Technical progress of the last few decades has been quite remarkable. The trend for more embedded electronics is probably one of the main driving forces. When we then add mobile radio capabilities into the mix, we move into the IoE era and the possibilities become endless.

The latest incarnation of the cell phone network will offer internet connectivity and possibilities that could only be dreamt of previously. Depending on your standpoint this will either be a frightening or fascinating prospect. In any case, this Internet of Everything will no doubt have many beneficial effects. This is particularly true when it comes to health care applications.

We have already reported that the German Telekom is currently in the process of rolling out a 5G Europe-wide IoT network. Compared with the 4G system the new network offers not only greater capacity and higher data rates, but also allows a higher number of simultaneously connected devices and higher system spectral efficiency. In addition, IoT devices integrated into the Internet will use less energy. When you add that together with the rapid advances in sensor technology and nanostructures, it’s no surprise that a whole slew of novel applications are starting to appear as the IoT turns into the IoE.

A case in point is this novel ‘smart bandage’ concept, which is beginning to attract a fair dose of press hype. It is conceivable that sensors embedded in a medical dressing could continuously monitor the wound healing process and send alerts to medical personnel when an infection is detected. Doesn’t this seem somewhat unrealistic? Will the patient not be aware that something is wrong? Maybe pain is not a valid indicator of biological dysfunction. The problem is that we all have different thresholds; some stalwarts may endure the pain and only end up visiting a doctor as a last resort when the simple infection has developed into something nastier. Other patients will be convinced that a slight twinge is evidence of a life threatening condition. An objective assessment of the patient’s state of health will not only be reassuring to the patient, but also lead to a more efficient use of medical resources and reduced health care costs.

For this reason, band-aids with sensors and 5G network interfaces seem like a win-win formula. They will give the doctor an early indication of problems and may even be able to run rudimentary diagnostics to indicate the cause of the problem. Instead of long waiting times for appointments and expensive laboratory tests we could, for example get an immediate recommendation of an effective antibiotic. This is just one small example of the many benefits that the IoE will eventually bring to medical care in the future.