HIGH – TECH
ENABLING EXPERIENCE DRIVEN INNOVATION
Within the next decade the internet could connect as many as 200 billion things – and not just machines such as cars or household appliances, but anything that you can fit a chip or sensor into – including humans.
These devices, collectively known as the Internet of Things, should make life simpler, even healthier, but can we trust them to look after us?
What’s next in the Internet of Things?
First it was portable, then it was wearable. It’s now ingestible and implantable… what’s next in the internet of things?
The internet of things (IoT) is transforming everyday physical objects that surround us into an ecosystem of information that is rapidly changing the way we live our lives. From refrigerators and cars, to parking spaces and houses, IoT is bringing more and more items into the digital fold every day.
Our homes, to give one example, could soon be tracking everything we do on a daily basis – from locking and unlocking the front door, to automatically ordering the groceries when the fridge is empty.
Whether we want this new level of automation, is another matter. But it won’t be long before it is the norm and a new evolution in technology once again changes our lives.
What will be the impact of IoT devices on humankind. Can they really change how we interact with one another?
What will daily life look like?
It’s 6am on Monday 1 October 2025. The device on your wrist has sensed that you’re waking up so it sends a message to your coffee machine to start brewing. You delay the coffee and go for a run instead. While you’re pounding the pavement, the sensors in your earphones detect an irregular heartbeat. The device sends an ECG readout to a cardiologist. He sees that the arrhythmias are just harmless ectopic beats and decides to take no further action.
Back home, you have coffee and you the empty cup in the dishwasher. The dishwasher is full, so it starts running. A sensor detects that the appliance is due for a service. It makes the appointment with an engineer and books a date in your diary, which you later confirm.
A couple of decades ago, dishwashers were one of the biggest causes of house-fires, but not anymore. The internet of things (IoT) – devices connected to each other over the internet – has made the world infinitely safer.
From self-driving cars to smart pills that measure our health from the inside, the internet in 2025 has become a custodian of our health and safety.
Just the beginning
This scenario may sound far-fetched, but the seeds of these developments have already been sown.
South Korean electronics company, LG, has developed earphones that double as a heart-rate monitor, and Israeli telemedicine firm, Aerotel Medical Systems, is one of a number of companies that provide technology that can remotely transmit real-time ECG results to medical centres for assessment.
Swiss drugmaker Novartis works with the digital medicine company, Proteus Digital Health, to develop tablets containing embedded microchips that can tell if patients have taken their medication. There are also smart pills on the market that contain built-in cameras and various sensors to measure pH levels, blood pressure, and temperatures.
And, although self-driving cars aren’t yet publically available, most automobile makers are extensively testing their vehicles both on public roads and in fenced areas. Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla, wants to make autonomous vehicles the standard by 2020, the same year Google expects that its own self-driving cars will be ready.
There are thousands more IoT devices, from crash helmets to implantable wireless microchips, that are designed, and are being designed, to make us safer. But are we naïve to assume that a device can be entrusted to watch out for us – better than ourselves.
For Olivier Ribet, vice president of Dassault Systèmes’ High Tech Industry, the key question is: “how do you determine when you allow [IoT] devices to take decisions on your behalf and when you don’t?”
“So far, all of these objects have explicitly asked you ‘do you want me to do that for you?’ Now, more and more, you start to see people saying we shouldn’t even question [devices taking decisions our behalf],” he adds.
If that’s the case, we have to be certain that we trust the devices. This is where testing becomes paramount. Using Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform, designers can simulate anything in a virtual environment, from a self-driving car on a motorway to a smart pill in a body, in order to understand every possible and unprecedented scenario before we use the products in real life.