Smart Tech should solve real problems, save time, or improve productivity

Smart Tech Should Solve Real Problems

I am excited to share the third video segment that I worked on in partnership with Chivas Venture (here is the first one on Artificial Intelligence and the second one on Social Entrepreneurship).   Please leave your comments, thoughts, and suggestions in the comments section below.

To qualify as “smart technology” there should be at least some marginal human benefit.  Smart Tech should be solving real problems, saving time, or improving productivity…basically making our lives easier.

You can’t just throw sensors on a product, connect it through Bluetooth to an app that collects “whatever data” you can monitor through your smartphone and think it’s real “smart technology”.


This rant started for me when I saw a “big announcement” from CES the “Smart Hair Brush”.  They packed a hairbrush with sensors to ensure “great hair brushing technique”. It has a microphone that’ll listen to the sound of your hair breakage while you’re brushing your hair and the vibration functionality will alert you when you’re  brushing your hair too hard…it’s connected to an app that will annualize your hair brushing data…all for the low, low price of around $250…Really?

Then, I was sent a video about a “smart tooth brush” with “intelligent bluetooth technology”. It records your teeth brushing data that you can chart and share.  You can to choose moderately clean or super-clean modes. I’m just wondering: who’s going to choose moderately clean? I’m all for great oral hygiene but…really?

Ahhh…to be a fly on the wall during those brainstorming sessions. I am sure that the engineers are profoundly smart but  I sometimes question the business logic involved.  Smart Technology should be approached with some level of seriousness…not with just applying sensors to gadgetry and collecting random.

To qualify as “smart technology” there should be at least some marginal human benefit! Click To Tweet

Smart technologies that address real problems

The “smart home” is all the rage. Sure you have coordinated TV’s and refrigerators that shop, timed lights & coffee in the morning, but, what keeps you secure in your home or when you are away?… the video doorbell and that’s what most smart home device buyers are buying.  It has a video camera, microphone, speaker, motion sensors, and an app…and you can see whois at the door, you can pretend you’re home when you’re actually not, and you can know when your packages arrive…safety, security, convenience right there.

Smart healthcare also has some big hits. Two that I think are great are

  • TempTraq, which offers a patch-like smart device – where you can monitor your children’s body temperature without disturbing their sleep. It’s a patch that monitors, records, and sends the data to your smartphone…for24/7assurance.
  • QardioCore, which offers an FDA-approved heart-monitor. The sensors record clinically accurate continuous ECG, heart rate & variability, respiratory rate, skin temperature, and activity data…which you can share with your doctor or sync it to the app.

And talk about smart in Luxury, how about the massage chair by Bodyfriend, which scans your body and creates a special massage just for you by measuring your different body parts and you can set preferences for massaging specific areas of your body.

The future of smart tech and innovation

The future of smart tech and innovation looks promising and exciting.  Let’s take eye care for example – Google filed a patent application a couple of year ago for 2 smart contact lenses one will monitor glucose and the other is an auto-focus lens for near-sightedness. They have backed off their timeline but it is still an exciting prospect.

Then there is a professor in Utah, who created liquid lens glasses that automatically focuses on whatever you’re looking at, close up or in the distance…they use infrared sensors to gage the distance and reshape the liquid lenses appropriately…another nice possibility.

There is amazing ingenuity and innovation here and on the horizon for the Internet of Things in many, many categories. There is going to be some fantastic products built that will make us safer and more secure, keep us healthier, and provide profound convenience…it should and generally will make our lives easier. 

Technology Helps Fuel Social Entrepreneurship

Technology Helps Fuel Social Entrepreneurship

I am excited to share the second video segment that I worked on in partnership with Chivas Venture (here is the first one on Artificial Intelligence).   Please leave your comments, thoughts, and suggestions in the comments section below.

Whether it’s cleaning up the ocean with The Ocean Cleanup or crowdfunding medical treatment for people around the world with Watsi or monitoring storm water in real time to prevent water contamination with Stormsensor,  there is a tremendous amount of good work going on right now from Social Entrepreneurs, and, for these entrepreneurs, creating and leveraging technology is at the center of it.

Social Entrepreneurs mostly leverage the Internet – web, mobile, and social media tools. Which allows them to extend their reach to large numbers of people, not based on proximity, but, based on shared interests and shared goals. With all of the tools available, they can disseminate information almost instantly, have distributed teams and collaborate, schedule and coordinate their activities and do quite a bit of fundraising…all online.

When entrepreneurship meets innovation and can leverage technology that helps you scale…that’s when you can have the greatest impact and can do the most social good.

Technology is playing such a crucial role in this space that it’s hard to imagine how it was done before. Communication is easier, mobilization is faster, and fundraising is instant and immediate.

Social impact entrepreneurship is not a man or woman thing, as it’s near parity…women make up over 45% of the Social entrepreneurs and that number is growing.

But, let’s clear up a misconception about social entrepreneurship…although there are many claims to the contrary, making money is a big deal. If your venture doesn’t make or raise enough money, it will fail.

Who is best positioned to take advantage of the latest technology and combine it with the momentum of the Social Entrepreneurship movement?
The Millennial generation.  Millennials are very capable, action oriented, and idealists. They’re highly-mobile, interconnected and have the desire to solve society’s issues and are ready to find new solutions to old problems. It is they who are the Social Entrepreneurs of now and the near future.

With all the technology tools available, social entrepreneurs of the future will be driven more by measurable outcomes rather than personal values or mission statements.

They will have to show how they turn their missions into metrics that are quantifiable…how many people fed, how many trees planted, how many dogs saved, etc.

Over the next few years Social Entrepreneurs will take a profound role in shaping and influencing the conduct of business and they will ensure that a commitment to social good is a natural part of the way we do business.