Author: Ewa Józefkowicz
What is the future of our wellbeing in a tech-saturated world? It’s a question that’s been plaguing us since the start of the internet revolution and a concern that continues to grow with the advent of new social media channels and news stories about screen addiction. We’ve all read coverage about the negative effects of technology on our mental and physical health — its contribution to our reduced physical activity, the devastating impacts of trolling, the spread of unrealistic body image ideals and much more.
Yet, the bulk of recent research states that digital innovation in the coming decade will produce more help than harm in people’s lives. According to a Pew Research Study, almost half of the experts polled believed that technology will have a positive impact on human life in comparison to just 33% who disagreed. Why? The examples are countless. Below, we highlight just a few.
- Wearable devices
According to a recent YouGov survey, the number of people using wearable devices has risen by 15% in the past two years, and this is a trajectory that is likely to continue. Importantly, in the same study, respondents stated that health issues were highest on the list of things that they would like to measure using their wearable. These included the ability to track pulse (57%), detect calorie intake (46%), assess overall levels of fitness (52%) and provide stress measurements (44%). Now, a number of wearable providers including Polar, PIP, Fitbit and of course the Apple watch, enable us to do exactly those things, while at the same time helping to combat the important problem of obesity.
2. Early diagnosis of disease
We all know of technology as a force for improved diagnosis of major diseases and there are countless ways in which this is happening across the world right now. Last year, the UK government announced a pioneering new data health programme as part of its Industrial strategy, which would enable diseases to be detected even before people experienced symptoms. In addition, there are tools such as Altoida, which focuses on brain health and early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Interestingly, it uses an augmented reality framework that allows testing of complex everyday functions in a gamified and fun way. The future is likely to lead to further ease of diagnosis and resulting treatment of preventable diseases.
3. The continued rise of flexible and remote work
Over the past decade, flexible and remote working has been embraced by firms around the globe, from small start-ups to large, multinational corporations. Whilst some point out the dangers of blurring the boundary between home and work, it has been generally accepted that such flexibility yields benefits to both the employer and the employee. It’s certainly a culture that works well for us here at 10Clouds. Google Hangouts, Skype for Business, and a whole host of other tools, enable speedy, face-to-face connections, wherever in the world you happen to be.
According to recent research by SmallBizGenius, companies allowing remote work have 25% lower employee turnover those that don’t, while 76% of workers would be more willing to stay with their current employer if they could work flexible hours.
4. Improved accessibility for previously excluded groups
At 10Clouds, we believe that the power of technology in improving accessibility is limitless. The CTO of one of our major clients, Trust Stamp, recently spoke about the multiple uses of his company’s AI powered authentication technology — including in the sphere of humanitarian and development services. We know that many people in the developing world lack access to card payment and other facilities because they don’t own any personal identification. Trust Stamp is changing that — its biometric recognition technology means that a non-PII identifier can be stored on a card, with their owner not even having to speak the same language as the service-provider. Importantly, such personal identity cards can even operate without internet connectivity, which is sporadic in many such areas. As a result, this group is now able to openly access healthcare services.
We know that currently over a billion people globally have some form of a disability and there are a number of organisations working on digital solutions to improve accessibility for them. Just one such company is My Human Hit, which helps bring together engineers, programmers, and other technically-skilled people with people with disabilities. Another is Rogervoice, which facilitates communication for deaf people through an app that produces a live transcription during phone calls in more than 100 different languages. Users receive typed text of what the other person is saying.
5. Mindfulness on the go
Popular apps such as HeadSpace,Stoic and Unmind have helped to remove the stigma around mental health, and enabled users to access support with stress and anxiety in an easy manner on a daily basis. TalkSpace is another digital platform which enables you to speak to a trusted and qualified counsellor or therapist over chat. The door is always open, so you don’t even have to set aside a dedicated period of time during the day.
It seems that the powers of technology are limitless when it comes to supporting the wellbeing revolution. But, going back to the previously mentioned Pew Research Study, an overwhelming 92% of experts polled recommend that government policies, tech company practices, and user behaviors need to change in order to enhance the benefits of digital technology. We’re going to do our bit, by introducing a program of wellbeing at 10Clouds.
The next steps in ensuring a bright future relationship for wellbeing and tech, should be focused on ensuring that as many people as possible know how to access and use these digital tools effectively.
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