Once you “friend” your refrigerator on Facebook (because it’s that smart, and knows about your dietary and nutritional habits than your doctor), healthcare will be unrecognizable even to fans of the tricorder.
If we are heading into the Singularity, our trajectory is going vertical – which means we can’t predict how the Internet of Things will change life itself.
One thing we can predict, though, is that we’ll be way beyond the tricorder of Star Trek. As sophisticated a diagnostic device as our fictional machine may be, we’re now looking at everything being “smart.” In other words, it will feed information back to us in ways far more advanced than anything we’re used to at the moment. Everything will be receiving, storing, and presenting health and other information to us — in short, everything will be a device.
Robb Fujioka, President and CoFounder of Fuhu, was asked to make a bold prediction about the future of healthcare, to which he said:
The wearables market and the Internet of Things market are going to be game changers. Right now, for the most part, everything is pull: We pull in data, news, and information on products and services. But the future of mobility and of technology, to a large degree, will be all about push. Machines are going to start understanding more and more complex patterns based on our behaviors and decisions, and once they understand patterns, they’ll start to understand affinities to a degree we can scarcely imagine now. Ultimately, we’ll be notified about different information and solutions that maybe we didn’t even know we wanted—or needed. With falling costs and the increased availability of this sort of tech, I think within the next year we’ll see some amazing things in healthcare and learning. Mobility and tech will, in effect, be redefined.
Pattern recognition is something that puts us ahead as humans – and, machines will both understand and be able to comment on our patterns.
They will not only replace our physicians, they will also become our advisors, counselors, and even (Ray Kurzweil predicts), friends. Artificial intelligence (AI) will harness information about you to augment your experience, and then feed in back through some sensory loop such as your wearable headgear, wristwatch, or other health fitness tracking device.
Assuming we still use the financial payments system (unless 3D printing makes money useless and facilitates the creation of anything on demand), digital pay apps will be the preferred mode of payments. Or, Chris Surdak, author of Data Crush, predicts, we’ll live in a barter economy.
Some of the areas of healthcare that the Internet of Things will immediately transform include:
- remote health monitoring (e.g., blood pressure and heart rate monitors, pacemakers, advanced hearing aids)
- emergency notification systems (for example, for seniors)
- one-touch replenishment of medical supplies
- traveling, microscopic or nanoscale diagnostic and surgical devices (as in Isaac Asimov’s visionary sci-fi book, Fantastic Voyage)
- robotic production of customized medical equipment
- quantified self with sensor-based clothing tracking vitals and other health data
- geospatial tracking of healthcare equipment
- wearable user online interfaces
- smart pill reminders
- ingestible health technology such as the FDA-approved digital pills
The regulatory framework won’t be able to keep up with technological changes. We’ll still have 19th- and 20-th century laws governing healthcare services (healthcare law) and products (FDA law). Smart lawyers will work with the rules so that companies with smart devices and disruptive technologies can flourish.