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My Body. My IP.

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Current, born-into-digital consumers understand what companies are doing with their data – they want in. George Cuevas, SweatWorks’ VP of Innovation, explains why we need to think differently about the use of our personal data.

Your body is pouring out data. With every wearable device, with every smartphone, with every app use, every second of every day, it’s sending data to companies who use and interpret that data as they choose. In short, your body’s data is being monetized. 

Meanwhile, the wellness sector relies on data to provide its service. And in fact, consumers demand it, as personalisation is no longer a bonus – it’s an expectation. In a world where there is a drive for autonomy over our own health and wellbeing and where technology is enabling this, how can we address the very real dilemma of our personal data creation and it’s protection?

Globally and across multiple industries there is a rising consumer demand to own our own data as people become aware of their data’s worth and increasingly value their privacy. The current system for all personalized wellbeing services, where people sign away the rights to their data, which is then collected and stored in different ways by different companies to different ends, is no longer working for the consumers. 

What we all share now is a disjointed data landscape, fraught with limitations. From platform to platform, as the data collection varies, there is inconsistency. The readings on one app differ from the readings on the next – they are read and interpreted differently, providing inconsistent outcomes. Consumers are required to input and sign up with the same information every time, creating a routinely frustrating experience – repeated actions all because each individual organization wants to own that information, which is often used not solely to improve user experience but to target promotions and grow their own data banks.  

Meanwhile, consumers are getting savvy to the ‘shiny new gimmick’ – they now expect that sheen. Collecting personal data just to serve up ‘personal suggestions’ is not enough of an incentive anymore. Consumers are reaching the understanding of how their data is being collected and used. They understand that they are continually acquiescing to hand over their personal data with no control or benefit from the exchange. Now they want the exchange to be mutually worthwhile. 

It’s time for a data paradigm shift.

Now, imagine a world where data is owned not by the companies, but by the individual. After all, the common factor in the data is the user, not the company. If the individual is the one that is housing and sharing their own data, all data has the same starting point. And that’s where the magic happens. No matter what wearable, what app, what equipment you’re looking at, all of the data is consistent – everybody’s reading the same heartbeat. 

For the consumer this single source of truth would be powerful. They would hold the key as to what information to share and when. They would give and retract usage permission of their data on the fly. Since they give the permission, all of a sudden everything useful to them would sync. They can move seamlessly from product to product and know that the data is reliable and trustworthy. Devices and systems talk to one another with little effort from the user’s part. Real outcomes can be achieved and measured consistently and all products can be working towards the same outcome: improving the users wellbeing. More importantly, their data is only being used in the moment they themselves need the service. The user would even be able to control how to monetize their own data and with whom. If Facebook wants to use my fitness data (with my permission) to sell ads, then I want to make sure I get compensated from the use of my personal IP.

Ultimately what is the outcome? Consumers would get a private, wellbeing space that is truly tailored to the individual. They get true security by owning and controlling their own data. And as an industry we get to make a real impact by putting the user first and investing in innovation with the user’s wellbeing in mind, not their data. 

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