Your Toothbrush Will Know How Long You Brushed For

This is about when your toothbrush will know how long you brushed for, and why someone will make that happen.

Something I read last night made me think of the predictions made in a talk I heard. The talk was Design Outside The Box and it was given in 2010 by Carnegie Mellon University Professor, Jesse Schell.

The video of the talk was part of an online course in gamification that I took a couple of years ago.

If you are not familiar with gamification it is a way of encouraging people to a certain kind of behaviour by giving them the satisfaction that is typical in games – including rules, rewards, and competition.

The rewards can be extrinsic, such as money or discounts, or they can be intrinsic, such as medals or badges, or points.

Or they can be self-satisfaction giving, such as the pleasure of doing well in the game or in the activity around which the game is built. Competition can be against others or against oneself by doing better than one’s previous performance.

A child having to spend an hour playing the piano for an hour a day and getting a reward of an ice-cream can turn into a self-rewarding game when the child gets good enough that the experience of playing the piano and getting better at it becomes its own reward.

If the game is good, people will see it as having value and a character of its own and it will grow organically.

Jessie Schell is a great presenter – really exceptional – and if you want to watch the video of him talking about what I am about to describe, then here is the link to Jessie Schell’s talk.

He says (in 2010 when he gave the talk) – Game designers designed for fantasy, but the new movement in games is towards reality.

And we are primed and ready for reality and authenticity – we are cut off from nature and from self sufficiency – we want to get to anything that is real. We will take somewhat real or nearly real if it is presented as being more real. Put grass and a tree on a wrapper and say it’s natural, and we’ll take it: We are that desperate.

Sensors are what will bring the real world into games and games into the real world. And the key will be price and disposable technology.

Your toothpaste tube will contain a sensor with wifi connection that will detect how many times you squeezed it. Your toothbrush will know how long you brushed for and it will give you bonus points for brushing for the full recommended three minutes. And the points will get you discounts on your dental plan.

And the toothpaste company has provided you with an incentive to use more toothpaste.

Your bus card will know when you took the bus instead of the car and it will reward the help you give to the environment which will earn you points in the community leader board and lower your local taxes.

And your shoes will know when you walk to work and when you walk fast and that will give you points and if you walk every day for a week you will get bonus points and more discounts off your health plan.

Your cereal packet will have an interactive game on it and you will be able to play with your Facebook friends. And all the while you will be staring at the cereal packet and you will buy that cereal the next time because it has the game and because you started at the box for so long.

That was 2010, and on Google News this evening I read that

Insurance company Aetna today announced a major health initiative centered on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, which will see Aetna subsidizing the cost of the Apple Watch for both large employers and individual customers.

Well, that’s the commercial side of the equation. On the community side, Glasgow city council has been struggling for a while with how best arrange cycle paths through the city. Traffic is heavy, and the city was not built for cycling.

They realised it would be handy if they knew where cyclists actually cycled. And it turned out that that information was easy to get. Cyclists use apps that track their routes and their performance. So Glasgow negotiated a deal to get the anonymised information to help them plan their cycle paths.