Harnessing the Power of Feedback Loops
By Thomas Goetz
Goetz mentioned the example of radar sensors being set up across towns. The sensors attach to a big digital readout announcing “Your Speed.” As a result drivers slowed an average of 14 percent. I know this happened in the town I grew up in and the results were similar. He addresses the term “feedback loop” and explains that data, presented to people about their driving actions makes it have an emotionally factor that sticks with people. They immediately see consequence and as a result change their action. Goetz mentions Albert Bandura’s concept of self-efficacy. Bandura believed that the more we believe we can meet a goal, the more likely we will do so. Sensors can help solve problems and capture behavioral data. Ultimately Goetz explains that sensors allow people to “set and achieve better-defined, more ambitious goals and curb destructive behaviors, replacing them with positive actions.” This is an optimistic view and I support the idea because people need to recognize their shortcomings and by sensors pointing them out they can change their behavior.
Shwetak Patel invented technology that provides remote care for the elderly. He used a stack of algorithms that could differentiate household appliances used for cooking, washing, etc. By measuring resource consumption in the home society is encouraged to change their excessive usage of energy. We all can work on conserving water, gas and electricity. The example of the GlowCap really grabbed my full attention. I saw first hand how it was hard for my grandparents to remember their medications daily and keep track of what they took. This invention is remarkable. The GlowCap goes on top of the pill bottle and is a continuous feedback loop encouraging patients to take their medications. The information is delivered unobtrusively but noticeably and family can even be texted if the blinking light is not enough, or small beeping sounds. This is a great tool that I’m sure would be very useful in nursing homes and for all elderly patients.