Human Applications

Human. Two types of IoT technology applications fall under the human setting. The first category is health and fitness. The second set—human productivity—involves using IoT technology to improve performance in the workplace.

IoT has potential for transformative change in human health. Using connected devices to continuously monitor patients as they live their lives—particularly those with chronic conditions such as diabetes—the Internet of Things can improve patient adherence to prescribed therapies, avoid hospitalizations (and post-hospitalization complications), and improve the quality of life for hundreds of millions of patients. This could have an economic impact of $170 billion to $1.6 trillion per year in 2025. Use of IoT systems could enable societal benefits worth more than $500 billion per year, based on the improved health of users and reduced cost of care for patients with chronic diseases.

Human productivity applications include use of augmented-reality devices such as goggles through which data can be displayed to guide the performance of factory workers. The goggles would present information such as instructions for physical tasks, which would appear to float in in the worker’s field of vision, allowing the worker to refer to the correct procedures without having to find a computer terminal. Using IoT data, companies can also redesign jobs and processes for greater efficiency and effectiveness. And IoT technology can help mobile workers in the field to stay connected and work more effectively. Together these applications could have an impact of $150 billion to $350 billion globally in 2025 (we have included the size of the human productivity benefits in the settings in which they can be achieved).

The adoption of IoT applications in health and fitness is well under way. Based on current usage and likely growth rates, we project that the economic impact of IoT in human health and wellness could be $170 billion to nearly $1.6 trillion globally in 2025. The largest source of value would be using IoT devices to monitor and treat illness ($170 billion to $1.1 trillion per year). Value would arise from improving quality of life and extending healthy life spans for patients with chronic illnesses, and reducing cost of treatment. The second-largest source of value for humans would be improved wellness—using data generated by fitness bands or other wearables to track and modify diet and exercise routines

The X Factor.

Using IoT systems to convince healthy people to change their living habits and to help sick patients adhere to doctors’ prescriptions would be a true breakthrough

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Why Is this Important

Emerging applications have the potential to transform a wide range of health-care therapies. Ingestibles and injectables—smart pills and nanobots—have the potential eventually to replace many surgeries with less invasive procedures that could offer faster recovery, reduced risk of complications, and lower cost. While these technologies are still in development, if they are adopted widely in the next ten years, they have the potential to raise the economic impact of IoT in health care substantially beyond the $1.6 trillion we estimate here. Another set of human applications aimed at raising workplace productivity is also emerging. We describe these applications in the human setting, but we assign their potential economic impact to settings where they will be used, such as offices, retail environments, and factories.