At the end of January, I wrote about the potential treasure trove of data collected by our smart phones and the increasing number of wearable devices we're buying. We already have watches that measure how fast we're walking (Fitbit), sensors that make us sit upright (Lumo), and our smart phone cameras are also heart rate monitors. In the future, contact lenses might also measure blood sugar levels. A 2011 market assessment, estimated that there will be 80m sports, fitness and "wellness" wearable devices by 2016.
In February, my colleague Ana Florescu argued that the internet of things - not just sensors we wear, but also ones we put in our homes, cars and workplaces – needs to refocus itself on users' needs.
We were both thinking about the same question, one which we're setting out to answer at Nesta this March:
“We talk about the economic and social value of opening up government data about crime numbers or hospital waiting times. But what about the data we're collecting about our daily lives?”
Through three events we're trying to kickstart a debate about privately-collected physiological data: from its role in the medical technology market, to its place in a national health service, and its potential for increasing rather than decreasing privacy.
Here's a summary of each event.
1 Refilling the Innovator’s Prescription
The launch of a new Silicon Valley Comes to the UK and Nesta paper looking at the potential of digital devices and data science in healthcare. This research is based on interviews with entrepreneurs at the 2013 Silicon Valley Comes to the UK event as well as other experts in the field. Cutting edge technologies are already changing the relationship between patients and doctors.
This new paper develops a picture of the future of healthcare where these innovations become the norm. The good news is that there will be massive improvement in the data and devices we can use to improve our health. The bad news is that institutions that have shaped this industry historically will be left behind if they do not adapt; as there are new entrants waiting in the wings with products that are fundamentally better at serving patients’ interests.
2 Data, health and me: the future of people-powered healthcare
A series of interactive sessions exploring of the future of personal data collection and its transformative potential
10:00–16:00, 17 March
Please email [email protected] if you are interested in attending this event
We are moving into an era when we can all collect physiological data about ourselves. At the moment we unconsciously give away data about our behaviour, whether that’s through website cookies or supermarket reward points. Could this rich, new data set help us move to an era of more conscious data sharing? Could it change the way we are understand human health?
But what motivates patients to share their data, and how could the health system do more to encourage and respond to these motivations? How could it deliver more sophisticated tools for prevention, participation, diagnosis and medical treatment?
Through a series of interactive sessions, Nesta invites policymakers, designers, researchers and the data science community to explore the future of personal data collection and its transformative potential. This event will be set a decade in advance, and will develop stories about the future to broaden public debate about the value of harnessing this data.
3. Biometrics: redefining privacy
A Hot Topics panel event looking at whether biometrics create a new kind of privacy using bodies, not passwords
16:30 – 17:30, 25 March (opens at 16:00, starts promptly at 16:30)
In an age when the death of passwords and privacy is declared daily, could our bodies become the ultimate passwords? From our fingertips, eyes or faces to our heart rate, vein-pattern, bodily odour or even our knees and thoughts, biometrics are offering new ways of accurately identifying individuals and securing their personal information. But how accurate are biometric measurements? Who owns the data and what is it being used for? Passwords can be changed, but what about our fingerprints or DNA - what happens when they are compromised?
Please join us and our specialist panel including Prof Juliet Lodge (Senior Analyst at AIMTECH, University of Leeds), Isabelle Moeller (Chief Executive, Biometrics Institute), Matthew Silverstone (CEO, Facebanx), and Dr Peter Waggett (Programme Leader, IBM’s Emerging Technology Group) to discuss the value of biometrics and what it could mean for privacy.
The event will also feature an exhibition of wearable technologies from the Futures 10 collection. The audience will get the chance to engage with and challenge their conceptions of privacy, security and surveillance.