In the Internet of Everything, “Everything” Includes YOU

You wake up feeling rested thanks to systems that “know” the best temperatures and lighting for your personal sleep patterns. While brushing your teeth, a smart (very smart) mirror tracks your vital signs and pronounces all systems go. It then suggests a high-protein breakfast, since the intensive financial analysis on that day’s calendar will demand concentration. But first to the gym, where biometric sensors embedded in the fabric of your workout clothes track minute-by-minute progress.

A far-off future vision from Hollywood? Not at all. These technologies are on the horizon and may be impacting our daily lives in years to come. And they dovetail into a massive societal and technological shift that Cisco calls the Internet of Everything (IoE).


Today, there are “only” 10 billion connected “things” on the planet, but Cisco projects this number could explode to 50 billion connections by 2020. Tires, roads, refrigerators, supermarket shelves, jet engine parts, soil, you name it—all will be infused with cheap, tiny sensors that will collectively generate terabytes of data to be filtered for key insights. Those insights will then be shared with still more connected things. It’s all part of a convergence of emerging IoE technologies such as Big Data analytics, advanced collaboration, cloud, video, and mobility.

Closer to home, the Internet of Everything includes the Quantified Self movement. This infuses technology directly into people’s lives, collecting data and gleaning insights that may in the future improve health, happiness, and productivity. In a world of aging populations, chronic disease epidemics, and overburdened healthcare systems, Quantifiable Self could prove essential.

Here are just a few emerging Quantified Self technologies:

  • Video cameras with visual recognition could be useful in seeing pulse, respiration and blood/oxygen saturation
  • Textiles may act as sensors to monitor infants, athletes, the injured, or workers in high-risk environments
  • EKG iPhone case (FDA approved) may in the future provide a detailed electrocardiogram
  • Devices that measure air quality, pesticide levels in foods, and other environmental health factors
  • Sensors in pill cases could help track compliance with medication regimens
  • Electronic Tattoos may in the future be able to sense heart, brain, and muscle functions, along with body temperature and hydration levels
  • Accelerometers to capture motion and heart rhythms to determine sleep patterns, levels of movement, and occupational stress

These technologies may one day seamlessly capture data and help diagnose personal issues quickly and accurately. But to gain the benefits, we will need to change our behaviors.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eighty percent of Americans do not get enough exercise because workouts are, well, work. Quantified Self apps integrate behavior-change principles into games that motivate people to create positive new habits. Games, after all, are great motivators. They set defined goals, provide clear feedback while awarding points, delineate levels of competition, and encourage teamwork. Whether you are zapping aliens or trying to lose fat, state of play and positive emotions can go a long way.

The apps may also help us visualize our data in an appealing way, making it more interesting and understandable. Awareness is key to transformation and reinvention. If we can understand ourselves better, we can build personalized daily programs that focus on restful sleep, exercise, and eating healthy foods that will lead to improved selves.

Here are some Quantified Self apps with supporting tracking devices and sensors:

  • Nike FuelBand and Fitbit are personal activity trackers that monitor progress toward goals, and then allow results to be shared with friends. Crowd-funded Amiigo and Misfit Shine are related concepts that will be launched in the near future.
  • Zamzee measures physical activity; its website allows families to compete for points and prizes.
  • Scanadu devices (in development) will enable tracking of temperature, heart rate, pulse-wave transit time, urine composition, stress levels, and oximetry. The information can be shared with doctors and analyzed to determine trends.
  • InsideTracker’s home blood testing also provides recommendations to improve sleep, boost energy, reduce pain, or enhance performance.
  • Fujitsu Laboratories developed a solution to measures a person’s pulse in real time using facial imaging through a camera or webcam.

Quantified Self—and IoE as a whole—could have a key role to play in creating a better, healthier world. In particular, they could impact the management and understanding of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, which take a heavy toll on personal well-being and society.

But for health data to prove truly transformational, things need to change beyond our personal behaviors.  It will require an infrastructure to connect devices and analyze information. And beyond technical hurdles, privacy issues will need to be addressed. Organizations such as the not-for-profit Health Data Exploration project seek to uncover health insights from aggregate data captured from individuals and companies while ensuring security.

We all face vexing health issues in the coming years, whether as individuals or as citizens. By connecting the unconnected, we can be challenged to stay healthy and achieve extraordinary things.

Tell us what you think.

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  1. Having had the need for understanding of the available “self” data I decided I would work to create an application that can tie all the data together so an individual is empowered by having the most information available to them ever in history. is the campaign, I’ll be adding links to a demo and creating a video to better.

    • Thank you for taking on the challenge of making the Quantified Self a true reality! I have a few questions I can’t wait to ask. Let me know how you make out as you move along with your journey.

  2. what are the implications for finance? Will sensors recognize your financial needs and plans? Retirement?

    Will sensors automatically transfer your assets to other accounts? Government, your retirement, hackers?

    Can anyone elucidate?


    • The monitoring and management of personal finance is a great topic. As people live longer and debts mount, there should be plenty of opportunities to make positive impacts on people’s lives. The technology can monitor our life stages, income, assets, past purchases, and even current locations. It can then perform analysis and provide us (or our financial advisor, or other machines) with insights to guide decision-making. Technology could help to reduce a lot of the stress associated with managing our finances, but before we can really explore the implications we have to be willing to let it.

      Cisco conducted primary research to explore how consumers feel about allowing technology to play a greater role in their finances. We asked questions around three areas:

      • Privacy and personal service
      • In-person versus virtual customer service
      • People’s reliance on machines

      See the highlights of the Cisco Connected Experience Report for Retail Banking. Also check out our Connected Customer Experience reports on Retail and Healthcare. Let me know what you think.

  3. Great write-up, Rachael. At LNS Research, We speak with manufacturing and business leaders every week who are already leveraging or planning to use cloud, mobile, big data, and other collaboration-enabling technologies in their operations. The IoE is an interesting concept, and one that’s popping up in our discussions more and more. We recently wrote an article on the future of cloud (linked below) tech in manufacturing and we’ll be rolling out additional thoughts on the IoE soon.

    • Thanks for commenting and sharing your post. I agree. Information applications that provide data collection and real-time intelligence are key – to enabling the quantified self and to manufacturing processes. By providing the ability to capture data / events, analyze them in near or real-time, and get the information to the people (or machines) that know what to do with it, these technologies will have a huge impact on process efficiencies.

      The back-end connection to the cloud — along with the increased connections among things (using sensors), between machines, and to people — is creating tremendous opportunity, including the ability to reduce inventory and improve process speed and efficiency. We’re looking at ways to incorporate Cisco’s Unified Communications with this real-time intelligence to drive greater agility through increased visibility, along with the ability to take action with timely interventions.

      As you said, a few years ago we weren’t talking about many of these topics and now they’re rapidly making their way through the business world. Our team is doing IoE Value Assessments and Cloud consulting to help our customers keep up with these rapid changes and to understand the potential impact for them when they connect data, assets, and people in new ways. Exciting times!

  4. Although I do believe that IoE has great potential on so many levels, I think the greater benefits will be to the individual.

    The health-related examples you provided are just a sample of what IoE can do for us.

    I enjoyed the post. Thanks!