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Finding a niche for the Internet of Things


Michael Dempsey

Economist Intelligence Unit

22 September 2014

PA’s Rob Lambert, technology expert, is extensively quoted in an article about the Internet of Things (IoT) in an Economist Intelligence Unit article. The article explains how devising an Internet-connected object with a viable business model has proved elusive for many organisations.

Rob discusses how devices can fit into an IoT world and some of the projects from PA that have met clear commercial needs that have been identified by the client. Rob says: “The IoT is a wonderful, seductive idea but the world is still struggling to answer the question ‘where is the business case?’”.

The article goes on to say: “…healthcare is one area where PA’s customers have had no problem finding a business case for connected devise. The latest invention to roll out of the company’s Cambridge Technology Centre is a wearable health patch. This delivers medication through to a patient arm’s while allowing doctors to monitor usage and dosage. The idea is to give patients an improved, personal healthcare regime through specific updates transmitted to their physician.”

The article goes on to explain more about PA’s health patch: “The challenge to PA’s design team was to combine a bag of vital technical functions in a patch that would sit unobtrusively on the human arm. Within a one inch diameter circle they managed to fit a sensor, some data processing and then storage for this data. Then there was a need to manage the power for the device to keep it running for a prolonged period. All of this had to be connected to a transmitter linking the patch to wireless communications.”

Rob explains that cramming this many functions into such a limited space was a tough job. The client’s primary concern was not the impressive technical feat but the cost.

However, with massive production volumes in prospect allied to the diminished price of computer chips and information processing, Rob estimates the unit cost of each patch to be in mere pennies.

The article concludes by stating that PA’s health patch represents a marriage of design, innovation and mass market economics, which started out from a defined clinical need.

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