The Internet of Things - Smart Toothbrush

What Is The Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things is the idea that everything in your house – from your fridge to your toothbrush – will one day be wired to the world, gathering data in order to optimise your experience.

A smart fridge, for example, could be used to keep a tab on your food supplies, perhaps sending an alert when you’re running low on the essentials. One day you’ll be able to connect with your fridge whilst out shopping. Do you need milk? Why not find out!

Like internet banking, this might eventually become the sort of thing you’ll one day take for granted, eventually wondering how you ever went without. But some remain unconvinced. Some are even frightened. They worry that the collected data might be used for nefarious purposes. The words “Skynet” and “NSA” get thrown about. They also argue that smartphones and social media are invasive enough already, so why add to the network? Mostly, though, they seem to think that this whole thing is absurd. “Smart toothbrushes?” they cry. “What’s next? Smart toilet paper?”

Do We Really Need An Internet Toothbrush?

People are often paranoid and sceptical in the face of new technology. Let me briefly address their main concerns using the example of the much-maligned smart toothbrush.

First of all, the idea that the data collected by your appliances might be used to spy on you. How could your safety and security possibly be compromised by your brushing habits? Most likely, the information would be shared not with your government or local terrorist cell, but with your dentist. Reading the data, they could reduce diagnostic time through highlighting problematic areas and identifying remedies in advance of appointments. You get a streamlined service, they get a slightly easier job. Everybody’s happy.

Second, the notion that a world of smart cars, smart fridges and smart toothbrushes would be invasive and irritating. The Guardian recently reported on The Internet of Things. Below their article, someone commented, all in capitals, “I DO NOT WANT MY TEETH CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET”.

Solution? Don’t buy a smart toothbrush. It’s not as though the world’s about to have smart toothbrushes forced down their throats. It will always be possible to stay unplugged.

Why Choose An Internet Toothbrush?

Finally, those who wonder “what’s the point?”

“The point” depends on the product. Your smart toothbrush can develop a personalised brushing routine, whilst an associated smart app displays interesting news stories to keep you occupied whilst you brush. The result? A more thorough and effective teeth cleaning system and a lifetime of excellent dental health.

How many parents struggle to get their children to clean their teeth? How much easier would it be if children could watch cartoons as they brushed?

But that’s just the toothbrush. Every smart product has its own unique use, and the possibilities are endless. This infographic from “smart product” leaders EVRYTHNG illustrates the many ways the Internet of Things could benefit both businesses and customers. It’s taken from a very informative whitepaper that’s essential reading for anybody who’s even vaguely interested in the idea of total connectivity:

Benefits of The Internet of Things

Whilst many will be perfectly happy to share their data if it will result in a richer overall experience, not everyone wants this level of connectivity. But those who do are rapidly moving towards an exciting new world in which everything can be easily adapted to suit their individual needs and preferences.

Regardless of the implications, everyone else will want to catch up eventually.

5 responses to “In Defence of The Internet of Things”

  1. Liz Bygrave says:

    I’m one of those luddites who are highly dubious about the internet of things. I think it is perfectly possible that this will result in increased scrutiny over every aspect of our lives. This might well be useful to those in power in the way of increased control, which I think with recent events, is a justifiable concern. More immediately perhaps it will also allow corporate interests to advertise their products and services to us in ever more precise and sophisticated ways, making it ever harder to resist their marketing messages, and become the increasingly perfect consumer they wish us to be (on a planet I would add, which probably cannot take much more in the way of even our current levels of consumerism.

    Last but by no means least, all this will result in ever more electromagnetic radiation polluting our environment. Each internet connected device may emit only a very low level of EMR, but we already live in an environment which is highly polluted with EMR, with ever more people becoming sensitive to it. The last thing we need is yet more, particularly perhaps in such close proximity. Using your example, personally I’m not rushing to put an internet connected toothbrush into my mouth on a twice daily basis.

    • Thanks for your comment, Liz. I understand your points, and your reservations are certainly the sort of things we absolutely should be talking about.

      Be that as it may, I wrote this article because I sometimes get the impression that people are opposed to the idea of the internet of things based purely on principal, forgetting the fact that you’ll never, ever, ever be forced into choosing smart technology.

      Some reservations are misguided, too. For example, rather than increasing consumerism, the internet of things could refine it, perhaps even reign it in. The current advertising model requires marketers to flood the world with broad, obnoxious advertisements in the hope that someone – anyone – might be interested. It’s from these brash cries for attention that the ugly side of consumerism arises – the idea that you need certain products to be happy.

      But with the internet of things, we could reach a point whereby only those who are likely to use your product might see an advertisement in the first place. Gone will be the glut, replaced with something more sophisticated and tailored to your life, your interests, your needs. If our economy needs consumerism in order to function, I’d much rather have the more personalised experience than the current system.

      Your points about EMR, though, are interesting. Have you any links so I might explore this issue in greater depth?

    • Also, it’s wrong to assume that the internet of things exists for purely marketing-related purposes. It’s all about optimising the user experience.

      The example that excites me is the idea of the smart guitar, which can be used to connect with other musicians in the area to create jamming sections that might otherwise never have happened.

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