It’s no easy task estimating the value of the Internet of things. The varied applications stretch from traffic control to remote monitoring for chicken coops to oil and gas drilling. The healthcare industry has been one of the early adopters of machine to machine communication, primarily through medical devices according to Chris Kuntz, marketing director for technology company, ThingWorx.
As the M2M communication market matures, he sees medical device and other healthcare-oriented companies moving beyond simply transmitting data from sensors to devices to computers to finding new ways to build value with this technology. The diversity of applications is also shifting to include biotechnology and next-generation genomics to remote monitoring for patients and reducing hospital-acquired infections.
Based in Exton, Pennsylvania, ThingWorx has a software platform that lets companies develop applications for connected devices. Earlier this year in a report on disruptive technology, McKinsey Global Institute estimated the Internet of things could create an economic impact of $1.1 trillion to $2.5 trillion by 2025 in healthcare alone. Internet of things includes tracking devices that power the quantified self movement to remote monitoring of patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes. The idea is by keeping a closer eye on these patients, emerging problems can be caught earlier and reduce hospitalization costs.
Such is the level of demand that ThingWorx formed a distribution agreement with global resellers JAL21 — a milestone it had not planned to meet until 2014. “Demand has been so big and opportunities are cropping up all over the place. We are growing rapidly. When you look today at the number of applications people are building in this space, it’s enormous.”
Biotechnology Earlier this month ThingWorx added molecular diagnostics company Biocartis to its customer base. The Belgium-based company’s technology platforms are designed to analyze biomarkers to assess risk factors for certain conditions and to develop more personalized treatments. Thingworx also has a customer that develops tools for blood analysis for lab animals called Sysmex.
Telemedicine Another form of remote monitoring where Kuntz sees relevance for its technology is interpreting how active a patient is based on how often they use a particular device. Its technology could help devices monitor usage of, say, an analyzer for blood glucose levels a month. If it’s not being used enough, it might raise red flag.
“The problem to this point has been that most companies have focused on the problem of connecting to their devices and not deriving value [by] integrating them into a business process.”
Predictive maintenance Although this isn’t restricted to healthcare, it predictive maintenance certainly applies. One way to think of predictive maintenance is remote monitoring for devices and machines. Maintenance work is only carried out of the device or machine needs to be fixed or enhanced. The condition of the device is constantly monitored. The idea is this approach can produce better response times, conserve resources for when they are needed and reduces costs.
Kuntz said ThingWorx is also talking to several startups in the remote monitoring space on ways to use its software. One, for example, will focus on sterilization equipment to cut down on cases of C.difficile.