In this blog on the Internet of Things, I am going to talk about my uncle that has a heart condition and how IoT comes into play in our lives. I want to ensure that I provide a solid understanding of where we see IoT today and where I anticipate we will see it in the future. My goal is to explain what IoT is and how it can affect us all, but more importantly, WHY we would want to move towards IoT.
Companies are investing in developing solutions for IoT and I have personally seen the amount of work people at VMware such as Bask Iyer and Mimi Spier have put into driving our Pulse IoT solution. Their efforts are genuinely amazing. From a very basic perspective, some are not aware that we interact with the internet on a day to day basis. We take courses, bank, shop, and in some countries, even vote online.
Let’s start with my house. I enjoy running and I like to keep track of my progress. I have a smart watch that helps me track my runs, monitor my heart rate, and keep track of my pace and the distance I run. The watch is paired with my cell phone, which contains an app that stores information about my progress and more. I can also look this information up on my tablet (another device). Home cameras and smart TVs are other devices/’things’ that I have in my house.
What is a thing?
Simply speaking, a thing is an object that can send data over a network. Examples include my smart watch, a phone, cameras, self-driving cars or just a simple smart light. I can schedule and turn the lights on and off in my house using my phone or voice commands. I have mentioned different types of things above, but what does that mean? It means that the average person has about 4 or 5 devices that are connected to the internet. Gartner anticipates that by 2020, there will be 20.4 billion IoT devices. Right now, our world population is 7.6 billion… far more devices than people. With all of these devices, a huge consideration is security. Right now, all companies investing in IoT need to ensure that cyber-security is paramount. From a user perspective and from a business perspective, my advice would be that security is the first stop when it comes to IoT, and I will discuss this in more detail in later blogs.
Why IoT and How it Can Help Mankind
For me, this is why IoT is fascinating. Oftentimes, people may talk about IT and refer to us IT people as geeks that work on databases and fancy networks. It may seem that there isn’t a connection between IT and society. However, with IoT, this could not be further from the truth and this is where my techy passion and my genuine drive to help people come together. Below is an IoT example in the healthcare industry and how it can benefit us all.
Let me tell you about my uncle Michael. An elderly man with a heart condition, he constantly needs to take pills. As you can imagine, an elderly man is going to forget to take his medication from time to time. However, when he visits his doctor because he isn’t feeling well, he gives the doctor inaccurate information. For example, he says that he is taking his medication all of the time and never misses a day. Now from a doctors point of view. certain checks need to be performed and the doctor needs to figure out if Michael is telling the entire truth or not. Also, Michael may need to go to the doctor to get a prescription each time the pills need to be renewed.
So where does IoT come into this? Well what if there was a medicine bottle that was smart and could track the number of pills in each bottle? As the pills are taken, it would keep track of the number of pills remaining in the bottle. It would provide information regarding when the pills should be taken and if Michael forgets to take his pills, his phone will send him a message reminder (and perhaps his wife because he can’t put her in a drawer). The phone could continue to send messages at certain intervals until the pill has been taken. Also, when Michael is low on pills, a message can be sent to the pharmacy to order more pills. An RFID tag would be needed for each bottle and yes, this would drive costs up. However, the price point of RFID tags is coming down and more importantly, saving lives is the priority.
IoT would also help Michael if he was to become sick and had to be rushed to the hospital. With IoT, all of his up-to-date information would already be at the fingertips of the medical staff at the hospital. Next, his doctor might need to provide him with certain medication, and IoT would once again be able to help with tracking the hospital inventory and ensuring all medication is in stock.
There are many other areas where society and businesses can benefit from IoT. A simple example is IoT integration with Artificial Intelligence. This may be a bit away, however let’s give a brief example. I have cameras in my garden and if there is movement, I receive a picture message showing the person who is in my garden. It’s usually me. Now, if my camera had facial recognition, I would not receive messages every time and the system would simply say “that’s Francis, don’t send a message”. Now take it a step further, let’s say a prisoner has escaped and the police are looking for him/her. If they were to enter my garden, I would receive the message showing the picture of this person, but AI would also do its job and recognize that the police are looking for this person. My system would be able to alert the police immediately. With street cameras, this would certainly be beneficial and provide a safer society.
We are going to see a transformation across Manufacturing, transportation, banking, Oil & Gas and more. Personally, I’m super excited about how much IoT has evolved, but I’m even more excited about where it’s going. With all of the devices that need to be tracked and managed I recommend taking a look at VMware Pulse IoT Center. VMware Pulse IoT Center is an IoT device management and monitoring solution that helps onboard, monitor, manage and secure all devices from the edge to the cloud. Learn more about Pulse IoT Center here.
The Future is Bright!!
Guest blog post written by Francis Daly, Senior Technical Architect and Manager, Member of the CTO Ambassador Program