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Friday, March 25, 2016

IOT: Can provide the much needed succour to the Relatives of Alzheimer Patients

The ability to communicate via computer networks has indeed today touched virtually every aspect of our daily life. Cell phone has almost become an extension of human body itself. This all-pervading usage of computing across enterprises and consumers has simply demanded for efficiency, flexibility, and agility and simply put ‘Cloud’—the availability of unlimited power to compute and storage on demand, that too, at an affordable cost and in an efficient manner—became the answer.

Thus surfaced another disruptive innovation: Internet of Things (IOT)—“…the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity to enable objects to exchange data with the production, operation and /or other connected devices”.  

People in the forefront of this innovation say that when fully operationalized it would become different things to different people:  For a driver, it could be a sensor that detects a collision and calls the ambulance; for a homemaker, it could be a smoke detector alerting the fire services; for an elderly, it could be a wearable device that calls for medical assistance when his heart beat falls below a critical level; for an editor in the press, it could be an alert on the table that warns him of delay in the release of edit page, etc.

It is this convergence of the progress of a series of technology paradigms that resulted in the evolution of IOT with an amazing potential for varied applications that has quite excited the professionals and entrepreneurs alike. Forecasters are putting across phenomenal estimates about the likely business out of IOT: one research agency puts the global IOT market by 2020 at $7.1 trillion; another report says that global manufacturing industry is all set to invest $140 billion over the next five years— exciting opportunities.   

That said, we must also admit that IOT is not all that a brand new technology, for in some forms it existed even earlier, particularly in the manufacturing industry—machine to machine communications are in existence for quite some time, except that they were mostly in a physically coupled form. 

It is however with the launching of IPV6—the new version of the Internet—miniaturization of electronic devices that are more powerful and energy efficient besides being available at an affordable price, and as wireless communication became the in thing of the globe, it became a matter of time for connecting any object tagged with a microprocessor that can have an IP address of its own to the Internet.

That being the emerging reality, I earnestly hope that some empathetic-nerd will one day apply himself to device a gadget that can be tagged to an Alzheimer patient so that it could send alert signals to the relatives [of the patient] whenever he crosses a defined perimeter of his protected-/safety-zone.

Using the existing networks, the gadget shall be made capable of even indicating the location of the patient to the relatives—who alarmed by the sudden disappearance of their beloved patient and not knowing where to search  for him run all-around in great trauma, at times for even days—which shall provide them the much needed succour. What a relief it would be! And sooner the better.

If such a device is already in existence, let that be made widely known to the people for their taking advantage of it. It is the government/NGOs who have to come forward with missionary zeal to disseminate such information and distribute such devices among the poor patients as well.

True, there may not be much money in such venture, but whoever takes up the cause of traumatised relatives of that unfortunate Alzheimer patient will be doing yeoman service, particularly in the Indian context. Even corporates could undertake this as a part of their CRS program.


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