The Internet of Things (IoT) promises sensor-equipped devices in constant communication with the cloud. The ‘Things’ are all manner of devices measuring and sensing, ceaselessly clicking away and transforming the amorphous sturm and drang of life into a rich river of digits and data. It’s estimated that by 2020 there will be more than four such devices for everyone on Earth.
If the best that the IoT can offer is a refrigerator that can update my shopping list automatically then who really cares?
It’s when Wearables are leveraged along with all other facets of the IoT that we begin to see the true value to individuals and communities. This is the beginning of the Internet of People.
Today, nearly one billion people are carrying smartphones. Besides the tremendous processing power packed into even an older phone these devices also include the ability to sense orientation, location, altitude, proximity and motion. Of course, they can also transmit data to the cloud. Complement these sensors with additional biometric sensors contained in wearable devices or smart garments and you have the ability to put personal measurement data in a new context – time of day, location, route, activity, companions.
Imagine what is possible as other parts of the IoP begin to emerge like the Smart Home or Connected Car. Your smart bedding can measure your sleep invisibly. With soft sensors in the seats and steering wheel your car can track your heart rate and temperature as well as fatigue. The smartphone can be the primary device to aggregate all of this data.
But again, so what?
Wearables today are for the most part descriptive – they quantify what we’ve already done. The opportunity to create real value is in allowing the wearables to become prescriptive – tell us what we should do. This is less draconian than it sounds. Already some devices (the Spire and Garmin products come to mind) notice a period of inactivity and buzz us with a message to get up an move around. But its when all of this contextual data — from our wearables, homes, cars and workplaces — is analyzed to find out when we’re at our best that true insight can be delivered.
Imagine for a minute that the great day or week that you experienced could be quantified. Imagine the same for the tough day or week you had. By understanding what you did and experienced leading up to that great week, the IoP can help you stay on track.
All of these sensing devices working in concert with constantly improving data science will deliver us something that technology has long promised: a metric for happiness.
You can imagine a personal dashboard with an arrow pointing your status toward the green or red end of the dial and prompting you with specific actions to move it into the green. This is where the technology wants to go.
Here’s a question for you: How would you feel knowing all this information was being collected about you – even if it was used to help you?
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