Wearable technology has great potential to increase well-being for populations in developing regions with low-cost, low-powered devices to collect health data at the source, particularly during disasters. As described earlier, dislocated populations housed in temporary camps can easily become susceptible to outbreaks of diseases and symptomatic illnesses, such as fevers. Wristbands that monitor vital statistics such as heart rate, body temperature and even body chemistry could provide early detection of any onset of disease and thereby create an opportunity for preventative treatment.Wearable health monitor displaying heart rate
Another important function that wearables can play is tracking treatments given to patients providing healthcare practitioners with a patient history. This is valuable data that can be gathered at the source to determine what treatments are being effective and what treatments are not improving the patient’s condition. Wearable necklaces are in fact being used today to track child vaccinations in some regions.
The wearable necklaces contain low-cost tracking chips that store the medical data without the need to have more expensive, complicated devices available. For developing regions, this accessibility to healthcare presents a sea-change to enhancing the quality of life and extending life expectancy. In crisis situations, this health tracking data becomes even more critical since treatments are often given in a highly disorganized context and mistakes could prove life threatening for the patient. The tracking data could also prove to be instrumental in the containment of disease outbreaks in the weeks and months following the crisis.
Wearable pendants with onboard tracking chips
When used together with mobile medical applications, these types of wearables become a vital component of the healthcare ecosystem in developing countries. The mobile applications can use the data to deliver diagnosis in a more timely and accurate fashion. The flexibility and accessibility with which this kind of ecosystem can come together is a significant benefit during crisis situations where self-organization is the key to recovery.
Child vaccination tracking data being transferred from wearable necklace to mobile application
Developing regions rely heavily on agricultural production for sustainability and economic development. When natural disasters impact the agricultural landscape, the immediate crisis turns into a logistical quandary as aid struggles to reach those affected. In the months and years following the crisis, the ability to squeeze out inefficiencies becomes essential since every acre must provide the optimum yield to accelerate recovery.
Farmers can better monitor and respond to conditions in the fields with wearable devices that measure sun light, humidity, UVI, temperature, barometric pressure and other critical environmental factors. One of the major benefits sought after from IoT is the removal of inefficiencies and waste in an ecosystem where there are dependencies between a multitude of variables that must be tuned to optimize an outcome. Collecting environmental tracking data in this scenario helps to eliminate those inefficiencies.
Wearable environment tracker
In the agriculture sector, mobile applications could be used in conjunction with wearables to develop environmental maps of fields to track conditions on a very precise basis. This sort of intelligence becomes very valuable in responding to daily and longer term environmental factors that could impact agricultural yield.
The applications could not only deliver status but also assist with diagnosing or predicting crop heath based on the environment data and trending analysis. This level of insight from data collected using wearable sensors in the fields gives farmers in developing regions a tremendous asset to be aware of the health of the land, water, and crops.
Mobile agriculture intelligence application leveraging wearable tracking data
Wearable eyeware such as Google Glass (which is still very much an active project at Google) can be leveraged by farmers to inspect crops. The cost of eye wearables would need to drop dramatically for deployment in developing regions but advances in wearable technology and reduction in manufacturing costs open up the opportunity to use these devices. An interesting application of using wearables is the incorporation of augmented reality to present visualizations of crop information to the farmers. Imagine a farmer wearing Google Glasses and looking out over his fields and seeing visual alerts over a specific portion of land where additional irrigation may need to be conducted. Wearables can accelerate the time to abundance.
Using Google Glasses to inspect crops
Wearables and Economic Cloud Empowerment
Wearables and the Internet of Things promise to open up the collective intelligence of the global Web over cloud services. The networked intelligence capabilities are accessible from infrastructures deployed with minimal capital outlays of cheap wearable sensors, communications devices, and embedded tracking software. The Next Billion will be reached first via wearables, not mobile phones.
With intelligence and services flowing like rivers across geographic boundaries, it will become increasingly economically feasible to deliver much more advanced capabilities to developing regions. Consider for example, the agriculture usage scenario where a farmer can get access to market pricing data being feed to his eye wearable. The real-time access to this information could lead the farmer to decide to take some of his harvest to the market that same day to capitalize on the higher prices.
The needs and experiences identified in these types of deployments can be applied to the development of permaculture ecosystems in developing regions enabled by cloud-computing services reachable using wearable technology. One particular activity in the regeneration of the local agricultural environment is the preservation and management of water resources that are vital to the region’s economic future. Wearable sensor technology can be used to monitor and maintain the water resources to improve irrigation for optimizing produce yields using a feedback loop into backend analytical systems software powered by connected cloud services.
The socio-economic impact of this growing connected economy includes the development of new middle-classes in emerging and underdeveloped parts of the world. Innovative deployments of cloud-based computing services targeting wearable technology can leverage the extensive networked intelligence to aid developing regions with economic empowerment, access to better healthcare, increasing civic engagement and providing advanced educational opportunities for all.