By Eric J. Addeo, Ph.D.
There is a vision being explored and brought to fruition by an unprecedented partnership of academic, governmental and commercial industrial institutions. It is a vision of widely available and affordable access to lifelong educational opportunities, improved and more cost effective health care, universal access to the best libraries and other sources of information and of increasing productivity, efficiency and competitiveness.
The vision is of a global information infrastructure based on powerful computing, processing, communications and software wireless technologies that have emerged over the last several years; and continues to exert a profound influence on the day-to-day fabric of our lives. While models for information infrastructure already existed, none had achieved the scale envisioned for our future workplaces, homes, neighborhoods and cities. This new information infrastructure has rapidly evolved into what is now known as the Internet of Things (IoT).
The Internet of Things: Definition
The IoT is a world-wide network of interconnected everyday objects that are uniquely addressable over the Internet. We are well into the IoT era. Billions of devices are expected in the relative near-term and it is now commonplace to find a dozen or more Internet-enabled devices in homes and offices around the world. These systems run on software where billions of everyday objects will each be assigned an IP address, enabling people to interact with these objects through the Internet and for the objects to interact with each other. A few well-known products currently disrupting the IoT market include Microsoft’s Azure IoT, Cisco IoT and Google Cloud IoT, just to name a few.
The details of exactly how the future of IoT will unfold remain unclear. However, IoT holds the potential to transform the way we interact with our world, socialize with friends and family members, enable education, engage in our professional endeavors and conduct and manage our lives. The IoT connectivity trend is a major source of economic growth that will impact sectors including eHealth, commercial, business and military.
Healthcare IoT Paves the Way for a Changing Landscape
Today’s generations are faced with the challenge of addressing problems such as the aging population and the inherent need for elderly assisted-living facilities. Traditional healthcare systems may not be able to satisfy the needs of a continuously growing and developing society, along with the growing demand for access to healthcare services.
eHealth, enabled by IoT, holds the promise of dramatically transforming the healthcare landscape. IoT has already been phenomenal in revolutionizing many aspects of traditional healthcare paradigms providing flexible, reliable and secure solutions that accelerate trends in personalized medicine, early diagnosis of diseases and more effective and efficient treatments.
The evolution of wireless technologies is inextricably coupled to advances in the healthcare IoT domain. Indeed, synergistic advances with the past four generations of wireless technologies, have extended the healthcare IoT networked-landscape and enhanced healthcare IoT services compared to its predecessors. The emerging 5G wireless access technologies will be the key enabling healthcare IoT technology.
The Value of IoT in Education
IoT in education holds the promise of increasing access and enhancing the delivery of learning at all levels – from smart classrooms to special accommodations for disabled students. For example, IoT enabled education can help make laboratory exercises more versatile and realistic by using IoT-enabled virtual reality simulations. True-sized emulations of networked and electronic systems could convey an unprecedented realistic physical reality of these systems to the student. Wearable IoT devices could determine the level of interest and/or fatigue of the students. Smart-microphone arrays may even recognize when a professor mentions that an assignment is due and automatically update a student’s calendar.
These trends call not only for engineers, scientists and technologists who deeply understand the technical aspects, but also call for highly skilled individuals who embrace technology in creative ways to stimulate yet a new wave of applications and communications services that will continue to impact the fabric and evolution of our everyday lives.
About Professor Eric Addeo, Ph.D.
A senior professor at DeVry University for 20+ years, Eric Addeo, PhD, brings with him two decades of professional experience in the fields of electrical engineering and computer science. He has held Executive Director positions at Panasonic and Bellcore, has 10 patents in the wireless communication field and has co-authored over 100 technical talks.