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Here comes the 'Internet of Self'

Mike Elgan | Jan. 12, 2015
When the quantified self movement collides with the Internet of Things, the world becomes an extension of you.

Looking at this another way, the functioning of the light bulb becomes an extension of your physical body -- or at least, it's taking commands from your biological self.

The car that pulls over and parks when you're tired
The Biomechanics Institute in Valencia, Spain, has a project called HARKEN (Heart and Respiration In-Car Embedded Non-Intrusive Sensors) that focuses on seatbelts and seat fabrics that work together to monitor the driver's heart rate. Researchers expect that future iterations of the technology will prompt a car to automatically pull off the road and park when the sensors detect that the driver is getting drowsy. (The initial version may simply trigger an irritating beep.)

Conceptually, this is just like Misfit's Bolt light bulb. Biometric quantified self data is captured using sensors, then the data sends commands to an IoT device to initiate some physical change.

Volvo is working on the same problem with an entirely different kind of sensor. The automaker is testing infrared cameras that monitor the driver's face and eyes at all times to detect drowsiness. It looks at behaviors like slow blinking, eyes that aren't wide open, nodding and the position and angle of the driver's head.

Once sleepiness is detected, other systems could be triggered -- initiating actions ranging from alerts to automatic pulling over.

What's great about the Volvo approach is that the infrared sensors could also handle facial recognition. So when someone sits in the driver's seat, the system would automatically adjust the positions of seats and mirrors to accommodate that individual, with no input from the driver required.

Why the Internet of Self is inevitable
The marriage of biometric data and IoT devices -- the Internet of Self -- isn't a "maybe" technology. It's a certainty.

The reason is that the quantified self is going mainstream. I believe this will be accelerated with the shipping of the Apple Watch, which monitors the user's heart rate, and also the biometric monitoring products that are being built into most wearable devices, fitness bands and, in some cases, clothing. Quantified-self devices are cheap, proven and popular, and the category will only get better.

Meanwhile, the IoT is also definitely happening. Industry giants like Google, Samsung, Intel, Cisco and others are retooling to prepare for Internet connectivity and chip intelligence in ordinary objects of every description. Like quantified self technologies,  IoT systems (mostly cheap, low-power chips and radios) are inexpensive, and they work.

The only glue needed to connect the quantified self with the IoT is an app. It's just software. And easy-to-create software at that.

Once you realize that the "Internet of Self" is just an app away -- waiting only for you to strap on a biometric wearable and buy some inexpensive Internet-connected home appliances, you can start to imagine powerful outcomes.


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