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IoT Technology Brings Enhancements in Healthcare

IoT Technology Brings Enhancements in Healthcare

One of the things I’ve always loved about technology is how it can be used to help people with illnesses and disabilities. For the time that I’ve worked in this industry, the stories that have touched me most are the ones that can improve the lives of other people. The current technology trends mean that these stories are coming thick and fast. The IoT has opened up a whole world of opportunity for developers of new products that can help the disabled. Even if the product doesn’t use the IoT itself, technologies designed for the IoT can always be used for other functions. Ultra-low-power designs with wireless communication and smart sensors will bring electronics systems into areas that would never have been considered previously, for much more than healthcare applications.

Telemedicine is expected to be a huge new industry in the near future. With most developed countries having an aging population, and medical services struggling to cope, telemedicine offers a solution that takes the pressure off overworked medical staff. The patient can use instruments at home to take readings of vital signs, such as heart rate and blood pressure, and the instrument will upload the readings directly to the doctors facility. If the readings are outwith the normal expected boundaries, the doctor will be automatically be alerted, and can contact the patient before they even realise they are ill. These techniques are expected to be expanded to include new technologies like labs on chip, which can analyze samples from the patient at home. 

Telemedicine may be coming soon, but even today there are small advances that enhance the quality of life for the disabled or people with chronic illnesses. One such example I’ve seen recently is a smart watch that can help blind and visually impaired people get around. The company that developed the watch, Sunu, was actually co-founded by Fernando Albertorio, who is registered legally blind himself. The watch uses ultrasonic technology to project 30 pulses per second. The receiver detects pulses reflected by objects and calculates the distance. For feedback, the watch then uses a haptic actuator to alert the user. The closer the user is to an object, the stronger the actuator vibrates. The device can detect objects 2 cm wide up to a distance of almost four metres. The watch can also use Bluetooth to connect to a smartphone for additional features, like finding tagged objects.