TellSpec: IoT device that can be a life-saver — and the killer app!

Posted on 10th December 2013 in design, environmental, health, Internet of Things, M2M

Whenever someone tries to dismiss the Internet of Things as a nice future vision, I love to rebut them with an example — such as the bassinettes in the Toronto Hospital for  Sick Children that allow doctors to diagnose a life-threatening infection a day before there are visible symptoms — that shows the IoT’s not only a reality, but is also saving lives!   That usually stops them in their tracks.   .

Now there’s a great new example on the horizon: the TellSpec food inspector.

In fact, because of the service’s three components, I’d say it’s a near-perfect example if you want to introduce the IoT to someone! Once in widespread use, it might well be the “killer app” that finally makes the IoT a household phrase — extremely useful (and easy to use), affordable, and allowing you to do something that couldn’t be done before.

For a variety of reasons, the rate of food allergies is increasing alarmingly, and adults with gluten allergies or parents whose kids are allergic to peanuts can’t always depend on package labels or appearances to warn them of when a given food may trigger a deadly attack of anaphylaxis. Then there’s the rest of us, who are increasingly dubious about whether our foods include pesticides, transfats or other unwanted substances. Or, we may just want to track our calorie consumption. TaDa! The TellSpec!

The crowd-sourced (yea! The people know best) system is a a classic IoT service, because it combines:

  • a device: the TellSpec scanner, which is small enough to go on a key chain — and would have been impossible without the revolution in sensors and nanotechnology (specifically, nanophotonics): its guts are a low-power laser and a spectrometer on a chip that measures the reflected light, analyzing any food’s chemical composition in less than 20 seconds. This kind of analysis used to require a bulky, stationary spectrometer.
  • analysis in the cloud: the data is transmitted to the cloud, where an algorithm analyzes the spectrum information. As you can imagine, doing this kind of analysis on a large scale and in real time was impossible until the cloud.
  • the app: within seconds, you get an easy-to-understand message that details the food’s components, such as transfats, caloric content, allergens, etc.

How cool is that?

The system is in prototype right now. They’re taking pre-orders now, for delivery in August. The scanner plus a year of the analysis support will be $320, and after that, it will cost $7.99 per month or $69.99 yearly. My normally acceptable range of cost for an app is $.00 or less, LOL, but even a cheapskate like me realizes that this is well worth the price.

What a marvelous invention, and what a proof of concept!

As always, I’m indebted to Postscapes for the tip on this one.

Best quick intro to the IoT that I’ve seen!

Following up on my last post, I’ve found what I think is the best quick intro to the Internet of Things!

Internet of Things,” released today by the Center for Data Innovation (hadn’t heard of them! BTW, they also get points in my book for covering XBRL, the magic potion for data…) is a quick read: it has short intros to most of the major consumer-oriented areas affected by the IoT, from healthcare to home automation, combined with two examples for each of those topics. I hadn’t heard of some of the examples (thanks, authors Daniel Castro and Jordan Misra!), although most are frequently cited ones ranging from the Nest thermostat to the Vitality GlowCap.  All in all, they’ll show almost any skeptic that the IoT is already a reality and that it will change their life!

The report concludes with brief policy recommendations for government and business alike:

  • (for government agencies) lead by example, i.e., include funding for sensors in bridge projects, etc. Yea (you listening, Obama Administration?).
  • reduce barriers to data sharing (this harkens back to my Data Dynamite book: data gains value by being shared!).
  • give consumers access to their data (again, something I wrote about in Data Dynamite).
  • avoid inundating consumers with notices (a fine line, since they need to be informed, in plain English, about how their data will be used).
  • regulate the use of data, not the collection (in line with Mercatus Center’s advice)

All in all, a nice intro to the IoT!

BTW: Thanx to ol’ friend Pete O’Dell for turning me on to this report!

$100 billion potential savings in medical costs: more evidence for GlowCap!

Posted on 2nd July 2013 in government, health, Internet of Things

In the draft of the article on the Internet of Things that Cisco’s Dave Evans and I hope to sell to the Harvard Business Review, the lede (BTW, I love old newsie terms, like “pieing the type”…) is about reducing the waste in medical spending by improving patients’ compliance rate with drug compliance through use of the Vitality GlowCap, my favorite poster child for the IoT. glowcaps_loops

If you aren’t familiar with the GlowCap, it fits on a regular pill bottle, but has an important difference: each one has its own IP address, and includes a sensor, transmitter and battery.It’s preset for the time when you and your doctor agree you should take the pill.

When it’s time to take your pill, the cap begins to glow and  makes a gentle sound. As soon as you take the cap off and replace it, a signal is sent to the company’s server where it is recorded: you and your doctor both get reports of your rate of compliance (for the first time, the doctor actually knows if you’ve taken your pill: no guesswork!). But if you don’t take it, the sound and light become more insistant, and continue for two hours. Then, if you still haven’t taken it, you and/or a caregiver or relative get an email, text or recorded alert. How cool is that? By pressing on the bottom of the cap you can even place an automated request to your pharmacy to refill the prescription! Bottom line? With the GlowCap, studies show that patient compliance increases from an average of 50% to 85%.

According to these new numbers from the IMS Institute for Healthcare, that’s HUGE: they estimate that failure to take pills on time results in $100 billion in wasted health care spending annually

I’m still dubious about the nirvana of IoT refrigerators that will prepare my shopping list for me (I’m more the kind of chef who, about 2 hours before dinner, starts to wander the online recipe sources for something I’ve never made before: until my refrigerator becomes psychic, I’m not holding my breath…), but the GlowCap is just the kind of IoT device that can truly make our lives a little simpler, and save money — and lives — in the process!

P.S.: I’ve tried it myself. It really works.

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New IDC report says IoT has reached tipping point for government

As you may know, I’ve been critical of the Obama Administration in the past for ignoring the Internet of Things’ potential. Maybe this report will light a fire under them!

IDC has just released a major report, The Coming of Age of the Internet of Things in Government. Research Director Massimiliano Claps concludes that:

“The Internet of Things is reaching a tipping point that will make it a sustainable paradigm for practical applications. The public sector’s use of the IoT is still limited but emerging strongly in the transport, public security, and environmental sustainability domains …. IoT applications in the public sector can span a variety of domains: public security, defense, environmental protection, transport, and health. In each of these domains, connected objects can provide situational awareness that can help citizens and government personnel act and react at the operational level, monitor the status or behavior of people and assets to make management decisions, and support very fine-grained, sensor-driven analytics that help with planning decisions.”

Couldn’t agree more!

The report says that despite the IoT’s promise to revolutionize a wide range of governmental services, most of the applications to date have focused on environmental monitoring, transportation and security. “The limitations have to do as much with the early stages of the technology as with the management approach to using it.”

It cites some of the emerging m-medicine services that promise to both improve patient care and reduce costs such as around-the-clock mobile vital signs monitoring.

The Coming of Age of the Internet of Things in Government urges agencies to:

“…consider multiple management factors that will influence the ability to harness the benefits of IoT, including the volume, variety, velocity and value of data that are going to be generated, the massive scale of the infrastructure, the complexity of governance, the financial sustainability and the legal aspects.”

I hope this report will prove the impetus for a major new emphasis on governmental applications for the IoT!