It seems that the hottest jewelry pieces this season are not flashy necklaces or bracelets encrusted with glittering diamonds or gemstone baubles but rather inconspicuous bands embedded with wires and circuits that continuously measure and catalog the signs of a wearer’s vitality. From heart rate, quality of sleep and level of stress to number of steps, calories burned and body composition, these intelligent accessories feed a non-stop stream of data to wearers seeking heightened self-awareness and data that can drive them toward optimal health, wellness and performance.
Beyond personal optimization, there are now also ways for individuals to collect biometric data that can enable them to have a direct impact on their communities as well as society as a whole. One of these is a smartphone-compatible breathalyzer, such as the one launched by Alcohoot last month. Developed to address the significant problem of drunk driving—and the suffering and loss of life it causes—this portable device contains a precisely calibrated sensor that enables users to perform a reality check of their sobriety before getting behind the wheel.
Conventional wisdom tells us that knowledge is power but the reality is that raw data and the simple act of knowing are often insufficient to drive the behavior changes necessary to make a positive impact. What’s unique about Alcohoot—in addition to its concept and sensor technology—is how its accompanying app helps to bridge this gap between knowledge and action. By connecting users to additional information and services that support smarter decisions based on their state of sobriety, they can translate knowledge into action. For example, users can access a map of nearby restaurants—which are actually open at the given hour—where they can sober up, and they can connect to ride services such as Uber—at discounted rates—to get home safely.
The magnitude and quality of data we are collecting creates abundant business opportunities to turn information into positive action and drive behavior change. Alcohootcould, for example, partner with car-share services to offer insurance discounts to members who rent cars that require drivers to pass a sobriety-test before the car starts. Parking garages could offer deals on overnight parking—to incentivize not getting behind the wheel; cities could offer placards to give vehicles temporary immunity from towing when left overnight; or the company could partner with AAA’s “Tipsy Tow” program.
Social problems and improved health and public safety require systemic solutions. Raw data from a person’s wrist or phone-connected breathalyzer are just the first step. Systems are necessary to support individuals to change their behavior, often by offering incentives or making change easier or more palatable. Businesses can capitalize on the opportunities created by the data we’re collecting to help people make better decisions and, as a result, help society function better.