we could order goods and services using our thoughts.
The possibilities are endless. And whilst biofeedback is still in its infancy and the ability to order a pizza just by thinking about it is probably a long way off (which is good news for my waistline!), it’s an incredibly exciting development! However, what is clear is that this will take big data to an even greater level with unprecedented volumes of data being created. And it will be because this will be PII data the way it is captured and processed will have to be tightly controlled. Being on the front foot and thinking about what this means for privacy and data architecture will be key for brands looking to implement this technology and leverage it for competitive advantage.