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IoT showcase: Foot-tech and magic beans

Part of the problem with the Internet of Things is imagining how it will really work in practice. This is difficult for businesses, confronted by a raft of data and security challenges, and can prove extremely confusing for consumers.

That is why I was interested to attend the IoTUK showcase this morning. It highlighted 12 SMEs in the health sector offering some very practical use cases for IoT.

Those showcased were cherry picked from 45 applications and featured a diverse range of new technology, including an internet enabled approach to safer road works (HRS), a temperature enabled baby’s dummy (Pacifi-i) and a search engine for IoT (thingful).

The two ideas that struck me as the most interesting though were sensor enabled footwear for those who need it and some very multi-purpose “magic beans”.

Nifty foot-tech for diabetes, MS and Parkinson’s

Imagine if your feet went a little numb and you were prone to tripping? This is exactly what happens to a lot of people with diabetes, MS and Parkinson’s. The solution from Walk with Path is an insole which provides targeted vibrations to help guide a patient’s path. The app will then collate the data so medical professionals can map mobility levels against medication taken and other external factors.

The second related product Walk with Path had on display was a shoe for those with Parkinson’s who suffer from “freezing gait” – or the small shuffling footstep which characterises the disease. In practice this trainer shines a light on the floor in front of the wearer to help guide their path. And has already proved highly effective in clinical trials.

Magic beans which transform your surroundings into big data buttons…

BeanIoT doesn’t look that impressive on a casual glance but these smart beans could help deliver all the sci-fi promise that that Internet of Things is tipped for.

Brainchild of “one-man-startup” Andrew Holland, he describes BeanIoT as a “secure, tamper-proof trusted IoT end-node”. In their physical form these “beans” look like pebbles and can detect air quality, movement and gesturing, temperature, pressure and humidity.  

The potential in these wearable big data generators, explains Holland, is they can be used individually or in a mesh – controlled via your smartphone – to create a true “edge-to-edge” network.

This means you could swipe the air with a bean to control the temperature in your home. Locate your keys before you leave the house. Or simply pop a bean in a postal package to track that it is not dropped or overheated in transit. Many individual use cases are available elsewhere – but not collectively – which makes the business and personal potential very high.

Due to go to market in Q4 2016 there are lots of details, like pricing, that have not been ironed out yet. But Holland’s big idea is to ensure that all the data belongs to the user.

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