We’ve discussed the Internet of Things (IoT) here a lot recently, especially in the context of health and the IoT subset of health wearables.

The concept isn’t brand-new, but a common nomenclature is far from agreed-upon. Engineers, academics, techies and designers have tried to create a system of classification, a taxonomy, for the Internet of Things — something to give some structure to the overall concept. (Here’s just one interesting example.)

How do you name all the different ways in which connectivity is affecting our lives today? The attempts that we’ve seen at a taxonomy are usually based upon the types or functionality of the technology, or it’s based on whether the technology has consumer or industrial application.

We’d like to propose a taxonomy that we haven’t seen before, based on you — the human at the center of it all. We’re looking at it in the context of consumer health, of course. We submit that there are four

  1. Embeddables — From contact lenses to tattoos, pills that include cameras and monitors to implanted chips, these IoT devices literally get under your skin. Think of them as things that would be in you.
  2. Wearables — Often activity and fitness-related, wearables rest on your person to collect data, e.g., bracelets, jewelry and wristbands. These are things on you.
  3. Holdables — A pen that simulcasts your notes to a video; a water bottle that tracks your hydration; or of course, your smartphone or other portable device and the apps in them. These items are within your reach, and you make the effort to carry them around. These are things near you.
  4. Surroundables — These items exist in your immediate environment, like the chair that alerts you when you’ve sat too long, the car that diverts you from traffic, and the home thermostat that learns from your behavior and the weather to minimize the energy needed to heat and cool your home. These are things around you.

These items are changing how we manage health. They’re altering how we handle our fitness, how we treat and prevent disease, and how we care for ourselves and our loved ones.

In the years ahead, healthcare will change even more, thanks to IoT devices.

Some futurists suggest that we’ll see data from our devices enable tactics from marketing to come into play in health, such as location- or event-based triggers.

Do you welcome or worry about this sea change? And what do you think of our taxonomy?