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'Personal health IT' devices among top IoT uses

When the Harvard Business Review (HBR) checks in on a business or social phenomenon, it’s usually instructive to take notice.

In this instance, the HBR’s online edition looks at the Internet of Things (IoT), and finds that the “quantified self” — using health, personal fitness and wellness trackers to measure basic body metrics — is one of the most popular ways that people actually use the IoT.

For the record, I call this stuff “personal health IT.”

Authors H. James Wilson, Baiju Shah and Brian Whipple of the Accenture consulting firm did an “open analysis” of IoT user behavior at home, examining 1,000 IoT technologies and more than 279,000 early adopter interactions with IoT devices. They found that 80,899 of the interactions involved trackers — the second highest category.

Open source analysis uses anonymized data that has been made publicly available, such as company reports and web site and economic data.

The Accenture guys found the top use of IoT in the home was, perhaps surprisingly, for security applications, such as remote smartphone-controlled home monitoring and surveillance. That use case accounted for 99,207 interactions.

The HBR crew notes, as many tech observers have, that IoT applications are already well established in the industrial realm, monitoring and automating manufacturing processes.

Now, though, “from our research, we’re seeing a more human-centric category of IoT activity starting to emerge. It’s less about automation and more about personal augmentation,” the authors write.

Among this personal augmentation are such self-quantifying metrics as body mass index (performed nicely by my Withings smart body analyzer scale and smartphone app, for example); tracking sleep patterns (handled by my trusty Jawbone Up2 band and its app); and measuring levels of daily activity (thank you,  Apple Watch, cheapo sport edition).

“The devices that do this, primarily wristbands with embedded sensors and software, are among the Internet-enabled consumer products that have taken off the fastest,” the HBR story notes.