Many of us are familiar with the term “the internet of things” (IoT), but only some know that the road to IoT began back in 1982, when grad students from the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University connected a modified Coke vending machine to the internet. This technology turned the machine into a basic smart device because it was able to provide networked status reports to the students about inventory and temperature control.
Today, our definition of IoT refers to the infrastructure of connecting physical objects to the internet, creating a smart device that enables communication between other smart devices or people. Reports indicate that globally, there were 8.4 billion IoT devices in 2017, and it is estimated that there will be 30 billion devices by 2020. By 2020, the global market value of IoT is projected to reach $7.1 trillion.
As global IoT grows, so too does the internet of medical things (IoMT). This technology is being used by individuals to track their health, for example via a FitBit, and is revolutionizing the healthcare industry. Hospital and clinical staff are using IoMT technology to communicate with patients about appointments, medication management, lab results, care plans, and more.
Wearable technology has been around since 1500 when Peter Henlein, a locksmith and clockmaker from Nuremberg, Germany, invented small, portable watches worn as necklaces or attached to clothing. The Apple Watch is a modern example of wearable technology. This electronic smartwatch is also a cellphone, MP3 player, personal assistant (Siri), and monitors the wearer’s health by using various apps.
Health apps that work with the sensors embedded in smart devices to collect data about a person’s heartrate, blood pressure, step count, etc. have become hugely popular. In September 2015, the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, released a report that found there are more than 165,000 health-related apps available worldwide. In the United States alone, ABI Research expects digital wearable medical device sales to top $55 billion in 2022.