Have you heard of medical radio-telemetry? Up until very recently, it’s been the closest thing that the medical field has had to remote, cloud-based intel on the human body. But now, with the convergence of IoT, cloud, and big data technologies, the health-care industry is primed for a revolutionary influx of new life-saving results. In this article you’re going to see a plausible scenario from the healthcare industry, but keep in mind that such cloud-enabled IoT advancements are happening in every vertical – from utilities and transportation, to finance and retail, and everything in between.
Going back to the remote telemetry example, it works like this. Imagine your Uncle Jimmy recently had a heart attack and was implanted with a telemetry unit that continuously monitors his cardiac activity, and uses radio waves to stream data alerts back to his doctor when a disturbance occurs. Although this may sound cutting edge, it’s old technology. It’s basically an old school monitoring and alert system.
So, here’s how things have changed with the IoT. Imagine now that Uncle Jimmy has a FitBit (to track his daily level of physical activities) and is also taking sensor-enabled pills, like Helius, to capture and report data on his medication adherence, body temperature, heart rate, and rest patterns. Now imagine that each of these devices; the cardiac data streaming device, the FitBit, and the Helius pills are all connected to one another through a cloud-based network. Also consider that this cloud-based network is equipped with big data processing and analytics applications that work ceaselessly to derive insights from the data that’s collectively streaming in from all of these connected devices.
From this network, Uncle Jimmy gets real-time updates and suggestions about his health and wellness status. As a form of preventative medicine, the network is able to tell Jimmy when he forgot to take his heart meds, or should consider getting in a little exercise, or maybe should sleep in for a few extra hours, to protect his health in light of his underlying cardiac condition. These are predictive and prescriptive data insights based on real-time streaming data that is generated by data producing devices connected across a cloud-based network. Definitely a step up from the monitor and alert systems of yesteryear, that were only able to warn of problems after they had started. Now that you understand what the convergence of these technologies could look like in real-life, let’s take a gander at how it all works from the inside out.
First and foremost, to grasp this technology you need to know the vocabulary that’s used to describe it. An IoT cloud (also called the “fog”) is a network of cloud-based services that are connected to IoT-enabled devices. An IoT cloud supports the big data processing and analytics requirements of a broad IoT network, enabling it to make intelligent, adaptive, and autonomous decisions. The IoT-enabled devices that are connected to, and that sit on an IoT cloud are called edge devices.
Most of these edge devices come paired with their own device-embedded analytic applications, or device-embedded applications that are capable of processing and deriving insights from local data that’s captured by the device.