Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I am pleased to appear before the committee to share with you the expertise that Mirego has developed in defining and developing products for our clients. Mirego's activities are principally in the area of mobility. We create mobile applications for our clients and for their users, both web-based and native.
Mirego's history involves a focus on mobility and its associated products. As a product designer, Mirego is centred on the interests of our clients and their users. Often, it is we who have to find a balance between users seeking to get the most value and simplicity from the way in which the products can be used, and our clients seeking a return on investment, in terms of either finances or involvement. As designers, we, of course, are seeking to create innovative products of the highest possible quality.
Since the arrival of smartphones and their constant connection with the Internet, the way in which people communicate and work has been transformed. It affects the telecommunications industry and is now a feature of other industries. The media have felt the impact on their business models, notably in terms of the changes in how and when their content is consumed. Insurers too have had to change the way in which they accept claims and evaluate risk in order to stay in tune with their clients' new habits in using smartphones.
The constant Internet access that mobile devices make possible is only one facet of the changes they bring. Indeed, a number of other transformations are imminent. Principally, they come as a result of the more recent generations of devices that, comparatively speaking, have more computing capacity than the computers of three or five years ago.
This computing capacity, which is remarkable in such small devices, comes as the result of sensors that allow the capture of a huge amount of data about the environment where the device is located. This involves a new way of gathering data and a greater ability to process the data in real time. For example, access to the GPS data of a large number of mobile devices already allows companies like Google and Apple to look at the traffic on the roads and alert users to various points of congestion. Similarly, a startup company is now trying to use the altimeters in millions of smartphones to measure barometric pressure in many places in real time. This will per se improve meteorological models and result in more accurate forecasts.
In the same way, the accelerometers in smartphones let the owners know about the number of steps they have taken and the total distance they have covered without them having to capture the information or disclose the way in which it is used. By using several sensors simultaneously, a software developer can now deduce a lot of information about the situation in which users find themselves. Some kinds of software, like Google Now on an Android phone, can find out where users have parked their cars without them having recorded that information.
The increasing numbers of sensors that mobile devices can have, directly connected with the device, or via accessories like smart watches, combined with the devices' almost permanent connectivity, has already changed the way in which we conduct our activities and the way in which we gather data. This is about more than the sensors in mobile devices, it is also that they are constantly at our side and are now the repository of very personal information about us.
In the past year, new information about the lifestyle and the health of users has become available to application developers. This information, which is only available to the applications if the users permit it, is very personal indeed. It is also extremely valuable for a number of industries. We need only think about medical research, which, through the applications, can now access a good number of health indicators, including how treatments are being followed.
Data such as heart rate, blood pressure, the level and intensity of physical activity were previously difficult to gather and required the user to take notes and report the data over long periods of time. Today, that data can be gathered almost automatically, or by using reminders. The data can be transmitted to researchers almost instantaneously. It can be shown that, in recent months, it has been possible to conduct medical studies using smartphones by working with research centres in the United States and publishing in ResearchKit.
Mobile devices at the centre of information collection can not only move research forward by collecting more specific data more often, but they can also permit daily monitoring of patients and their treatment protocols.
It is well understood that, to achieve that kind of transformation, private information must be shared. With time, we are seeing that sharing sensitive information between services and users is becoming more and more acceptable for the latter. A Gallup poll in the United States shows clearly, however, that members of generation Y still expect the information they are sharing to be private, despite the various leaks of confidential information that have occurred in the media in recent years. It goes without saying that it is in the interests of designers and service operators to keep the data confidential and, at the same time, to provide users with the greatest value possible for the data with which they are entrusted.
The fact that the general public has access to such highly developed mobile devices makes for business models that were impossible until very recently. For example, if the customers of a car insurance company have smartphones, the company can measure the quality of their driving and more precisely evaluate their risk levels without having to spy on them or to use tests to evaluate their driving. The insurer's production costs are greatly reduced as a result. In return for sharing the data, the customers can get a rate that more fairly reflects their driving.
The real and transformational changes that mobility can bring with it require a greater tolerance for risk and an ability to see beyond the novelty effect. In the same way as office computers transformed our way of working at all levels, the ubiquity of mobile devices will bring major changes. As a result, we must give innovating companies the manoeuvring room they need in order to explore and perfect new ideas and to experiment with new products. This must all be done by protecting them from regulatory and business decisions that are motivated by the fear of change, by a lack of tolerance for risk, or by pressure exerted by those who are affected by the change.
At Mirego, we work with clients who are looking to bring about profound changes. That requires us to be visionaries. Daring to innovate, or even to reinvent what already exists, in order to provide a remarkable improvement that can change people's lives requires experimentation, research and a great deal of creativity. These technologies allow us to do just that; we believe that we have only just begun.
Mr. Chair, thank you for inviting me to testify before the committee today.