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Unveiling Target's Remarkable Ability to Predict a Teen Girl's Pregnancy...Could Your iPhone Possess Similar Capabilities for Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Posted by Florida Spine and Injury | Feb 1, 2024 10:52:11 AM

The amount of data that is being collected on a given day in our lives is quite frankly staggering. Retailers have perfected the science of data mining to predict purchasing patterns, trends, and apparently even pregnancy.

Target is one of the most sophisticated retailers when it comes to the analysis of consumer shopping habits, largely because of the reams of data generated by it's app many shoppers use. One of the predictions Target data scientists learned to make was pregnancy, as this is a very lucrative stage of life for retailers given that there are loads of purchases that are now a necessity, and price sensitivity is typically lower than normal.

For example, lots of people buy lotion, but Target noticed that women on the baby registry were buying larger quantities of unscented lotion around the beginning of their second trimester. They also noted that sometime in the first 20 weeks, pregnant women loaded up on supplements like calcium, magnesium and zinc. Many shoppers purchase soap and cotton balls, but when someone suddenly starts buying lots of scent-free soap and extra-big bags of cotton balls, in addition to hand sanitizers and washcloths, it signals they could be getting close to their delivery date.

All of came to a head a few years ago for Target when a store manager in Minneapolis was confronted by an angry father.

“My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”

The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again.

On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”

This brings me to a study I read that was recently published in the journal, Nature. The study discovered that the results of neuropsychological testing could be predicted by analyzing 7 days of smartphone usage (you can check out the study by clicking here). The authors claim that, "preliminary results suggest that passive measures from smartphone use could be a continuous ecological surrogate for laboratory-based neuropsychological assessment."

While I don't think this will replace neuropsych testing anytime soon, it is fascinating to see that how a smart phone is used gives equivalent data to measuring executive function, dexterity, trail making, and cognitive function with sophisticated testing. There are also software programs in the works that can assess cognitive function via analyzing typing and speech patterns, so this is just the tip of the iceberg for the biomarkers we'll soon be able to assess.

With the array of testing available at Ethos we can't predict pregnancy, but we do have a robust amount of data that can be reviewed with VNG, EEG with ERP, oculomotor tracking, balance testing, and much more. If you or someone you know would benefit from TBI diagnostics, TBI rehab or therapy, or neurology evaluation at any of our locations across Florida, please reach out via email at drwalker@flspineandinjury.com or you can call directly at 904-616-1284.

Topics: TBI

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