The first impressions of the tech on display at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas might leave some scratching their heads. From Intel synchronising 100 drones to play Beethoven’s 5th Symphony to Samsung’s weight monitoring ‘smart belts’, there are many innovations on offer with seemingly limited practical value. However, amid exhibits such as games consoles for dogs and self-cleaning toilets, one theme emerged – the Internet of Things (IoT) and ‘smart tech’ has arrived, with growing interest in IoT-enabled devices among consumers.

Beyond the consumer-led innovations on show at CES, many businesses will also be looking to grow their stake in the IoT, whether through providing the infrastructure on which it rests, or by integrating the IoT into the workplace by allowing employees to work via their connected devices. And, with over 6.4 billion active ‘Things’ set to operate within the IoT this year, we’re likely to hear much more about it as 2016 unfolds.  

The NHS has been an early adopter. One patient transport service has recently deployed GPS and telematics monitoring technology in its vehicles to transmit information to a central analytics platform, helping to improve the safety and efficiency of its ambulance drivers, for example. There is also great potential and demand for smart tech in the NHS where patient care and treatment are concerned.

In our recent survey, The NHS Digital Health Check, we found that 81% of us would like to see more use of connected devices in healthcare. The most popular applications of connected technology were to monitor vulnerable patients (50%), to monitor patients at home (44%) and to help patients follow a diet (39%) or course of medication (36%). The NHS is actually already experimenting in the area of remote monitoring of patients; via its pilot programme of ‘Test Beds’, evaluating the real world impact of new technologies for better patient care and improved value for money for taxpayers.

As the digitalisation of public services becomes more mainstream, the potential of the IoT to transform operations and have a real impact on the way in which a number of services are delivered is significant. The IoT may prove to be a valuable asset in the government’s move toward its ‘Digital by Default’ goal