What is IoT? How does it impact the future of dentistry?
IoT is a popular term that’s often used in the tech industry. It’s an acronym for the latest technology that’s being developed by the biggest tech corporations in the world. IoT stands for “Internet of Things”, a technology that integrates devices and human experience. The principal benefit of IoT technology is the ability to optimize data exchange and store the information on a secure cloud server.
IoT will soon integrate dentistry and drive the industry into the next generation. The technology exists and top companies such as Microsoft, IBM, and Apple are spending ridiculous amounts of money in research and development. The entire healthcare industry will have to adopt IoT technology for it’s efficiency with data exchange and storage, security of information, and workplace optimization.
How does it work?
The technology works by connecting sensors, also known as beacons, with mobile devices such as phones or tablets. The sensor is built on a hub device (single board computer) which detects Bluetooth signal from a mobile device. The mobile device downloads the software that’s installed on the hub device and the user experiences the unique system by communicating with other apps on the mobile device. Sound strange? Well, here’s an in-depth explanation of how it works.
- It all starts with an app. In this case, we’ll say a dental app, one that was created to improve workflow efficiency for dentists. The app is created for a specific operating system, like Android or Apple iOS. The user downloads the app on their mobile device and turns on Bluetooth.
- The actual IoT technology is developed as a software. And it’s installed onto a smaller computer with a built-in beacon. These smaller computers are called single-board computers and are often called hub devices. They look like little boxes with USB and HDMI connection ports. The IoT software is managed by a cloud computing software (CCS) that provides cloud security and protection for all data. An example of CCS software is Microsoft’s highly popular Azure.
- The beacon that’s built in the single-board computer detects the Bluetooth signal from the mobile device. The single-board computer’s software then downloads onto the mobile device.
- Remember that I said the single-board computer was a little box with USB and HDMI connection ports? Well, those ports are used to connect hardware such as monitors, keyboards, mouse, cameras, etc. When the IoT software downloads to the mobile device, the user, the mobile device, and the hub become connected.
- The User can now enter and exchange data into the cloud system by either using the mobile device or the installed hardware.
The user experience depends on the software that’s installed in the single-board computer. Some software allows the user to communicate with the system by facial recognition and hand movement. Other software technology is created to use scanners that upload data to the hub. Some companies such as Citrix corporation, are developing workspace IoT technology specifically for the healthcare industry.
How can it impact dentistry?
At this point, as much as I hate to say it like this, the possibilities are endless. Why? Because there are software engineers who can write the code to create software and apps that improve workplace efficiency and data collection.
With this technology, it’s easy to image the future of dentistry. It all starts with IoT cloud innovation. Scanners can be created to detect oral disease and upload the data into a cloud server. Patient records are updated and stored instantaneously. X-Rays are examined in depth by using hand motions. And the entire clinic can be become a smart environment that streamlines all processes.