The first example of Internet of Things (IoT) devices dates back to the early 1980s. It was a Coca-Cola machine at Carnegie Mellon University that could remotely report on drinks availability and their temperature. Since then, IoT technology has become synonymous with digital automation, monitoring, and data analytics.
The Internet of Things is now a $662.21 billion industry on track to hit $3.3 trillion by 2030. Today—thanks to the ubiquity of low-cost computing, wireless connectivity, and AI technologies—the Internet of Things is commonplace in nearly every commercial industry. But for now, let’s explore the useful and exciting applications of IoT and connected devices in two of the most influential sectors: healthcare and finance.
Understanding The Internet of Things and Connected Devices
The Internet of Things refers to a network of interconnected devices, “things”, exchanging data over the internet. When interlinked via IoT, devices, such as home appliances, wearable gadgets, and surveillance cameras, can communicate in real time and even make decisions on their own. Such devices are known as IoT or connected devices.
The Internet of Things essentially merges the digital and physical worlds, making everyday digital interactions smarter, richer, and more responsive.
The sensors embedded in connected devices act like digital eyes and ears, constantly observing their environments and sharing what they see or hear. The data collected can then be analysed into actionable insights or turned into executable program instructions for devices in the network.
In a nutshell, that’s how the Internet of Things works.
IoT in healthcare
The Internet of Things is transforming the way healthcare services are delivered and the interactions between healthcare providers and patients. The end result is better care for patients in terms of improved early diagnosis, close monitoring, and data-driven medical recommendations.
Additionally, healthcare providers can offer higher-quality care by tapping into IoT capabilities. For instance, the use of connected devices minimises medical errors by increasing accessibility to accurate historic and real-time patient data.
Here are the two main IoT applications in healthcare demonstrating how using the technology is a win-win for patients and doctors.
Telehealth or telemedicine refers to delivering healthcare, information, and education via remote technology solutions. A virtual clinic visit or doctor consultation over video call is a good example of telehealth in action.
The idea of telehealth is not exactly new. But it ramped up during the COVID-19 pandemic as a means to avoid the potential contagion risk posed by in-person hospital visits and one-on-one doctor consultations.
IoT healthcare solutions bring a whole new dimension to telehealth through remote health and fitness monitoring. Connected devices such as smartwatches, wristbands, and implanted sensors can monitor various aspects of the patient’s health in real time.
Such devices can track the following vitals and risk factors:
- Heartrate and blood pressure
- Blood sugar levels
- Mood and general emotional wellness
- Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
- Hand hygiene
- Neuron activity
- Exposure to health hazards
The patient information collected from the various data points is then channelled to a central repository, where it is stored, analysed, interpreted, and visualised.
Better treatment decisions
The data generated by healthcare IoT devices is essential for informing important decisions such as diagnoses, prescriptions, and treatment plans. Also, IoT data from multiple patients can help healthcare providers determine the effectiveness of certain treatments, the development of certain ailments, and the relationships between two or more health conditions.
IoT devices provide the raw materials for big data engines. And yes, big data has found its way into the healthcare industry, particularly in medical research. Big data systems analyse large sets of unstructured data using computational tools such as AI and machine learning to reveal meaningful trends, associations, and patterns.
According to a 2019 study, research institutions are already utilising big data systems fed by connected devices and other clinical information sources to gain valuable insights into complex healthcare problems.
IoT in finance
The future of banking is digital. The traditional brick-and-mortar banking system is quickly phasing out as more and more banks, credit unions, insurers, and investment/trading companies lean toward digital fintech solutions. This is exemplified by the growing trend of bank-fintech partnerships.
Among other technologies and innovations, IoT is a big part of the rapid digital evolution rocking the financial industry.
IoT brings value to the financial industry in the following ways:
Faster payment processing
NFC-powered IoT devices, including smartphone covers, wearables, and keychains, allow users to make instant one-touch payments without using credit or debit cards. This enables convenient and secure contactless payments for seamless financial transactions.
Improved risk management
Information collected from IoT devices can help financial institutions to mitigate bad credit, security, and financial fraud risks.
When coupled with robust data analytics, connected devices can detect the slightest anomalies in users’ financial transactions that might indicate financial or insurance fraud. Such systems can also be tuned to accurately gauge an individual’s or company’s eligibility for credit, insurance, or investment.
You can also use IoT devices to monitor critical assets such as ATMs, physical branches, vehicles, cargo, and borrowers’ collateral in real time. Surveillance cameras, trackers, and other sensory devices can continuously monitor the status and whereabouts of important assets and flag any suspicious developments.
Better customer services
As we saw in the healthcare sector, IoT technology is a great source of insightful data. In this case, financial institutions can leverage IoT data to develop usage-based differentiated products and services.
Analysing IoT data gives you an idea of your customer’s preferences, spending behaviours, and lifestyles. You can leverage that knowledge to develop more personalised financial offerings. Such insights can also point to inefficiencies, barriers, and bottlenecks in your delivery model, highlighting areas in need of improvement.
IoT technology enables you to make informed decisions to offer seamless customer experiences.