Imagine a living in a world so connected that your house, your car and the surrounding environment are responsive to just a tap of your finger. From controlling your home remotely, managing energy distribution via smart grids to personalised healthcare via remote patient monitoring – all controlled by devices connected to the internet. That is the era of Internet of Things (IoT) and we are at the beginning of its dawn.
Speaking at a recent Innovation Forum event, Professor Mischa Dohler an expert from King’s College London said:
“The internet itself has undergone a massive transformation in the last twenty years from being infrastructure driven to being opportunity, service and business driven.”
This has propelled innovative new businesses. One such example is Peek Vision, co-founded by Dr. Andrew Bastawrous. It aims to treat blindness in low-income settings, 80% of which is avoidable. Peek transforms a smartphone into a comprehensive tool using specially designed camera attachments for smartphones which can be controlled via an app to allow visual examination. Tested in the remotest places it allows eye examinations at a fraction of the cost while enabling ease of use. The simplicity is so great that the Peek Vision team is now educating teachers to diagnose vision impairment in schools.
Another example of a firm within the realm of IoT and education is that of Virtual Medics. Founded by Mr Oliver Trampleasure, Virtual Medics aims to provide high quality medical education to students across the world via Google glass. In 2014, they launched the world’s first interactive surgical teaching session which was broadcasted live across the world to 14,000 students.
On the medical device front, Gyrogear is working towards restoring independence and quality of life to patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease. The ‘Gyroglove’, as explained by lead engineer Paul de Panisse, is a device which stabilises tremors by coupling gyroscopes or ‘spinning discs’ to the hand. Gyrogear makes remote patient monitoring a reality by using an app to track the progress of the tremors.
Patients and consultants are brought even closer by an interface platform which connects wearable technology and doctor access to patient data. Medopad offers such a solution which allows doctors to collaborate with medical professionals and access patient information in real-time using mobile platforms. Dan Vahdat, the Chief Technical Officer at Medopad said that Medopad can be integrated with third-party devices like the Apple watch. This integration can be extended to monitor patients via apps such as their new chemotherapy app.
While such advances in IoT devices are exciting, Robert Miller who is the Head of Smart Energy Practice at MWR Infosecurity warns that:
“Security concerns with IoT devices are real and must be addressed when developing such a device.”
The data safety is indeed the biggest challenge in the field of healthcare IoT devices, but the benefits for both patients and doctors seem to outweigh the existing issues and we will surely see this sector expanding, so watch this space!