In the latest development of blending technology with unusual items, First Response has released a Bluetooth enabled pregnancy test and app under the branding Pregnancy PRO Test. Though launched in January, the product still seems to have limited distribution and many question the need to link this basic DIY medical tool with an app. Many have even raised significant privacy concerns about the test.
Pushing Design Limits
One of the major trends behind medical technology today is increased design freedom deriving from a range of engineering solutions. Lightweight, yet high quality materials, small electronics, and other similar developments allow companies to develop products that push the limits of traditional design. Inserting Bluetooth into a pregnancy test certainly falls under this umbrella.
By linking the pregnancy test to an app, First Response aims to cultivate a complete experience, a pregnancy journey, under the direction of the program. Whether the woman taking the test is hoping for a positive or negative result, First Response is determined to offer the necessary resources going forward. And of course, the app aims to treat all outcomes sensitively, a challenge in the fraught world of the pregnancy test.
Withstanding The Wait
Pregnancy tests don’t take very long. Indeed, they typically provide results in about three minutes – but if you’re the one taking the test, those three minutes can be some of the longest of your life. To fill that time, the Pregnancy PRO Test first establishes that your test stick is working properly by syncing the stick with the app and asks a few key questions about what the woman hopes so it can gauge its response.
While you wait, the app will also play music, share fertility trivia, or link to videos. When the wait is over, those who hoped for and received a positive result are congratulated and offered resources for making a medical appointment and due date calculations, while those who received an unwanted negative result are offered tips on how to get pregnant.
For those receiving an unwanted positive result, the app proceeds with greater caution, and it’s unclear what resources it provides at this time. Indeed, since choices such as pregnancy termination and adoption require thorough guidance, it’s likely that the Pregnancy PRO Test has little to offer. This may be wise since, as organizations like The Adoption Alliance observe, education is a vital part of the adoption process – and that education shouldn’t take place via an app.
Many people have responded with skepticism to the need or value of a Bluetooth-enabled pregnancy test, but perhaps the most resonant concerns come from those discussing potential privacy issues raised by the app.
To use the app on an Android device, for example, the permissions granted go far beyond those necessary for the app to do its job. The app is given permission to read your contacts, access call information, alter storage, read your calendar, and even send emails from the calendar. This seems to go well beyond necessary access.
Considering the sensitivity of pregnancy information, the ability to attach your pregnancy test to your mobile device and the Internet should raise concerns. Most doctors recommend not disclosing a pregnancy beyond your immediate family before three months due to the unfortunate commonality of miscarriages during early pregnancy. Attaching tests to an app, then, makes it more likely that women may accidentally or intentionally share information that would otherwise be kept private.
First Response made it to the market with an app first, but that doesn’t mean it’s a product the market is ready for. Additionally, the Bluetooth-enabled test is about $11 more – a lot to pay for features most women can easily do without.