Alessandro, Gavin and I wanted to perform a closer look to a specific tranche of the population, and we came up with children. After all, what are the most precious human being to adults? Children, our present and future kids.
It would be ironic to blame previous generations for leaving us a polluted planet affected by global warming, due to non-sustainable industrial activities and massive exploitation of fossil fuels if ourselves do not do anything to leave our mother Earth at a better place.
Pollution of tomorrow is a lack of privacy and security. For example, in 2015, a doll named Cayla, which can hold conversations, was hacked and it went on the news, raising then the concern of the cyber safety of IoT for children (BBC, 2015).
We should learn from the past and develop future applications by ensuring privacy is respected and security is actually properly shielded.
Example of IoT applications for children
By doing some research for this post, it seems that what is popular these days are GPS tracker wearables for kids. We will not extend on these devices but focus on the ones related to healthcare.
The principles applications on the market are used mainly to monitor babies’ health and to provide guidance.
Owlet is a smart sock that monitors babies’ heart rate and oxygen level. It alerts parents on their smartphone if the baby stops breathing while he/she sleeps (Owlet Baby Care, 2016).
Kinsa is a smart thermometer which reads and displays temperature by plugging the device into the jack input of any smartphone (except the iPhone 7 I suppose…), tracks reading history and provides guidance if the temperature is abnormal (Kinsa Health, 2016).
- Milk Nanny
Milk Nanny is a connected device that helps parents to make the perfect milk for their baby (water, temperature, quantities, etc.) (Milk Nanny, 2016).
- Smart Diapers
Smart Diapers is a product that analyses babies’ urine and defecation in order to see if there is anything wrong, such as “urinary tract infection”, “prolonged dehydration”, “developing kidney problems” (ABC News, 2013) (Indiegogo, 2016). This product is only a project looking for crowdfunding for now.
Beyond cyber risks
In this blog, we tackled security issues and in this post, cyber breaches can be dangerous for parents monitoring their children’s health, by providing wrong information, no information or to see data released against their will.
But also, for this specific topic, we would like to take a couple of other angles that can affect health and development of children.
- Wi-Fi radiations
This thought comes from an article I read in Le Monde, a French newspaper, in 2015 where the journalist Pierre Le Hir explained that the French government passed a bill to forbid Wi-Fi in day nurseries and to limit it in primary schools only for pedagogic purposes (Le Hir, 2015).
It seems that there are some disagreements whether Wi-Fi radiations, classified as “2b”, meaning “possibly carcinogenic”, could have a negative impact on health or not (Douglas, 2015). French legislators, not knowing themselves where was the truth, preferred to adopt the precautionary principle.
As current or future parents, with all these potential connected devices, we could ask ourselves how exposed we want our children to be exposed to these radiations.
- Children’s development
Today, we see children handling electronic devices even before reading. For example, in the USA in 2013, “38% of children under the age of two had used a mobile device for media – a number that was only 10% in 2011” (Common Sense Media, 2013).
As called out by Sarah Brown, online journalist and tech specialist at the Info Security magazine, that could involve a negative impact on children’s development. Indeed, “doctors commonly recommend that children younger than two years old not be allowed to look at screens because too much screen time can harm a child’s memory, reading ability, and language development” (Brown, 2016).
These are factors that as parents, we should think about when we consider the growing amount of IoT devices available to children.
To conclude on a more personal note, I’m concerned about the fact that by using systematically IoT devices to monitor, track and take care of our children, we lose our collective and intrinsic human knowledge on how to take care of our progeny.
ABC News, (2013). Smart Diapers collect medical information about a child’s urine.. [image] Available at: http://a.abcnews.com/images/Technology/ht_smart_diapers_kb_130709_16x9_992.jpg [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].
Adams, D. (2016). Digital parenting: The best baby tech and connected baby monitors. [online] Wareable. Available at: http://www.wareable.com/parenting/the-best-wearables-babies-smart-baby-monitors [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].
BBC, (2015). What did she say?! Talking doll Cayla is hacked. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-31059893 [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].
Blue Maestro, (2016). Bluetooth enabled pacifier for kids. [image] Available at: https://wp-engine-media.s3.amazonaws.com/Bluetooth-enabled%20pacifier%20for%20kids_Pacifi.jpg [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].
Brown, S. (2016). 50 billion devices, IoT isn’t something parents can ignore. [online] http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/. Available at: http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/opinions/the-internet-of-toys/ [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].
Common Sense Media, (2013). Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America 2013. [online] Common Sense Media. Available at: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/sites/default/files/research/zero-to-eight-2013.pdf [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].
Douglas, I. (2015). Wi-Fi is not harming our children – here’s the evidence. The Telegraph. [online] Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/mother-tongue/11599311/Wi-Fi-is-not-harming-our-chidren-heres-the-evidence.html [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].
Indiegogo. (2016). Smart Diapers. [online] Available at: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/smart-diapers#/ [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].
Kinsa Health. (2016). How it Works | Kinsa Digital Smart Thermometers. [online] Available at: https://www.kinsahealth.com/products/how-it-works [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].
Le Hir, P. (2015). Une loi pour encadrer l’exposition aux ondes. Le Monde. [online] Available at: http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2015/01/29/une-loi-pour-encadrer-l-exposition-aux-ondes_4565339_3244.html [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].
Milk Nanny. (2016). Wicoz Inc.|Milk Nanny, The World’s first Smart Home Baby Formula Milk Maker.. [online] Available at: http://www.milknanny.com/ [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].
Owlet Baby Care. (2016). How It Works. [online] Available at: http://www.owletcare.com/how-it-works/ [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].
Owlet, (2016). owlet-baby-on-back-with-phone-connected. [image] Available at: https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1004/3036/products/owlet-baby-on-back-with-phone-connected_1024x1024.jpg?v=1466839832 [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].
Pous, M. (2016). To All First-Time Mothers: Your Troubles Solved by IoT | thethings.iO Blog. [online] thethings.iO BLOG. Available at: http://blog.thethings.io/first-time-mothers-troubles-solved-iot/ [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].
Stern, J. (2013). Smart Diapers Work With a Smartphone. [online] ABC News. Available at: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/smart-diapers-aim-gather-urine-data-provide-child/story?id=19620280 [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].
The Gadget Flow, (2016). Milk Nanny. [image] Available at: http://cdn.thegadgetflow.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Milk-Nanny-01.jpeg [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].
Twiniversity, (2016). Sick Child Kinsa. [image] Available at: http://i1.wp.com/www.twiniversity.com/wp-content/uploads/SickChildKinsaA.jpg [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].
Image courtesy of Blue Maestro