Tuesday, March 29, 2016
IOT Meets Human Psychology
By Seow Lim
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects — devices, vehicles, buildings and other items — embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data, as defined in Wikipedia. These devices around us are collecting data about us. The Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence engines in the clouds are taking these data and learning about us, they are proactively looking for ways to make our lives more convenient. They predict what we want or need, and offer it to us before we even ask for it. This is the next growth engine of the Silicon Valley according to this New York Times article .
As we humans and the devices around us are getting more connected and more intelligent, our lives become more convenient, the machines are learning more about our needs and our thoughts. What about us learning about each other? What’s the best way to achieve that? Can technology help? Social media collects the videos and photos that we ‘Like” and ‘Share’. Search engines collect the keywords that we search. The sensors in a smart refrigerator find out the favorite grocery our family consumes. The Artificial Intelligence takes data and analyzes us. The accuracy and convenience advanced technology bring are astounding.
These technologies continue to innovate and improve. In the pursuit of deeper machine learning about human and our lives, are we neglecting human emotions? Sherry Turkle, a psychologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has spent the past 30 years observing how people react and adapt to new technologies that change the way we communicate. In her latest book,Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, Turkle argues that social media — texts, tweets, Facebook posts, emails, instant messages etc have replaced face-to-face conversation, and that people are slowly observing the consequences. Our ability to have valuable face-to-face conversations are decreasing, the “most human thing we do,” by splitting our attention and diminishing our capacity for empathy. Technology is here to stay, but we still want ourselves and our kids to learn emotions, conversations and empathy. We don’t want to be isolated, we want to be truly connected ‘emotionally’.
And technology can help. In the same way that other IoTs are making improvements to our busy lives, IoT can also help in enhancing our face-to-face connection to one and other — starting with the tightest connection — parent and children. Povi, is the first and only conversation starting innovation that deploys IoT technology into the form of a connected toy. Designed to help parents raise happier, caring and confident children, Povi is a huggable app-enabled storytelling buddy for children ages 3–8. Povi shares short stories based on children’s everyday situations then engages young listeners and their parents in a discussion on emotions and feelings. There are IOT from coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices, sprinklers, clothes, anything and everything you can think of. How about IoT for helping parents enhance their kids emotional intelligence, skills that tie to happier, more successful lives in the future?
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