In the last decade, the Internet of Things (IoT) has evolved from mere theory to rapidly transforming nearly every industry possible. IoT growth has been nothing but phenomenal.
Just five years ago, did we ever imagine that IoT could play a critical role in healthcare? Back then, an IoT-enabled fitness wearable could only track step counts, making 10,000 steps a day a new normal.
Today, there are start-ups such as GOQii that are building an entire preventive healthcare ecosystem by empowering a safety/health watch that tracks several life-threatening parameters - ECG and sugar levels, blood pressure, sleep rate and more. Further, users can manually enter their food and water intake, link their medical records directly to the app, and all this data then gets analyzed by a remote healthcare professional who then designs a personalized plan to help achieve a user's health goals.
Insurance companies are increasingly using this data to understand a potential insurer's risks, and offering lower premiums to healthier individuals, making it a win-win situation. All of this is made possible by a single device that's strapped to a user's wrist.
In a country like India where there is a shortage of 600,000 doctors and 2 million nurses, such IoT solutions will have many use-cases; monitoring a patient's health conditions, tracking their response to treatment, medicine usage data, and recommendation, and even provide real-time data on symptoms to doctors remotely.
Looking further, IoT can also make an impact on the global problem of pollution and climate change. IoT company Oizom has built a simple mobile application that can capture, analyze, and compare air quality of 100 cities, globally. This dense environmental data that Oizom collects is helping identify pollution sources, raise awareness, enable accurate forecasting and predictions and ultimately, helping design specific and sustainable solutions to improve the air we breathe, every day.
These are just a few use cases, but there are multiple across industries – worker safety in mines and other hazardous locations, monitoring toxic gas leaks, optimized energy consumption and so on –- all of which can help create a better environment for us to live in.
The challenge though is that there is low awareness among consumers on the wide-range of benefits from IoT. Moreover, this is mostly a result of not enough compelling large-scale examples. What’s important to understand here is that both are interconnected. A consumer who doesn’t fully comprehend the potential of a particular IoT product/service will hesitate to adopt it, ultimately hindering large-scale acceleration and creating a cycle that becomes hard to break.
In a survey of 2,000 urban respondents across 12 Indian cities, one in three respondents believe that IoT is equivalent to smartphones only and a mere 14.5% of respondents see enhanced public services (healthcare, electricity, water among others), as a potential benefit from IoT.
The pace at which IoT is developing has been undoubtedly rapid. However, in this journey, it's essential always to take the consumer along. For consumers to truly realize the benefits of IoT, companies must build strategies to create more awareness – on the product, usage, and impact. Although this will involve time, efforts, and investments by IoT players and adopting companies to understand the potential benefits, it should happen simultaneously with product development. This kind of comprehension will empower companies to remove deterrents such as fear of security and cost, among others, address them through available solutions and move along to live in a more connected world.
There is much to gain for us in India and globally by simply showcasing use cases and successful deployments for private and public organizations as well as consumers at large to understand the long term benefits and value of IoT services. As consumers' behaviors shift, adoption, scale, and impact will simultaneously increase too.
Praveen Arora, vice president for operations and technology, Internet of Things, Tata Communications, wrote this article.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CDOTrends.