Friday, May 6, 2011

The Web of Things and Healthcare

Recent developments like the paperphone flexible computers that can be stacked up like paper, always on, ready to be used, raises the important idea of the "web of things."

The idea is pretty simple- in the not too distant future, a large number of important objects will be online, meaning that some simple data about them will be available for access and processing via RFID tags. For example, all of the food items in your pantry will be talking to your smartphone, and you can be updated on your grocery list while in the supermarket without having to inventory beforehand. (Most exciting for me, this info would obviate the need to even GO to the grocery store. Rather, someone, or some thing, can just bring the necessary goods to your house.)

The healthcare repercussions are dramatic, particularly for behavior modification.

Consider the central goal of diet and exercise: correlating calories consumed with calories burned. What if sensors on your food delivery sites (fridge, restaurant, cafeteria) counted your intake, and sensors on your body counted your exercise, and the balance was presented to you in a simple format: "Run 2 miles, do Zumba for 20 minutes, or play Wii tennis for 40 minutes."

I'm venturing out on a limb here, but I just don't see how this could not happen. If the web of things is inevitable, then it seems we can begin to take stock of it now by adopting some of these tools and playing around with them. 

I'm loving my fitbit.

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