Feature Article

An Internet of You: Bringing Sensors Out of the Clinic into Our Lives

Posted in Medical Data by Brian Buntz on July 17, 2012

The healthcare system is ripe for disruption, according to some technologists. Ubiquitous sensors will be the change agents. Get ready for the “big kaboom.”

Despite the availability of powerful sensing technology, most people are ignorant of their own health metrics. We often know more about the health of our technological products than we do about our own bodies. As chairman and CEO of X Prize Foundation Peter Diamandis, MD, explains: “Today, my car, my airplane, my computer know more about their health status than I do, which is insane.” One of the main reasons for this knowledge gap is the average person’s lack of access to medical sensing technology, most of which is gated within doctors’ offices, hospitals and clinics. To monitor health metrics, most people only have a thermometer and a scale, which they rarely use.


The Power of Decentralisation
Famed economist Clayton Christensen has pointed out that as technology evolves, it has the power to spur disruptive innovations that make products simpler and less expensive and, hence, more accessible to a broad base of end users.

The computing industry is an obvious example of this principle at work. In the 1960s and 1970s, computers were enormous, expensive and difficult to use. One had to be practically an expert to operate one.

The debut of the microprocessor led to the development of the personal computer and, eventually, devices such as tablet computers and smartphones. In addition, computing technology, which costs a fraction of what it once did, is now ubiquitous in modern society. The smartphones that we carry around have billions of times more computing power than the large mainframes from decades ago. And computing technology has never been easier to use; it has been deskilled, converting the vast majority of the world’s population into regular users.

Eileen Bartholomew
Eileen Bartholomew

Healthcare: Next in Line for Disruption

The healthcare industry is poised to follow a trajectory similar to numerous other industries that have had their disruptive moments over the course of the past decades. “The whole context of deskilling and disrupting industries has been happening across so many other places, such as banking and finance, design and manufacturing,” says Eileen Bartholomew, Vice President, prize design, at X Prize Foundation. “Healthcare is kind of the last hold out of that transition—of that idea of exponential technology becoming cheaper, more accessible and easier to use,” she says. “I think health is the last domino to fall. And when it does fall, it is going to be a big kaboom.”

And with that kaboom, consumers, or, in this case, patients, will become empowered as never before. “[In the future], you may know more about your body and your health metrics than your doctor,” Bartholomew says. “Everybody, to some extent, can become their own doctor. And the health system will be used for what it is intended: that is, when something goes wrong, to help fix it.”

While such statements can sound radical, the status quo is not sustainable. “[This transformation ultimately] is not about replacing doctors, and replacing the system, it is about using what we have a heck of a lot more efficiently and judiciously,” Bartholomew says. “We have to change the conversation, and the only way to do that is to stop using the mass of people as a burden and turn them into an asset,” Bartholomew says. “Healthcare should be an asset for everyone. No one cares more about his or her health than the patient.” To fuel this transformation, patients need better tools and better information.

Advances in sensing technology will be a key driver of patient empowerment. “We envision a future where sensors will become not only more advanced and different and unique, but accessible in [unprecedented] ways,” says Bartholomew.

“You will see sensors embedded in your life—whether that is your phone, clothes, home or car,” she predicts. “They will not just be measuring the performance of the ‘Internet of things’ but the ‘Internet of you’—your metrics and your normal across-health information.”

In many ways, this transition will simply be an extension of what has come before. Clinicians have long used vital signs and biomarkers, for instance, to monitor patient health. But advances in sensing technology also will provide new metrics that will broaden our understanding of what it means to be healthy. That could encompass “novel ways of looking at everything from activity levels to sleeping patterns in a way that can predict, prevent, manage or even treat diseases in ways that we haven’t thought of,” Bartholomew says.

Competing to Disrupt Healthcare
To help make the future of healthcare a reality, The X Prize Foundation has launched two competitions:

  • The Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize, a US$10-million award that seeks to spur the development of a “portable, wireless device in the palm of your hand that monitors and diagnoses your health conditions,” according to the prize page.
  • The Nokia X Challenge, a US$2.25-million award to encourage breakthroughs in sensing technology to “bring about entirely new ways to monitor, access and improve consumer health.”

The ultimate goal of the prizes is to create a new healthcare technology ecosystem. While the winners of the competition will be recognised and rewarded, the real goal is to disrupt medicine and help bring it into a new age.

“The history of medicine happens behind behind closed doors,” Bartholomew says. “It is administered only by people who have [substantial] training.”

A growing number of people are beginning to view the healthcare status quo as broken. “I think we are starting to see frustration at every level—not just at the innovation level but at the patient level,” Bartholomew says. “There is frustration with the ‘go to the mountain approach’ to healthcare because we know that health happens everyday and there are known things that you can do to improve your health but you don’t have the tools to do it. The tools are still locked behind glass.”

The frustration is beginning to escalate among developers of medical technology as well as in patient communities. Part of the aggravation comes from the fact that our culture has seen technology revolutionise so many aspects of our lives while the basic healthcare dynamic remains largely unchanged. The patient gets sick, takes a trip to the doctor and sits in a waiting room before finally seeing the physician. The limitations of this model are even more apparent in rural areas. In many cases, patients with a significant health condition must drive long distances to see a specialist, who is only able to draw on a limited amount of patient data.

By contrast, look at how the banking industry has been transformed. “Fifty years ago, you couldn’t imagine accessing your banking information without going through a bank teller,” Bartholomew says. “Now, your entire financial [record] is transparent and available online—to anyone at any time.”

“We will see that same transition in healthcare. It will become a 24/7 personally owned thing,” she says. “We don’t see any other way to support the current system [given the] scale and growth that it will need to deliver the kind of care that we are going to have.”

Before launching the two aforementioned competitions, the X Prize Foundation spent months in meetings and doing research to figure out how to bring about the “deskilling and disrupting of medicine,” says Bartholomew. “The two concepts that emerged from this, one of which is the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize, are seeking to push not only the technology of sensing but also its integration, miniaturisation, and adaptation (meaning, understandability) into a device that a consumer could use for self-diagnosis,” she says.

The organisation realised that making their future vision of healthcare a reality would require several significant advances. “In addition to the integration work that will be required for tricorder teams, a lot of breakthroughs have to happen in sensor and sensing technology,” she says. Sensors perform the actual measurements; sensing technology collects data and makes a “so what?” analysis, Bartholomew adds.

The Biggest Splash in Healthcare
Time will tell which sensors and sensing technologies make the biggest splash in healthcare. Bartholomew says that she has great expectations for novel sensors that can detect central nervous system and brain-based disorders. Such sensors also can collect information on everything from mood to personality and behaviour. “This is still a big black box,” she says. “I am really excited to see the development of sensors that bring more clarity.”

Bartholomew cites Affectiva, a company that is developing novel ways of tracing emotion based on facial recognition and other types of information to assess levels of mood and emotion. “That is the beginning of cracking the code to brain-based behavioural diseases, brain-based function, mood, personality and all of the things that so many people suffer from,” she says. “People have no information and very little guidance to treat or manage some of their diseases. So I am looking forward personally to seeing some breakthroughs in that field that could change the way we diagnose, measure and manage these conditions.”

Brian Buntz
is Editor at Large of EMDT sister publication MD+DI

Find more content on:
No votes yet

Login to post comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Really great post, Thank you

Really great post, Thank you for sharing This knowledge.Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same level of content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up! happy birthday wishes

I had to pay on my own was

I had to pay on my own was for books and supplies. Otherwise, I received a free master’s degree.Judi Online


My friend mentioned to me your blog, so I thought I’d read it for myself. Very interesting insights, will be back for more!
instagram followers bot yahoo

Winning State Of Mind Bonus

Hmmm informative post, what actually I was looking for! Winning State Of Mind Bonus

Great post! I am actually

Great post! I am actually getting ready to across this information, is very helpful my friend. Also great blog here with all of the valuable information you have. Keep up the good work you are doing here.
buy one million youtube views

Enjoyed every bit of your

Enjoyed every bit of your blog.Really looking forward to read more. Really Cool. caviwipes

What I have found from your

What I have found from your site, it is actually highly content. You have spent long time for this post. It’s a very useful and interesting site.http://vettys.com/how-to-become-a-physician-assistant-a-straightforward-guide/

Hi I found your site by

Hi I found your site by mistake when i was searching yahoo for this acne issue, I must say your site is really helpful I also love the design, its amazing!. I don’t have the time at the moment to fully read your site but I have bookmarked it and also add your RSS feeds. I will be back in a day or two. thanks for a great site.
buy instagram followers free no survey

To monitor health metrics,

To monitor health metrics, most people only have a thermometer and a scale, which they rarely use.stamped concrete

I really like this post. It

I really like this post. It is one of the best posts that I’ve read in a long time. Thanks a lot for this really good post. drug rehab centers of texas

I also benefit from learning

I also benefit from learning the assessments, but learn that alot of people ought to stay on essay to try and add worth in the direction of the authentic weblog release.

Pretty good post. I just

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.
Astuce Clash of Clans

Thanks for this great post, i

Thanks for this great post, i find it very interesting and very well thought out and put together. I look forward to reading your work in the future.
Недвижимость в Монако

The first several months of

The first several months of my site there were no comments; just give it time; now they come in like crazy every day! Thanks.
porsche cayenne wheels


Thanks for sharing such a nice knowledge with us. A must read blog. payday loans in tennessee

dirty talking systems

I am grateful for your effort and the quality of content you give us. I definitely will tag on these advices!
dirty talking systems

health insurance for self employed

The information you have shared with us is really so great, nice effort!! health insurance for self employed

Computers were enormous,

Computers were enormous, lavish besides onerous to wear. Digit had to be virtually an specialist to manage single.free games

houston maids

Greetings! Your post is really excellent, if you have a possibility by posting such kind of more posts, I’ll comment again! houston maids

Angel Rio

Hmm!! This blog is really cool, I’m so lucky that I have reached here and got this awesome information.Remington electric shavers

Nice post! This is a very

Nice post! This is a very nice blog that I will definitively come back to more times this year! Thanks for informative post. dong ho deo tay nu

Of course they don't know

Of course they don't know about metric, because they are still lay.
penyebab gusi bengkak..
obat untuk gusi bengkak...
artikel tentang kesehatan.....

I just stumbled upon your

I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts.SEO Conference

Hi I found your site by

Hi I found your site by mistake when i was searching yahoo for this acne issue, I must say your site is really helpful I also love the design, its amazing!. I don’t have the time at the moment to fully read your site but I have bookmarked it and also add your RSS feeds. I will be back in a day or two. thanks for a great site.

cloud accounting software

I found your blog via Google while searching for such kinda informative post and your post looks very interesting for me. cloud accounting software

You have done a great job. I

You have done a great job. I will definitely dig it and personally recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site. girlsdoporn

I surprised with the analysis

I surprised with the analysis you made to make this particular publish incredible. Wonderful activity! girlsdoporn

I would like to thank you for

I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me to start my own BlogEngine blog now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a fine example of it. girlsdoporn

This blog is really great.

This blog is really great. The information here will surely be of some help to me. Thanks!.

Most people don't want to

Most people don't want to know about their health. It is may be because they are afraid to hear of something that they don't want to hear. - where to buy soundcloud plays

What a good blog you have

What a good blog you have here. Please update it more often. This topics is my interest. Thank you. . . girlsdoporn

payday loan

Really amazing web blog. Thanks for nice article. You can apply for another loan 72 hours after applying for your initial loan. Please be sure to disclose the fact that you have already applied for a loan when working with a lender to obtain a second loan. Now visit payday loan Thanks for sharing.

I was very pleased to find

I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

This is a fantastic website

This is a fantastic website and I can not recommend you guys enough. Full of useful resource and great layout very easy on the eyes. Please do keep up this great work... BetNesia

So many people are ignorant

So many people are ignorant of their own health metrics it is disturbing, you can see many of them getting scheduled for a lap band surgery and being surprised by the preliminary blood work they need to get done, and sometimes even by their results. Hopefully the development in health sensors will help people become more aware of their health status.

There was a lot of buzz over

There was a lot of buzz over the topic of Ubiquitous sensors through out the internet about a year ago. We didn't still got the services of the Ubiquitous sensors in a full pledged manner and a lot of people including me are not aware of the total functions of these sensors. This article had got me up by giving some precious information and I'm glad to read it out. Thanks for the share.
medium.com best web hosting reviews # wordpress.com Moroccan argan oil # vitamin c serum bitly.com # seo in phoenix medium.com # seo in san francisco medium.com

This is a very interesting

This is a very interesting article and it is amazing how technology has evolved in the past years. From LED surgical headlights to nanoscience, health environment is approaching a very high level. Things are getting faster and easier to use and this is a really good news for each patient.

So many people forget the

So many people forget the importance of being healthy, until they catch some weird disease or develop a chronic one. Dentistry could be very challenging if it weren't for quality services, for instance, composite fillings Williamsburg that many doctors offer at a discount in certain months.

There are many innovative

There are many innovative treatments these days for the patients who are struggling with different issues from their diseases. From a EverGo portable oxygen concentrator to pills with less side effects, the scientists have really worked to make the people's life easier.

Healthcare is a very tricky

Healthcare is a tricky environment and there are only a few people that can truly grasp its inner working. Reading otterbein.org you can find out more about assisted living, which could be the solution if you're caring for an elderly relative and need help.

Health Care

Now a days health care is becoming a big issue for all. The reason is that we are now neglecting our health due to busy in daily work. There are many technologies are invented for measuring diseases, health issues but people have no time for it. As a result people die due to carelessness of health. Clayton Christensen has observed that people are not aware of their health. She has invented a sensor which helps to analyze a human body to find out any health related issue. The technique is very useful to human-being as it shows an original data related to health.
Health Issues

It is very hard to find a

It is very hard to find a good addiction treatment center that works without spending too much money. There is an infinite number of possibilities nowadays that you can try in order to find something that is suited for you.

It is completely true that we

It is completely true that we do not have the statics of our health now-a-days as we are so much busy. It is really a shame. We are now taking more care of our technological products rather than our health. In medical science the use of sensing technology is really good. Now, the sensors are very much popular in the market and if we are going to search the use of sensors then we can find various things where sensors are used like in phones, in medical science, in automobile sector and in many more sectors we can find these sensors. So, what is the benefit we are getting after using these sensors. Lets take the example of sensors in cars. In cars sensors are used and are tracking the condition of our vehicle. When they track any error in our vehicle it will alert us in our dashboard of the vehicle. So, with the help of these sensors in automobile sector we can save our self from danger. As this industry is changing rapidly so, it is a bit tough for us to always keep track of the suitable technology available for our cars. We can go for repair and servicing center near to us and get our car updated.
German Auto Repair Norfolk, MA


The technology advanced a lot in the last decade especially in the medical field and there are some great medical devices that help people to monitorize their health and doctors to put correct diagnosis in a very short time. Moreover if you are interested in ordering a medical device there are a lot of companies such as http://ten-e.com/ that are providing quality medical package deliveries.

My son has been having these

My son has been having these back pain episodes that occur in the most unexpected moments of the day. I want to take him to a good doctor and my friends just recommended me Englishroadpediatrics, a team of doctors that they consider as being very good. I will see how it goes, we cannot postpone the visit to the doctor any longer.


With the advancement in the technology, many changes have occurred in the medical field. Manual operations have been replaced with automatic and compute methods. This has widened the scope for the medical field. Thanks for sharing the piece of information with us!!!
early pregnancy symptoms

This new range of medical

This new range of medical devices is quite extraordinary and it is amazing what kind of results they can reach in small amount of time. There is a physical medicine and nutrition blog that covers the latest technology that is on the market and the improvement in his patients's lives is amazing.

Internet is by far the

Internet is by far the largest scale applicability tool that we possess in order to considerably enhance the general quality of our lives in all the fields you can possibly think of. From Fiber Systems to ways of securing data transmission, from high tech devices to transfer medical knowledge into tools that can save thousands of live, internet is there to help us.

When I hear of medical

When I hear of medical breakthroughs, I cannot help myself of thinking about the Salem clinic, that basically saved my life. They were brave enough to go with a procedure that many doctors had doubts about before. But it was my only chance to recover my freedom. And I am so appreciative of what they have done.

Sensing technology must have to used in automotive sector.

Sensing technology is helping us in many ways and we are getting a lot of help because of this technology.I am completely agree with the things mentioned here is that now-a-days we people are very much busy in our work so that we are not doing proper check up of our health and it is because of we are not very much aware of the medical sensing technology. Sensors are now used in all areas and these things helps a lot in medical science. So, it is better to bring in to our normal live and sense things and alert us. If this sensing technology will implement on cars then just think how it come to be helpful. We can avoid car related problems as well as accidents. When some parts of our car not perform well then the sensing technology is going to be help us in different ways. I suggest to do a proper overall check for our car in proper time interval like I do for my Audi from a best Audi repair center in Portland to avoid car related problems. Car related problems mainly arise its parts not perform properly because of the wear and tear. So, It is preferable to do proper care of the vehicle and bring the sensing technology to the automotive sector.