Connected Devices Yield Data

3/5/2013

Sensors are everywhere these days. They are in shoes, watches, thermostats, smartphones, and a host of other everyday items. As we move toward a more connected world, data from all of these devices will need to be available for consumers’ to put to use. Technology is enabling solutions to make this sensor data more easily accessible.

As rumors about Apple creating a smart watch continue to swirl, the connected watch is a prime example of the rise of the ubiquitous connected device. While not all smart watches will be embedded with sensors, many fitness watches include a variety of sensors for tracking workouts and vital signs. A number of devices have come to market, such as the latest version of Jawbone’s UP, www.jawbone.com, which tracks steps, sleep, and calories, among other data points.

A recent study from Gartner, www.gartner.com, predicts as consumers adopt more connected devices, their digital lives will continue to transition from the PC to a personal could-driven world. Gartner says consumers will use a number of connected, sensor-enabled devices in their lives, and they will need applications and services that create an ecosystem for the information.


Gartner uses the term “cognizant computing” saying it “evolves the connected device and personal cloud service into an activity of seamless and frictionless integration connected to sensor-driven ‘invisible’ devices that are optimized for a particular set of functions,” according to Michael Gartenberg, research director at Gartner.

In this scenario, the devices that use sensors and provide the data fade into the background, and it is instead the service or ecosystem that the consumer interacts with the most. It’s the analysis of the data that’s valuable. Gartner lists cognizant devices such as wristwatches, key fobs, thermostats, and shoes, and says these can become more valuable when linked to services that extend their use. But the devices need to tie into a larger ecosystem to reach their full potential.

The industry is seeing a move to the cloud not just in the consumer world, but in the enterprise as well. Microsoft Corp., www.microsoft.com, recently announced a number of healthcare organizations that are using its cloud solutions for the enterprise, and Qualcomm, www.qualcomm.com, and WebMD, www.webmd.com, announced they will work together to help make information from various devices easier to use.

Qualcomm Life and WebMD say they will help users access and manage wireless health data from a wide array of fitness, wellness, and medical devices. They want to make biometric data available through an open ecosystem of digital health apps and third-party devices.

Helping consumers use and manage the data from their connected devices will be a major focus of companies going forward. In many cases, the value of the data will determine the value of the device.

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