The role of IoT sensors in the COVID-19 fight

As the entire world continues fighting the same enemy, consumers and organizations are embracing new technologies and discovering their perks. IoT sensor technologies have played a major role.

Sensors have helped people overcome the pandemic’s worst phase. This outbreak may have changed perceptions of IoT forever. In times of physical distancing, IoT has allowed remote diagnosis as well as treatment of patients. It has also paved the way for the delivery of essential medical equipment and medicine to isolated areas.

During the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, IoT has played a pivotal part in properly monitoring patients who are virus-infected through devices and intertwined networks. The industry has inevitably selected to depend on this communication system to safeguard people against the spreading of the virus. Different applications of IoT in the healthcare sector include: 

  • Telehealth Consultations The virus’ contagious effect led physicians to resort to viewing patients through video chat to detect if the patient has fallen prey to the virus without meeting in-person. Communication through technology and confining people indoors is an excellent alternative to the mass rush seen at hospitals and nursing homes for the virus’ acute versions. 
  • Digital Diagnostics Various forms of IoT devices are used for tracking health data after performing digital diagnostics. The emergence of the smart thermometers by Kinsa as opposed to traditional thermometers can collect valuable data to share with health experts and to track trends to better protect communities.
  • Remote Monitoring Remote IoT is capable of monitoring elderly patients’ chronic diseases that boost the risk of death from the deadly virus. 
  • Robot Assistance The use of IoT robots is a growing trend. They are used for disinfecting devices, cleaning hospitals, and delivering medicines, thus giving healthcare workers more time to treat their patients. China is the first country to use UVD robots made by a Danish company for keeping their health buildings clean at the time of the crisis. These robots use IoT and help to disinfect treatment areas in nursing homes and clean patient rooms. 

IoT in healthcare in the last couple of years has assisted workers, especially with patient care, even before the outbreak. In the case of the elderly, IoT tech is capable of monitoring and assisting people with their day-to-day living. Fitbit, for instance, is capable of tracking blood pressure, exercise, and calorie intake while also offering calendar updates, especially on any upcoming health appointment. Those residing alone with conditions like diabetes or heart disease can depend on these wireless devices to keep track of their body and stay healthy. 

Apart from the healthcare sector, IoT sensors have also flourished in other areas: 

  • Work from Home and IoT: The Internet of Things includes four components: sensors, networks, cloud, and applications. The outbreak pushed their adoption as well as implementation to the utmost with the sudden work from home (WFH) trends. Remote working has turned into the standard for companies since the pandemic hit in and is likely to continue. The best part: it offers flexibility and less time on home-to-work trips. IoT sensor and the networks behind them have made work more appealing and a hassle-free option for companies. 
  • Blockchain and IoT: Through blockchain, people can share any real-time information/transaction between pertinent parties available as nodes in the chain in an immutable and secure fashion. This is a time where every country is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of blockchain for sharing information earlier may have helped save the world from so much death and pain. This is a part where blockchain and IoT converged with information coming from nodes/sensors and travelling through available networks for processing in the cloud to be presented through applications for authorities and health workers. In short, the data can be secured all the way through blockchain. 
  • E-commerce and IoT: With supply chain network disruptions owing to the outbreak, inventory control turned into a big challenge for wholesalers and retailers at the time of the lockdown. It is here where IoT has paid off and turned into a means to offer more transparent and faster services to consumers.

The global IoT sensor market for all verticals and not just healthcare is expected to grow by 42% annually until 2023, reaching $40 billion in that year, according to projections by Market Research Future.

North America holds the biggest market share globally, while Texas Instruments, TE Connectivity, Analog Devices, Broadcom and Honeywell International are among the key players from the U.S. Key vendors based in other countries include STMicroelectronics, Infineon Technologies AG, Robert Bosch GmbH, Johnson Controls International, and Sony.

With the pivotal role of in different applications, it is not an exaggeration to say that COVID-19 has turned into a catalyst for IoT. 

Ehtesham Peerzade is content writer at Market Research Future. He holds an MBA from Pune University.

Editor's Note: Medtech and COVID-19 will be discussed at Fierce Medtech Innovation Week, kicking off April 26-28. Presentations are available online and registration is free.

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