The phrase Internet of Things, and its abbreviation IoT, have become tired words to some. There has been a considerable amount of buzz around the topic over the past couple of years. The idea of IoT is that cloud computing and internet connections are at the point where they can support a vast network of internet enabled sensors in the world.
These sensors could be placed on everything from a factory machine to the refridgerator in your kitchen. And the sensors would feed back information to data centers, which churns through some algorithms and leads people to make smarter and more data-informed decisions. For example, sensors on a factory machine could predict when the machine is going to need service, and prevent its future need of service from disrupting a production line. And the sensor in your fridge could help re-order eggs when you are getting low so that you have one less thing to worry about.
One industry that has looked with great interest to IoT devices is healthcare. Empowering doctors with a patient’s personal health data, tracked by wearable sensors, could help individualize care far beyond what is currently possible.
The verdict is still out on if and when the age of IoT devices will make an impact in every aspect of our lives. But now the Microsoft Band is leading the way for using commercially available smart wearables to improve healthcare.
Microsoft recently shared the story of Poole Hospital in the UK, which comes to us via Digital Trends. The hospital was looking for a cost-effective way to improve the lives of patients with Epilepsy. Epilepsy is a neurological disease that results in epileptic seizers. The seizures can range from nearly undetectable events to uncontrollable vigorous shaking with the potential to cause physical injuries.
And so, the doctors at Poole Hospital thought they could use a wearable to sense and even predict when a patient is going to have a seizure. That way healthcare providers could change treatment plans to match individual cases and family members could get real-time notifications when a seizure is occurring.
Working with Microsoft, the doctors used the Microsoft Band to monitor patient’s heart rate, skin conductance, and movement. This data was then fed to a data center where machine learning algorithms crunched the Band’s data to know when seizures are occurring. This has led to doctors providing advice to patients directly in real time as episodes occur. They even hope in the future that this data collected in Microsoft’s Health Vault can lead to algorithms predicting future seizures.
All of this leads to improved care, faster alterations of treatment plans, and making a tough life changing condition more manageable for thousands of patients in the UK. Doctors at Poole Hospital think this new program could immediately improve the lives of 2,000 patients with epilepsy. Hopefully, this is a future indicator of the IoT age living up to its promise in exciting and impactful ways.