Internet of Things (IoT)

Shubham Agrawal

Senior Mobile Developer

Internet of Things refers to physical devices with embedded electronics,software, sensors and actuators which can communicate through internet. Each device is uniquely identified and can communicate with other devices.The IoT allows objects to be sensed or controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit in addition to reduced human intervention.  

Some common fields where such technology have been used are:  

Health, Industry, Home, Transportation/Automobiles, Agriculture, Energy Management, Environmental Monitoring, Wearables  and many more...  

Health:
For this blog we shall focus on health.The IoT has numerous applications in healthcare, the possible usage till now we have seen are:

1. Telemedicine:

Telemedicine is a concept of remote medical consulting services.It can be difficult to make time to see a doctor. Between busy schedules and limited appointment availability, staying healthy can lead to extra stress. Telemedicine allows to discuss non-emergency medical issues with a doctor by phone or online.

2. Smart Medical Store Concept:

Smart Fridge by Weka

The Fridge automates vaccine storage and dose dispensing to save time and enhance patient care. It includes remote monitoring services to ensure vaccines are stored at the right temperature, while automatic inventory tracing saves staff time and ensures a reliable vaccine supply. The refrigerator houses each vaccine in its own cartridge, in keeping with required storage protocol by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, access is limited through a small drawer on the front of the Smart Fridge to protect vaccines from temperature change.

The Vaccine Smart Fridge uses an IoT platform that collects real-time data from numerous sensors on every unit to enable 24×7 monitoring and analysis. BlueMetal, the 2016 Microsoft Internet of Things Worldwide Partner of the Year, worked with Weka to develop the IoT-enabled device using Windows 10 IoT Core that keeps vaccines fresh, secured and accounted for. The real-time visualization of vaccine inventory throughout the network enables Weka to understand the vaccination rates at every location. And by using business intelligence capabilities such as those in Azure Machine Learning, organizations can be alerted to upcoming vaccine shortages at specific clinics or in certain areas. For example, if a clinic unexpectedly runs out of a vaccine, the system can let a healthcare worker know there’s a physician’s office a few miles away that has a surplus of that type of vaccine in stock.

Controlled refrigeration and monitoring also helps reduce financial losses. “Physicians generally have $40,000 to $60,000 worth of vaccines in their refrigerators,” says Lowenstein. “If the clinic suffers a power outage or the traditional fridge fails, they risk losing the entire inventory of vaccines.” By using automated processes to manage inventory through IoT sensors, the Fridge can deliver proactive alerts on inventory shortages or changes in temperature.

In addition, Weka estimates that a medical practice that dispenses approximately 400 vaccines per month could reduce human-resource costs by more than $1,000 a month with the Fridge’s monitoring system. This system helps ensure that the first vaccines in the refrigerator are the first that come out, so patients never receive an expired or recalled vaccine, and it reduces the manual task of vaccine management by clinicians.

The Smart Fridge is a great example of how companies can accelerate digital transformation with smart solutions to increase staff efficiency and quality control and automate inventory management. Weka’s Smart Fridge is currently scheduled to go to market at the beginning of 2017.

Iot Devices for Patients:

Since IoT includes devices connected through internet and different sensors, hospitals and private doctors can use remotely controlled health devices from one control center in various location. These devices can be used to get patient’s data and provide medical help.

CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitoring )

In 2016, Roche acquired distribution rights to an implantable long-term continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system which uses a 90 day sensor below the patient’s skin.

The sensor communicates with a smart transmitter which then sends blood glucose levels to a sister mobile app on the patient’s phone.

Inhalers with sensor

The most immediate use for IoT technology in healthcare is not to assist in diagnosis, though, but to ensure adherence. Adding sensors to medicines or delivery mechanisms allows doctors to keep accurate track of whether patients are sticking to their treatment plan.

This provides motivation but also clarity for patients. Devices connected to mobile apps allow for patients to receive reminders, as well as to check on their own adherence.

Novartis is undertaking connected inhaler research with both Qualcomm and Propeller Health, developing inhalers for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Propeller’s Breezhaler device connects to its digital platform via a sensor, passively recording and transmitting usage data. Novartis’ own device will likely not be released until 2019, though, showing the timescales involved in this sort of research.

 

Connected contact lenses

Alcon has licensed Google's smart lens technology which involves non-invasive sensors embedded within contact lenses.  

The lenses may eventually be able to measure glucose levels of diabetes patients via their tears and then store the information in a mobile device,which can also be used as the smart lens to help those with presbyopia, helping to restore the eye's focus in future.There are many other IoT projects that can track patient’s health status and even lifestyle. We can use these technologies to maintain assets in hospitals and clinics and moreover it can be used to reduce human manpower cost.

We can expect sensors and IoT devices everywhere in near future. The possibilities are high and yet to be researched.

Since, IoT is getting advanced we could see some more amazing innovations that can reduce manual manpower and time consuming healthcare facilities to provide better service to patients and human kind.