The Use of IoT During COVID-19

David Pittaway -
Illustration: © IoT For All

Have you ever wondered how Google Home is responding to your questions, or how your smart car can direct another vehicle in its peripherals? The answer to these questions is the Internet of Things (IoT).

IoT is the system of internet-connected devices that have the ability to collect and transfer data through a wireless network without the need for human involvement. Essentially, IoT is a common platform for devices to drop their data and communicate through a common language.

Once the data is collected, it’s then analyzed and distributed out to other devices, resulting in shared valuable information for enhanced user experience. In this article we will discuss how IoT is integrated into our everyday lives, the impact of COVID-19 on IoT and the benefits IoT offers to different fields of work.

IoT has been streamlined into numerous aspects of our lives. In general, there are five different applications of this technology: consumer, commercial, industrial, infrastructure, and military IoT.

Consumer IoT

This form of IoT is used to create convenience for consumers. These devices can be found in homes in the form of appliances, light fixtures, and voice assistance. Coffee brands Breville-Nespresso and BrewGenie have created personalized apps that will have your coffee machine brewing for you while you sit in another room. Using these apps, you can now transfer information through the IoT to your coffeemaker to perform an action for you without having to manually make your own coffee.

Commercial IoT

Commercial devices are commonly used in the healthcare and transportation industries. For example, the health industry uses devices to monitor irregular heart rates known as smart pacemakers and monitoring devices for patients while transport uses IoT for vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communication. Patients using implanted smart pacemakers and their cellphones will be able to transfer secure data through IoT to their health physicians without leaving their homes or needing to meet in person.

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

Used in the industrial field, devices such as digital control systems, smart agriculture, and big data are used to improve the industry standards. Smart farms can track the amount of moisture in the soil to see if the grounds need watering or not; this has reduced water consumption by 30%.

Infrastructure IoT

This form of IoT is used to connect smart cities with user-friendly apps and management systems. When a company decides to use an online server to organize all of their data in a systematic format, it’s an example of infrastructure IoT. This system has benefited companies significantly during quarantine with workers able to access files virtually instead of sifting through papers in a file cabinet within the office.

Military Things (IoMT)

These systems are used to create surveillance robots and human-wearable biometrics that are useful for the safety and practice of combat in the military field. For example, protocol chips have been implanted into soldiers allowing them to have building clearance to bases, creating a safe security system through IoT communication.

Role of IoT in COVID-19 Response

IoT during COVID-19 has played a great part in aiding the healthcare system to properly monitor virus-infected patients through intertwined networks and devices. The industry during these times has inevitably chosen to rely on this system of communication to protect people against the spread of the pandemic.

Telehealth Consultations

The contagious effect of Coronavirus led doctors to resort to seeing patients via video chat to possibly detect if someone has become a victim of the spread without having to meet in-person. Communicating through technology and keeping people at home is a great alternative to a mass rush into the hospital for acute versions of the virus. The Stanford Children’s Health Hospital has been able to virtually meet 620 patients per day as opposed to 20 per day before the outbreak.

Digital Diagnostics

Some versions of IoT devices have been used to keep track of health data after performing digital diagnostics. The smart thermometer Kinsa went as far as creating a map to display the spikes of fevers across the U.S as the virus spread. Compared to old-fashioned thermometers without IoT integration, smart versions can collect valuable data to be shared with health providers and keep track of trends across a region to better protect communities.

Remote Monitoring

Devices created to keep track of patients from their homes, remote IoT has been able to monitor chronic diseases of elderly patients that increase the risk of dying from the Coronavirus. Over $65 million has been put into the budget for remote monitoring; $5 million more than the initial quarterly revenue expectation.

Robot Assistance

A growing trend is the assistance of IoT robot use. Robots can be used to disinfect devices, clean hospitals and deliver medicine, all of which give healthcare workers more time to treat their patients. Danish company UVD Robots has started using IoT to make robots that can clean patient rooms and disinfect theaters in hospitals. China has been one of the first countries to these UVD robots to keep their health buildings clean during COVID-19.

Overall, IoT in healthcare over the past several years has been a prevalent factor in assisting workers with patient care even before the spread of the pandemic. For the growing elderly generation, IoT is able to monitor and assist patients with their everyday lives’. For example, a Fitbit or similar fitness band has been able to keep track of the consumer’s calorie intake, exercise habits, blood pressure, and provide calendar updates on upcoming health appointments. People living alone with conditions such as heart disease or diabetes can rely on these wireless devices as well to keep track of their bodies and hopefully stay healthy.

Final Thoughts

Physicians have been able to use IoT to not only monitor patients’ health but keep track of where tagged equipment is such as wheelchairs, defibrillators, oxygen tanks, and nebulizers. Along with keeping track of health equipment, IoT can manage pharmacy inventory control as well as checking on refrigerator temperature and humidity levels, and resolve machinery issues before being recognized by a healthcare worker. Medical IoT has aided the health industry and will continue to grow and evolve as different health issues arise around the world.

Author
David Pittaway - Creartive Content Writer, Aumcore

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Guest writers are IoT experts and enthusiasts interested in sharing their insights with the IoT industry through IoT For All. If you're interested in contributing to IoT For All, cli...
Guest writers are IoT experts and enthusiasts interested in sharing their insights with the IoT industry through IoT For All. If you're interested in contributing to IoT For All, cli...