Are you trying to remember to drink more water, bicycle more, take shorter showers, or take your vitamins? Or are you constantly monitoring your kids to see whether they're brushing, flossing, or putting the toilet seat down?
Brian Krejcarek, founder of GreenGoose, thinks the solution may be peppering your home with a collection of small, inexpensive wireless sensors. The sensors are capable of detecting things like movement, sound, or temperature, and they report their findings to an egg-shaped base station that plugs into your wireless router so that it can send data to the Internet. Paste a sensor onto your daughter's trumpet case, and it can track how long she practices. Another on the dog's leash can let you know whether your spouse actually took Sparky out for his 6 a.m. constitutional.
"They're able to measure human behaviors when we interact with objects, whether it's getting on your bike or using your toothbrush," says Krejcarek. When I met him earlier this week, he was wearing a few prototype sensors around his neck, at the end of lanyards that looked like they might ordinarily carry employee badges.
Krejcarek came to New England from Portland, Oregon, and over the summer he participated in the Betaspring program for start-ups in Providence. He's now working in the Cambridge Innovation Center, and is in the midst of raising a few hundred thousand dollars of angel funding to get GreenGoose's sensors and base stations into production (he hopes to be able to start selling them next year; the price isn't yet determined).
"Just about everyone has a lifestyle goal they're trying to achieve, like getting more exercise," Krejcarek says. "We want to help people achieve those intentions." Offering a demo in a Kendall Square coffee shop, Krejcarek shows how picking up a toothbrush or opening a bottle of vitamins instantly transmits an update to a Web site, generating a feed of status updates that looks like something you'd find on Facebook: "Earned 12 lifestyle points by brushing teeth for 12 seconds at 5:50 PM." (See below.)
"We'd like to see ourselves as a kind of Twitter for behaviors and activities," Krejcarek says. "But without requiring you to do some extra step, like tap the information into your cell phone to let it know that you just did something."
Krejcarek acknowledges that the GreenGoose concept is somewhat similar to Fitbit, a San Francisco start-up that makes a wearable exercise sensor. "But we're targeting more of a mainstream audience than they are," he says, "and we're planning to deploy a lot of these sensors through partners," like a drugstore chain, health insurer, or bottled water company. (Krejcarek isn't yet working with CVS, I should note; this is just a demo page.)
He says GreenGoose isn't focused (at least right now) on dangling discounts or rewards to motivate its users to achieve their goals. "It's more about the intrinsic benefits of doing something that's good for you," he says.
About Scott Kirsner
Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.
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