I am an early adopter. I admit it. If there is something out there that I can use to modify my life to make it quicker, simpler, better etc… I will try it out. Of course 99% of the time it’s not exactly what it’s cracked up to be, but the 1% surprises are great enough to keep at it. In that vein, I have been using wearables and increasing the Internet of Things around me for about 2 years now.
So far, for me, the use cases of the Internet of Things and wearables are loaded with these 1% good surprise examples. I think Google agreed when it purchased Nest or launched Glass and yes, there’s more to it than that in their decision.
For me, end user person, the convenience that the Internet of Things bring is very attractive to me. For example: Having my home thermostats remotely accessible and more intelligently operated is a savings and a quality of life upgrade. I am also assisted in my work outs and calorie tracking with my Nike Fuel Band/Fitbit/Jawbone. What’s helpful is that actual tracking of the calories or activity. Although I can certainly have estimated it myself, I didn’t have to make time to do it, nor forget to do it, nor really do anything special. It’s debatable what that is worth monetarily but the point is the capability is useful and in technology surely you’ve noticed the trend for the economics to eventually get in line with reality. So that brings me to the assumption that someday, it would be useful to have many things about me that did similar automations. $100-$300 per small device is not sustainable at this point since these gadgets are in their developmental infancy (not specialized/ruggedized enough, etc…) but they will be.
Firstly, I’m not going to go into an exhaustive list, just moving forward with this example, the data collected represents another opportunity altogether. Now if my medical professional could be given the data when necessary, they could passively and hopefully proactively participate in my health. My example is my Dr. could get all my activity band/sensor data over time and use this in making better diagnosis of my ailments and guide me on some health improving advice. That would be a huge social change because instead of break-fix medical assistance- under duress, I could avoid downtime and improve my quality of life. So, practical example: why wait to have the heart attack when the warning signs are starting to come up at this point in my life based on my daily telemetry. This is not so far in the future. Some companies, independently, are holding different bits of that solution today. We just need integration.
Check this usage out courtesy of MIT Technology Review.. then think forward to moving that to a wearable-always on Internet of Things device:
Further Down the Road: Qualcomm XPrize
I’m a bit of a Trekkie too, and this X Prize really gets my imagination flowing. From the Qualcomm site:
A $10 MILLION COMPETITION TO BRING HEALTHCARE TO THE PALM OF YOUR HAND
Imagine a portable, wireless device in the palm of your hand that monitors and diagnoses your health conditions. That’s the technology envisioned by this competition, and it will allow unprecedented access to personal health metrics. The end result: Radical innovation in healthcare that will give individuals far greater choices in when, where, and how they receive care.
So that technology is not here yet however you can easily see where this is all going. Healthcare + commodity hardware (wearables/smart phones etc..) + analytics = big change in capability and economics.
Productivity and Economic Benefits
It’s clear to me also that there’s a lot of economic benefit to reducing waste/inefficiency. To make my medical vision come true, the last mile, the medical professionals, need to get more productive in order to serve a greater number of people simultaneously and consistently.
Need convincing? Go see your medical professional- start your timer when you set the appointment and stop it when you are leaving the office.
In order for the medical professionals to be more efficient, they need automation. Some companies like Pristine are starting to offer automation that could make this a reality. Pristine has a wearables solution for medical professionals that could free up a lot of locked up efficiency in their daily schedule. That productivity gain may be key in proactive healthcare for me.
Furthermore, beyond healthcare, all of our field workers may too benefit from the Internet of Things. How much easier is it to have something like Google Glass to supplement tasks with relevant data or knowledge or Microsoft Hololens to augment reality to go further and assist in performing complex tasks. This is really exciting and it’s very real!!
Elimination of all of that wasted time and money, fumbling with gear like laptops, bring cash sending A grade engineers to every site…
…freeing up all that money and time. whoa. That’s useful.
Enabling This Revolution
A number of things are going to be solved in order to get to this level of productivity improvement promised by the Internet of Things/wearables. First on my mind is the backhaul- or the communications networking required to ensure data/control flow. Today’s networks are not exactly stellar and by adding billions of devices, we are surely going to hit a brick wall.
Technologies like SON will be essential in making this happen- not optional. Further the security issues need to be urgently addressed. There are small picture items like ensuring data at rest/in flight encryption as well as the big picture ones like the whole privacy strategy and rights and expectations of individuals.
Today’s commercial network operators could play a key role in this future but it’s up to them to prepare their networks and create more of an open platform approach to encourage this activity, else they will be bypassed by disruptors.
Anyhow, I’m jazzed up about the future of wearables and the Internet of Things and have some plans that I can’t wait to get to….