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Often we discuss technology and the focus is on the specifications, the networks, the protocols, or the configurations.  I love these discussions as they make me happy.  Why?  Because I love to learn new things and in the world of technology there are many things to learn.  It is endless.

But, beyond the technology, in and of itself, how does technology actually help or hinder our daily lives?  Specifically, how is IoT (Internet of Things) technology impacting my daily life?

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The Internet of Things is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals, or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.  Making sense of this data and altering the way these machines function, results in IoT having some powerful and useful impacts on my life.

For me, I have realized several profound affects that have positively changed my life and perhaps changed me as well.  I would like to share three examples with you here.  There are dozens more that I can think of too.

IoT and Health

The first story that I wish to share with you is regarding IoT and medicine.  One aspect of IoT that is gaining traction is its applications in the medical field.  We see all sorts of smart devices that check your heart rate, measure your pulse, and help to manage your blood sugar levels.  All of these IoT technologies assist with proper medical care and collect data used to make living with a medical condition easier.

For me, I have sleep apnea.  Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.  If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night’s sleep, you might have sleep apnea.  I lived with it for many years and never thought that it affected me.  I have heard from others that I stopped breathing while sleeping.  But, so what?  I was completely unaware of it.

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When I went to earn my pilot’s license I decided to seek advice regarding this issue.  I researched it online, spoke to my doctor, was tested by a lab, and had a specialist prescribe a CPAP machine.  After I started using the CPAP machine, it changed my life.  I now sleep deeply and soundly.  In the past, I would drag through the afternoon due to exhaustion, now I am fresh and able to still perform at high levels throughout the whole day.  I am happier too.  My disposition has changed.

The downside is that I cannot sleep without my CPAP machine today.  After five years, I have grown seriously dependent on it for a restful sleep.  Even if I take an odd nap on a weekend, I must use it for the 30 to 60 minutes that I catch some sleep.

My CPAP machine logs all usage and provides a detailed breakdown of my sleep duration and analyzes the quality of sleep that I get.  It has a built-in cellular modem to report my sleep history to my doctor and to alert medical professionals about any abnormalities.  In fact, I use an auto-adjusting CPAP machines (APAP) that is designed to automatically adjust the amount of pressure delivered on a breathe by breathe basis.  These machines are typically software capable, or ‘smart’ machines, which can help you and your doctor fine tune your Obstructive Sleep Apnea therapy and monitor for effectiveness.

The National Sleep Foundation estimates that more than 18 million American adults suffer from sleep apnea.  Left untreated, it increases a person’s risk of developing health issues such as heart attacks, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even depression.

A good night’s sleep is refreshing, regenerative, and makes a significant impact to your waking hours.  This IoT enabled smart machine for health has dramatically improved my life.

IoT and Automobiles

The second vignette that I would like to share relates to my car.  I love my car.  It has been a terrific purchase.  Likely, the best car that I have ever owned from the assortment of 20+ vehicles purchased in my life so far.  It is getting older now so it lacks some of the fancy bells and whistles available on the newer models.  However, when I purchased it, what attracted me to it was the fact that it offered 8 airbags.  Having seen too many serious accidents during my travels and observing the travesty that a collision can have on a person’s life, I placed safety for my wife and myself at the top of the buying decision list when I went shopping for this SUV.  It has never disappointed even though I have never needed the airbags or any of the safety features to rescue me from my own stupidity.

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What also still makes me impressed with this car are the collision avoidance features.  I have a radar sensing system that is forward and rear facing.  It also protects me with alarms from blind spot lane changes.  I am embarrassed to tell you how many times that little alarm has stopped me from changing lanes into traffic.  It is a fantastic feature.  Would I have had an accident that may have warranted the airbag deployments if the radar alarm had not been active, yes, I expect that would be the case.  So, my SUV protects me and keeps me safer then my own driving skills and experience does.

Laundry

Finally, allow me to share with you a story about how IoT has helped me be cleaner and look sharper then in the past.  We purchased a new washer and dryer set and had them delivered and installed a couple of years ago.  They are very expensive machines, but we realized major savings because we purchased the demo units off the showroom floor with some minor physical blemishes on them.  You would not even see the marks unless I pointed them out to you.  I would not have purchased such fancy machines if they were not sold at 50% off as the normal retail price was about $5000.00 which was way too much.  But at $2500.00, they were the best deal in the store.  So, we elected to take advantage of the opportunity.

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What makes these machines so amazing is that they use IoT sensors, fuzzy logic, steam cleaning, and some low level artificial intelligence to permit us to realize perfect results every time we use them.  They are amazing technology that makes adjustments for each and every load.  This dynamic settings aspect eliminates the older command and control settings that effectively has one setting for all loads. This dynamic loads approach customizes the washing and drying processes uniquely for each load.  The result is wrinkle free clothes, more safe washing for bright colours, and a cleaner wash.  The dryer, which is historically the biggest draw of electricity in a home, is far more efficient too.  By using steam to dry, it saves on electricity and ultimately reduces greenhouse gases.  So, we get clean clothes and help to protect the environment too.

Conclusions

IoT is now invading our daily lives in so many ways.  It is largely transparent to us users.  However, if an IoT feature is absent from a modern machine, it performs at a much lower level.  We almost take these inherent IoT features for granted these days.  But as IoT seeps deeper and deeper into our daily lives, it will enhance the quality of life that we enjoy.  Technology can be rooted into our lives and change them for the better.   IoT technology provides benefits that we have never seen before its arrival.  I am excited to learn what is next and how making our live “instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent” will help us all live better in the years to come.

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About the Author:

Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies.

He is a business and technology consultant. Over the past 15 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).

Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V). 

He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.

He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario.  For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section. 

He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has earned 15 badges in next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, and more.