The Future Of Biometric Marketing

Comment

Image Credits: tlorna (opens in a new window) / Shutterstock (opens in a new window)

Cavan Canavan

Contributor

Cavan Canavan is the CEO of FocusMotion.

More posts from Cavan Canavan

Editor’s note: Cavan Canavan is a co-founder of the motion tracking technology company FocusMotion.

The current smartwatch and fitness device space is stagnant. The offerings and the devices are a commoditized mess with companies competing for the same consumers – with the same features. There must be more available from these devices than just tracking steps, miles walked, sleep and general activity, right?

Most of these devices, like Jawbone’s Up and Fitbit, have a closed sensor system; however, opening these sensors to third-party developers holds enormous potential. We’re just now beginning to see the glimmer of the benefits as some of the major electronics manufacturers like Microsoft and Samsung enter the space.

The new sensors on smartwatches and fitness bands will enable insight into a user’s heart rate, VO2 max, sympathetic nervous response, blood glucose level, EKG, temperature and more. We’re moving into a world where people will be wearing always-on body-monitoring systems. We’re standing at a frontier where we’re pulling laboratory science outside of the laboratory and creating a deluge of new data about human biometrics never before available.

This data fosters new insights and the development of new ecosystems allowing understanding of customers at a much more granular level and the ability to offer them new services. It started with time – arguably the sensor most taken for granted. With a timestamp we know “when” our users are writing us, using us and interacting.

Then GPS enabled “where,” permitting application companies to understand when and where a user was interacting. Applications and features that were built only off of GPS changed travel and advertising forever. The fingerprint sensor is helping us understand “who,” and companies are now also learning “what” users are doing.

Now that we know who, what, when and where users are, the next evolution of sensor data that’s extremely exciting is “how.” How are users doing? How are they feeling? Forget glance-ability and notifications. Forget NFC and payments. The most interesting part of these new devices isn’t the front, but rather the back where the sensors are located. This is where the new health and fitness devices will change the world.

We think of these devices as health monitors, but what if I turned them on while you were watching Netflix? What if I turned them on when you crossed a geo fence into a Starbucks? What if I monitored your biometric responses while you’re on Facebook looking at different profiles?

This opens up a completely new field of biometric insight related to applications, experiences, entertainment and more. We’ll be able to provide levels of biometric awareness to our applications, our developers and our friends. This enables powerful levels of emotional acuity and intervention, and it will affect everything we do, from entertainment to general consumption to dating. I refer to this as biometric marketing or emotional marketing.

Imagine a world where entertainment choices are built around your emotional preference, where you would know before going into a movie or watching a TV show if it fit the pattern for your emotional preference. Movie studios still use pen and paper responses from test audiences, but imagine if no one cared what a critic said because they knew how they felt.

 

Imagine a gaming world where Zynga has direct access to your emotional response to a specific stimulus. They could now create the perfect skinner-box experience with perfectly random reward schedules on a per-user, per-emotional state basis.

Daily interaction with others becomes much more interesting if we begin to allow others to know how we’re feeling. Imagine that OKCupid leverages biometric profiling to align similar emotional response patterns. Or imagine going on a date where both parties agree to share their biometric data after the date. You’d be able to read their arousal profile and understand that they weren’t as into you as you were into them – all without an awkward phone call.

Or on the other end, you might see a spike when they saw you and a pleasant glowing interaction through the night. We don’t know what love at first sight looks like biometrically, but maybe we’ll know soon.

Everyday consumption changes, as well. Every store you walk into would be able to monitor your emotional state on a per-store, per-employee, per-interaction level. They may be able to determine peak stress hours and adjust their service accordingly.

One of the largest and most impacted segments will be advertising. Companies will no longer be bidding on Jennifer, but instead on Happy Jennifer or Sad Jennifer or whatever emotional state aligns best with their product offering.

It feels predatory, and it is. It’s advertising’s job to take advantage of us. However, we’ll evolve ways of combating it, called emotional fences. Applications and user-centric, emotional defense companies will emerge that let users build emotional fences around themselves during what they perceive as vulnerable states. If you’re angry or if you’ve had a terrible day, maybe you’re not “in the mood” to have a happy advertisement shoved down your throat. The emotional fence will block these unwanted ads.

This emotional fencing works for both parties. Think about an extremely frustrating day that you’ve recently had, and then think about all of the advertising that fills that day. If Procter & Gamble has a new Tide ad featuring happy families, smiling children and upbeat music, this ad won’t likely resonate well with consumers in a sad or depressed state. This emotional fencing would permit brands to shield themselves from wasted advertisements for key demographics that aren’t in the proper mental state to accept them.

This is a new frontier of data. We’ll be delving into insights never before possible with every heartbeat and every sympathetic response, contributing data to new correlations and building a higher resolution of not only human health, but also human behavior and biological response.

Depending on what report you read, as many as 285 million fitness devices will be on human bodies by 2018, with a 40 percent CAGR. Smartwatch sales are predicted to grow from 1 million devices in 2013 to 92 million devices in 2018. It’s not a matter of if this will happen, but when. Many companies are already opening up their sensor sets so that developers can begin to access this never-before-seen biological data.

With this access, the current state of commoditized wearables is about to change in a big way. We should expect more from our devices than just tracking our steps and sleep. It’s been a slow start, but we’re standing at the precipice, cracking the door into biometric marketing and creating a new realm of opportunities and insights.

Who knows? A year from now, I may be able to tell not only that you read this article, but also how you felt reading it.

More TechCrunch

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

13 hours ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

15 hours ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer…

With the end of Workplace, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the enterprise

X, formerly Twitter, turned TweetDeck into X Pro and pushed it behind a paywall. But there is a new column-based social media tool in town, and it’s from Instagram Threads.…

Meta Threads is testing pinned columns on the web, similar to the old TweetDeck

As part of 2024’s Accessibility Awareness Day, Google is showing off some updates to Android that should be useful to folks with mobility or vision impairments. Project Gameface allows gamers…

Google expands hands-free and eyes-free interfaces on Android