Brooke Martin

Necessity is the Mother of Innovation

How a 15-year-old is changing the way we communicate.

Brooke Martin | iCPooch

As technology advances and enters every nuance of our daily lives, we have to wonder: What are the tradeoffs?

We’ve seen significant innovations in communication, education, transportation, medicine and global connectivity.

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People are connected to technology but disconnected from tactile human interaction.

But at the same time, technology has also distanced us from each other. How often do we actually have face-to-face conversations these days?

Let me explain. People are connected to technology but disconnected from the tactile experience of everyday human interaction and connectivity fundamental to life. We’ve lost something important.

It’s time to reconnect

I have a sister named Grace and three other sisters who also happen to be golden retrievers — Kayla, Zoey, and Noel.

Grace and I use our cellphones and computers to stay connected all day. We text, call and email each other to check in and see how the day is going. That’s where technology helps.

Brooke with Kayla (by Barb Chase)

Brooke with Kayla (by Barb Chase)

But it’s different with my other three sisters. I have to say goodbye to my furry family members every morning when I head off to school and don’t get to see them again until  I get home. I can’t just drop them a text message!

What was I to do?

They say necessity is the mother of invention. So when I was 12 years old, I came up with an idea for a device that would both allow someone to video chat with their dog and use their smartphone, tablet or computer to dispense treats.

I was one of 40 people (the lone non-adult) who pitched an innovative, new idea  at an event called StartUp Weekend in Spokane, Wash. I was lucky enough to receive the most votes and spent the next two days developing the concept with a group of professionals.

After the event, I built prototypes, contacted engineers, software developers, investors, anybody I thought could help.

Two years later, in July 2014, iCPooch went on sale.

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I knew my product could make a difference for other families who have to face this reality.

The response has been phenomenal. I’ve shared my innovation with the world through science and business competitions, national publications and television shows, such as “Shark Tank.”

[Also on Longitudes: Why Customer Service Begins with Empathy]

A better connection

I began to notice new applications for iCPooch.

My now-deceased grandmother, Barb, would have benefitted greatly from the technology.

Because of a a disease that affected her motor skills and cognition, my grandma couldn’t answer her telephone, much less navigate Facebook or initiate a video call.

iCPooch (by Steve Marryman)

iCPooch (by Steve Marryman)

It can be difficult for seniors to understand the ins and outs of technology, leaving them disconnected from their friends and family. I knew my product could make a difference for other families who have to face this reality.

So, in early 2016, we’ll launch our latest product, iCLovedOnes – a device that lets family members and caregivers visually interact with their loved ones and dispenses medication.

Whatever the reason, our aging loved ones too often forget to take their medicine. With this technology, seniors will take their meds – and stay connected to the outside world.

[Also on Longitudes: If You Can Imagine It, You Can Make It]

Tech makes us more human

Families are really busy today. There’s not always time for family dinner or a complete rundown of the day’s events. So how do we stay connected?

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Let’s use our gadgets to create better, more meaningful connections with each other.

It starts with technology.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Earlier, I suggested that technology was a barrier to human connection. But really, when deployed the right way, technology can bring us closer together.

Family members often live on the other side of the country, if not the world. That’s why it’s so easy to go weeks or even months without talking to the ones you love. I’ll be the first to admit that kids are often more interested in TV and social media than a talk with mom or dad about their day.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Let’s use our gadgets to create better, more meaningful connections with each other.

By doing so, we can rediscover the joy of human connection. goldbrown2

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Brooke Martin is the Founder of iCPooch. http://www.icpooch.com/about

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Reprinted with permission of Longitudes, the UPS blog devoted to the trends shaping the global economy.

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