Part II: Product Integration or Transhumanism?
Who Needs a Smart-Phone When You Have a Smart-Arm?
The quick cycle of awe, adoption, and finally, ubiquity of new technology has propelled the usage of Body-Product integration from a crazy concept to numerous tangible products. Companies such as MC10 and Mielke Product Design have taken this a step further, developing technologies that are literally implanted into our physical selves.
MC10's Stamp-On Circuits and Jim Mielke's Digital Tattoo Interface (DTI) are on the frontier of internal Body-Product integration. The DTI, which combines the 'beauty of a tattoo with the convenience of a cell phone,'? is a microscopically thin Bluetooth enabled device, implanted just below the skin of the forearm with a light-up screen resembling tattoo ink. It is, as the inventor Jim Mielke announced, "waterproof and powered by pizza."
So It Turns Me Into a Robot?
The details of how it works are slightly less beautiful, once it is inserted below the skin through a small incision, it is then connected to main arteries, which convertblood glucose and oxygen into the electricity it runs on. It was ahead of its time, debuting at Greener Gadgets Design Competition 2008, but clearly failed to gain traction in time for Doomsday 2012.
The upside to this device? You may never have to search for the remote control again. The downside? You are one step closer to becoming a remote control yourself (or at least like Lepht Anonym, advocate for practical transhumanism).
The Future of Robot Humanoids, or a Giant Step for Humankind?
'We decided it was time humans stop conforming to electronics. So we're making electronics conform to us.'? 'MC10 Inc., the company behind Stamp-On Circuits
While the DTI, which makes Google Glass look like a flip-phone, has yet to come into full product fruition, the recently debuted Stamp-On Circuit is reminiscent of its epidermally-integrated technology. Like a temporary tattoo, this fully functional, flexible circuit board is stuck on skin like a rubber stamp and can provide product integration that Nike+ Fuel Band could only dream of. In fact, MC10's Stamp-On Circuit already has its first consumer product partnership with Reebok's Checklight, which monitors brain activity to diagnose concussions during sports.
The inventor of this technology, John Rogers of University of Illinois, has an optimistic vision for the Stamp-On Circuit's future. It has the potential to create personalized healthcare never before possible, with technology able to actively augment organ health, wrap around the heart, map brain function, or even someday prevent seizures. In his own words, it will 'make humans more superhuman.'?
The Future of Body-Product Integration: Implications for Marketers
While these healthcare breakthroughs lay in stark contrast to the dystopian reality some will imagine, these developments also have implications for marketers to consider. If the future of the smart phone really is on the body itself, intrusive mobile advertising becomes much more personal. It also brings to light how willing society has become to allow technology into the core of our existence. Permission marketing becomes necessary, and brands that violate privacy and personal space will be received more negatively than ever before. However, the closeness to consumers this technology can provide may be too tempting to leave alone.
The Ultimate Opt-In
As marketers, when considering this trend in products that allow users to give up their very bodies for the promise of health, we must keep in mind that with great trust comes great responsibility. Combine these products with the new trend in UI, where devices adapt to your skill level. Imagine the possibilities'integrated machines that not only adapt their interface to your skin but understand us better than we do ourselves. These devices will be able to adapt to our needs, thoughts, and rushes of endorphins. Whether this sounds like utopia or a Brave New World, or if these products seem like a distant reality, they are closer than you think'so watch out for them.