According to the USC Body Computing website, “The CBC is an innovation incubation center that commercializes wireless health products.” Partnered with the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation and venture capitalists, they make products that mobilize, digitalize, and gamify health.
“Who will be the Facebook of medicine? Who will be the Angry Birds of healthcare?” – Dr. Leslie Saxon
According to the app description on the iTunes store, the objective states: “We would like to learn how social media and sharing biometrics might relate. We are studying how sharing heart rate enhances or changes the experience of photo sharing and social community. Even though we ask to share health data, including daily activity, this is not a study about physical fitness or wellbeing.” If there is value in collecting the sharing rate of photos and the heart rate of the sharer, this certainly seems like a streamlined way to analyze that data. If biometrics can augment the social media experience, that could lead to other investigations in the realm of photo sharing. Could Tweeting be a therapeutic way to lower blood pressure? Could Facebook burn calories? Location services could link a user’s biometrics to their specific setting or environment. (Disneyland might not be the happiest place on earth?)
While it is uncertain to what extent USC will be using your biometrics data to further their research, the data shared doesn’t seem that much more private than your normal pedometer on your phone. And in the context of a fun and engaging social media platform, your data is gathered with your consent, so nothing really feels that invasive. But then again, isn’t it interesting how much users are willing to forego their privacy for the sake of engaging socially online?