As a guy who actually wears a watch I kept half an eye on Apple’s keynote via a live blog yesterday. What interested me most is the focus on the device as a tool for medical research. Apple’s announcement included support for ResearchKit, a set of APIs that will let organizations easily write apps to collect frequent, regular data from potentially millions of end users.
And researchers at Mount Sinai are already starting with an app dedicated to asthma, a condition that impacts over 25 million people in the US, according to the CDC. And that’s just what I see on the app store today – other sources report apps on the way for Parkinson’s, diabetes, and breast cancer. Wow.
The implications on networks are staggering. These watches are going to be everywhere. For local area networks, whether in shopping malls, hotel rooms or university classrooms, these devices, all enabled with WLAN (802.11n onlyaccording to the specs), will represent yet another device for network administrators to deal with. The data that the watches generate will then be carried to academic research networks where it will be stored, analyzed and shared. And when you’re talking about diabetes, which impacts nearly 12% of the US population, you are talking about VERY large numbers indeed.
Whether or not Apple Watch succeeds in the market (and there are plenty of people who are already saying it’s a disappointment), I believe it represents the most famous example of an unstoppable trend in modern healthcare – the practice of medicine outside the walls of the hospital using personal sensors to collect data. Those personal sensors will be large in number, will generate huge amounts of network traffic, and will profoundly change how we treat any number of medical conditions. And whether you are responsible for managing a research network or are just providing networking for employees and guests, you should ask yourself this question: Is my network ready for ANOTHER massive uptick in connected devices and data usage?