Jan 5, 201712:35 PMLegal Login
with Mindi Giftos
Don’t brush off the legal considerations of the ‘smartification’ of consumer products
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As shown on the previous page, instead of just making and selling a regular toothbrush, the manufacturer of the smart toothbrush must now be in the “data” business. Product manufacturers have always looked for ways to obtain consumer feedback on their products and, at a fundamental level, the “smart” toothbrush involves consumers trading usage data from a device for a tangible benefit, such as improving the outcome of the product. In my case, this benefit will hopefully be cleaner teeth, improved oral health, and long-term reduction in dental fees. Further, these smart devices provide a much more comprehensive and effective way to collect consumer data than ever before, as most consumers do not take the time to complete product surveys or provide feedback, but seemingly have no problem allowing a product to collect data while it is in use.
This data is invaluable to the toothbrush manufacturer as they are able to offer improved and individualized results using real-time data collected through the consumer’s actual use of the smart product. However, it may be the data collected from all users collectively that is the most valuable to the manufacturer, as they will have the ability to use this user data to continually innovate and improve the product. This broad and active collection, review, and analysis of usage data will most definitely increase the speed of innovation and progress, not only in the toothbrush industry, but also across all industries as the expansion of smart consumer products continues throughout the world.
The evolution of traditional consumer electronics or devices into smart devices offers numerous benefits to manufacturers and consumers, but will also result in the assumption of additional overhead, legal obligations, and risk on the manufacturers, as well as loss of privacy to the user. Thus, it is important to seek out advisors who have a grasp on how all of these issues work together in order to make the transition into smart devices successful, while exposing the manufacturer to as little additional risk as possible.
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