The Internet of Things (IoT) will reach and connect all aspects of life, ranging from home management to parking apps in smart cities. In the healthcare sector, pushing data into the cloud has already resulted in the growing adoption of telemedicine. From managing patients remotely to using handheld devices to input patient details and manage care, telemedicine brings flexibility to the extremely hectic healthcare environment. As more of our infrastructure becomes connected and interactive, however, the U.S. and many other countries are expected to graduate from in-depth patient tracking and monitoring to diagnosis and health maintenance. A key focus for such applications and capabilities is the treatment of various issues surrounding brain health.
In a report titled “The Digital Brain Health Market 2012–2020,” SharpBrains tracked developments at more than 50 companies that offer automated applications targeting brain functioning. Specifically, the companies offered Web-, mobile-, and biometrics-based solutions to assess, monitor, and improve cognition and brain functioning. Based on its findings, SharpBrains is assuming that more than 1 million adults (taking into account only North America) will undergo a yearly brain-health check-up via their tablets by 2020. Similarly, iPad-based cognitive screenings will inform more diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease and MCI than neuroimaging. In at least 10 countries, SharpBrains expects patients with multiple sclerosis to begin addressing their condition with a mix of online cognitive training and drug-based therapy.
Cognitive tests taken on mobile devices also will help athletes better diagnose and manage possible concussions. Other brain apps are targeting the treatment of insomnia and depression with cognitive treatment. For example, the report notes that the first brain-based bio-market will be cleared by the FDA within the next five years, enabling responses to depression treatment to be predicted on an individual basis. Just as fitness trackers are motivating people to get in shape, research and digital brain tools also will become available to help people improve their brain health on a day-to-day basis.
Such medical advances can only be quickly achieved if the vast networks and related technologies are in place to allow this “big data” to be sent, received, stored, secured, and more. The microwaves and RF industry is thus at the center of this trend. For an industry that has been largely vested in the communications and defense industries, enabling the IoT—whether for medical applications, smart cities, smart homes, or more—is the goal on the horizon.
The IoT takes us beyond just commercial or defense applications to a universal approach, where everything is connected—be it industrial, commercial, consumer, etc. Yet success for the IoT still will rely on the microwave market resolving technical challenges, overcoming interference, ensuring reliable performance, pushing new standards forward, performing thorough testing, etc.—in other words, doing what this industry has always done best. It’s an exciting time to be an individual in such a rapidly connecting world, but it’s even better to play such a prominent role in the IoT as part of the microwave industry.