Digital health was prominently displayed at CES this year with lots of floor space dedicated to the industry and a cornucopia of health and fitness-focused wearable devices debuting in Las Vegas.
The declining costs of hardware components, the ubiquity of smartphones and the need for consumers to cut their medical costs is spurring innovation in many areas of digital health. Given these trends, the line between health and fitness devices is blurring. Every consumer electronics company from Sony to LG to Samsung is either getting into the game or thinking about it. But as activity tracking becomes increasingly more commoditized, health device makers need to step-up their offerings and focus on disease management and improving outcomes. Every patient consumer wants simple interfaces that engage them and allows them to gain valuable insights into their health and wellbeing – not achieved by the current cadre of activity sensors.
Health device makers and wellness apps wanting to provide real value for their customers are moving beyond step counting and integrating into connected health services in the cloud. These services use a holistic approach to engaging the provider and patient in managing adherence and compliance and by extension – outcomes. Incorporating physicians, pharmacists, therapists and trainers as part of an integrated “care-team” allows for meaningful patient engagement easing compliance and allowing patients to become “emotionally” accountable for using the app or device as directed by their care-team. For healthcare providers, this same integration made possible by ubiquitous connectivity – allows them to think and engage beyond the practical aspects of care – the exam, laboratory test or simple disease management.
The past year has proved that many pieces are in place (desire, policy, market demand, innovation, investment, etc.) for a radical transformation in healthcare. We’re beginning to see many aspects of our health and wellness reimagined. There is now a growing community of stakeholders who understand that change is not only possible, but inevitable, and best of all are taking action to see those changes come true. The next step in this tectonic shift, is leveraging a higher level of connectivity where data, devices and humans are optimally connected to enable good care decisions – shifting the cost curve and encouraging accountability and adherence beyond what’s offered by today’s consumer health devices.
A new project is curating and organizing all of the sundry gadgets that collectively comprise the so-called “Internet of Things”. A new website seeks to catalog all of the world’s Internet-enabled devices. So far, they’ve got more than 2000 listed, and they plan to add more in the months ahead. There are fitness monitors, medical devices, smart home products and all sorts of other gadgets ready for measuring and monitoring everything around us. Read more
The reason we are where we are today, with smart home hubs having 7 radios to provide frequency and protocol interoperability between “all” smart connected devices in your home is because many years ago we started with a small light weight protocol called ZigBee and at some point, it gathered an alliance around it. With multiple constituencies all pulling in different directions, the protocol became unwieldy and too heavy for what it was intended. Then we had Z-Wave and the Z-Wave Alliance, same dilemma although with a smaller number of players influencing the outcome. We also have Bluetooth with the Bluetooth SIG, Insteon, 6LoWPAN and so many others. They all promise the same thing, to be able to tap and control a whole ecosystem of products and devices seamlessly. But, they’ve all failed to garner a huge following across a spectrum of products – thus the consumer is forced to pay more for solutions that promise to play well together with others because interoperability across protocols is non existent – unless you include multiple radios in a single hub.
Here comes Qualcomm to the rescue. Qualcomm’s goal is to offer developers and consumers an experience that works across all platforms, manufacturers and devices. But is this possible? Sure, ad-hoc WiFi can provide the connectivity fabric between all devices, but is that sufficient? Many IoT devices are part of a purposeful solution that doesn’t necessarily adhere to the notion of continuous connectivity and command-and-control from a single interface. Thus, a battery-operated sensor with a 10-year battery life can’t be expected to respond to continuous low-level WiFi beacons – nor should it. In cases like these, it is best to leave the protocol implementation to the manufacturer of the device who has intimate knowledge of functional and customer requirements. AllSeen, of course, does not solve the physical layer protocol dilemma that has precluded IoT to cross the proverbial chasm.
When HTML was first written, it was done so by one man, Tim Berners-Lee, whose mission was to have a markup language that web browsers could use to interpret and compose text, images and other materials into visual web pages. He was not conflicted by a consortium with competing interests nor was there 10+ other protocols in existence promising to deliver the same thing. In AllSeen’s case, fragmentation and competitive forces will prevent it from making great strides for many years to come. It’ll take a lot more than open-source, the Linux Foundation and a few examples to get everyone on board.
It’s fair to say that more people have heard of the “internet of things” than have experienced it. There is breathless press coverage of the phenomenon—always patiently re-explained by tech pundits as the trend by which all of our most mundane possessions will become internet-connected—each time novel, if obscure, inventions make a name off successful Kickstarter campaigns. These are invariably coupled with estimates that the internet of things will be a multi-trillion dollar business.
As the market for connected wearable devices set to grow sharply, Broadcom isn’t sitting on the sidelines. The company’s latest chip includes a processor, Bluetooth Smart and wireless charging support, making it an all-in-one choice for makers of smartwatches and other devices.
Marc Gilbert got a horrible surprise from a stranger on his 34th birthday in August. After the celebration had died down, the Houston resident heard an unfamiliar voice coming from his daughter’s room; the person was telling his sleeping 2-year-old, “Wake up, you little slut.” When Gilbert rushed in, he discovered the voice was coming from his baby monitor and that whoever had taken control of it was also able to manipulate the camera. Gilbert immediately unplugged the monitor but not before the hacker had a chance to call him a moron.
We live in an age where household objects can now intelligently communicate with each other via wireless protocols.
Ever heard of the ‘programmable world’? Maybe not. The phrase, as far as I know, was coined by a US Wired journalist, Bill Wasik, in an article earlier this year.
Put simply, the programmable world is one where physical objects – lights, coffee pots, garage doors, AC units, alarm systems, sprinkler systems, and sensors – humidity, temperature, motion, etc – talk to one another via wireless protocols to make those physical objects ‘intelligent’.
Others have called the phenomenon the Internet of Things, the Internet of Everything or the Industrial Internet (inappropriate, according to Wasik, because most of the devices aren’t actually on ‘the internet’) or the Sensor Revolution (inappropriate because it ignores the devices themselves).
Broadcom has become a big name in consumer electronics and networking chips. But now the multibillion-dollar Irvine, Calif.-based chip design firm sees an even bigger opportunity in the market of silicon chips for wearable computing devices. The market for connected, wearable electronics is expected to hit $1.5 billion by 2014. And the company’s WICED Direct platform brings Internet connectivity to all sorts of previously unconnected appliances and wearable devices.
These days the world is full of gadgets that sync with services (and even other gadgets), but some people seem to think it isn’t quite full enough. That’s why digital marketing firm R/GA has partnered up with Techstars to launch a new startup accelerator program devoted solely to these sorts of connected devices.