The Internet of Things is evolving in two directions. While the first is about saving money, the second could actually save lives. For that to become true, devices need to be smart – and integrated.
A guest contribution from our partners at XITEE
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a curious thing: While we all have talked and written lots about it, it actually takes still some time to happen. Let me explain the challenges and chances of IoT through some examples focused around the medical sector.
When it comes to IoT, the biggest added value especially in the medical sector is in monitoring and maintenance through making devices smart. Adding a simple feature to log condition of the device means world to the maintenance issues. For instance, we have recently been building a solution that allows the manufacturer to monitor the devices remotely and provide customers maintenance when it is needed. Furthermore, they are able to prevent failures and if there are any the lead times for fixing the device are as short as possible. In the end, the disruption of business is very low which is critical especially in medical sector.
Devices become services
This is where we stand today. In the future, I expect IoT to help to develop the service approach massively. You can already buy a car (via operative leasing) or phone as a service and get it replaced when it gets old. IoT will make this approach way more efficient, especially when there are no fashion trends involved.
Let’s say you bought equipment for your practice as a service. Once you pay for the service, you want everything to be working fine all the time. But even the best machine in the world needs maintenance at some point and may break down sometimes. And that’s where IoT comes to play.
In the future, customers won’t care about anything concerning the maintenance and the availability of their device. The machines are maintained and replaced when and more importantly only when needed. This extensive knowledge about condition of the machines lowers costs significantly, because even the smallest disruption can be discovered and repaired before it leads to bigger issues and most likely a costlier repair. Not to forget, this approach is also highly ecological: Devices will be used until the actual end of their lifecycle.
Today it’s about money, tomorrow it’s about lives
But it is not only about counting dollars in your pocket. The second approach is about building smart environments of connected sensors and autonomous devices. In this case IoT can definitely save lives. Imagine that you can monitor all of your patients online. You can see heartrate, monitor breathing, even be aware of brain activity, make blood tests and put predictive analysis using big data on top. Your doctor could see all of this from his office; alarms can be triggered anytime something goes wrong.
IoT also renders visible on of today’s biggest challenges in IT – integration. Not only integration within IoT, but integration in general. Imagine that we can integrate medical records with the platform I described above. You could have all the records sorted and prioritized by a tap of your finger.
Besides making devices smart, integration is the biggest drawback of IT services today. The data is out there, but it is divided through too many services, environments and interfaces. IoT means making quite simple devices smart and integrating them to bigger environments – it’s all about “smintegration”.
I personally hope that the market will be strongly focused on integration not only within IoT, but also in any other services which are accessible today. We are surrounded by technologies – but the more we have, the harder it is to make a use of everything.