Kids learn independence as they actively explore the outside world. Their safety is always the biggest concern of parents. How might we design an IoT device that keeps track of kid's location and notifies parents when kids are in potential danger?
We first started to brainstorm ideas on IoT related critical issues. After voting, we landed on the topic around human's bonds with IoT devices, especially in a parent-children scenario. We designed a critical object called SafeWatch. It is a smartwatch designed for young kids. SafeWatch generates the GPS data of the one who is wearing it, works with a map system, and sends alerts to parents when their kids are in dangerous zones.
The main idea was that in the near future parents are likely to have troubles because of their deep bonds with SafeWatch, which leads to their increasing anxiety. SafeWatch works pretty well at the beginning as it alerts parents when the kid is in potential danger. And therefore parents can save their children promptly. However, as parents' dependence on SafeWatch grows, they believe its signals without hesitation. So when SafeWatch sends wrong messages to parents, they are so stressed out that they even fail to recognize their children walking by.
Michael has a 12-year-old son named Johnny. On Johnny's birthday, Michael bought him the trendiest product, SafeWatch, an advanced IoT product that can track and show the location of the person wearing it. Now, Johnny wears SafeWatch everyday.
At first, Michael was very happy with SafeWatch. It sent text notifications to him when Johnny safely arrived at his friend's house or when Johnny was in a dangerous location. Michael could easily know Johnny's location and can take prompt actions to make sure he was safe.
However, SafeWatch's positives no longer outweigh the negatives. Sometimes, SafeWatch will misidentify Johnny's location if he is near places he shouldn't be, like bars and clubs, and send Michael notifications when Johnny is actually next door. Sometimes, when SafeWatch's battery dies, Michael freaks out because he cannot see Johnny's real-time location. Finally, when Johnny's SafeWatch is stolen, Michael becomes overwhelmed with anxiety as he sees "Johnny" going places he should never be. As these events pile on, Michael sees himself becoming more and more obsessed with knowing exactly where Johnny is every second of the day. However, he can't separate himself from SafeWatch because he feels like that would mean sacrificing Johnny's safety.
As IoT becomes more and more the norm, consumers will become more excited about the prospect of having access to live data. Consumers will be able to monitor their homes, their children, their cars, their ovens, the status of their laundry, all from remote locations. However, there arrives a moment where the information provided is too much to handle. But because it IS available and, technically speaking, it IS helpful, consumers will feel a need to be responsible and adopt the technology in the hopes of being a more aware individual.
The problem we have uncovered and we caution against is the availability of too much information. When a parent can constantly track where their kids are, there is a decent likelihood that they will. This information overload will lead to stress and anxiety that did not exist before IoT.