What is this “Internet of Things?” (IoT)
You may have heard someone mention the “Internet of Things” in conversation or in an article and skipped right past it. The internet has been around in its modern form since the 1990’s and although it is constantly evolving, the way we think about it hasn’t changed all that much. With the addition of smart phones, watches, and even smart household appliances; the reality about the internet and the communication that is utilizing it has become more complex.
The “Internet of Things” refers to any device that can connect to the internet. The IoT can be people to people, people to device, or device to device communications via the internet. Or as defined by the U.S. National Intelligence Council: “The “Internet of Things” is the general idea of things, especially everyday objects, that are readable, recognizable, locatable, addressable, and controllable via the Internet – whether via RFID, wireless LAN, wide-area network, or other means.” Traditionally this included tablets, phones, and desktop computers; but now can be sensors of an automated home, health sensors in/on patients, even elevators or sensors in flooring. With technology advancing in such a way as to reduce the CPU, space, and power consumption required by these devices, the applications have become widespread and will continue to grow.
What does this mean for the health industry? Already several devices are out that will track your steps taken, calories burned, and heart rate. These devices can be tied in to a wireless connection and may eventually monitor your physical health close enough to alert an outside party of your condition. Medical staff may have the ability to remotely monitor pacemakers or the nutrition of elderly patients. Sensors in smart clothing now monitor athlete’s to alert of heat stroke and dehydration, similar technology applied to patients in hospitals could improve the general well being of patients across the board.
The possibilities of the IoT in our lives is endless. We may not see an impact over night, but the utilization of smart technology in our lives could have huge benefits. Smart cars can detect in advance if a traffic accident has occurred along your route of travel. Smart elevators can learn what floors have the highest traffic and minimize wait times. Our environment can be monitored as well as infrastructures such as bridges and roadways to increase safety. Although the utilization of these technologies will take more testing and resources before they can be implemented, their impact will be seen all around us.
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