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Microsoft Industry Blogs - Canada

When you work in the tech space, it becomes very easy to become over-acclimatized to the sheer pace of innovation that permeates the industry. After a while you can start to take it for granted – everything is constantly touted as new, groundbreaking, revolutionary, a paradigm shift and will literally change the world as we know it. There is so much noise around innovation and so much of what is labeled innovation is often iterative improvement or reinvention of things that already exist, that at times it can take something really special to make you sit back and really recognize a specific development, project or product as being something genuinely pioneering.

As Product Lead for Internet of Things (IoT) for Microsoft Canada, I am fortunate enough to be exposed to examples of this kind of real innovation on a frequent basis – whether it be oil & gas organizations leveraging detailed field data to optimize operations at massive scale, or global aerospace manufacturers leveraging operational data to provide new levels of insight on engine performance to their customers, or implementations of truly intelligent buildings allowing organizations to reduce energy and maintenance costs.

However, there is one project I have been engaged with recently that really brought this sense of true innovation into sharp focus, not only due to the advanced technical nature of the solution, but also due to the unique and impactful use case the product is designed to solve.

This specific product is being developed by Dymaxia Inc, and it is simply named the Anxiety Meter, but this modest name belies both the technical ingenuity of the solution as well as the potential impact it will have for its users. This solution is designed with a singular goal in mind – to help those with autism obtain real time feedback on their internal anxiety levels and offer them feedback on the fly to help to manage their anxiety.

It operates by taking biometric data from standard off the shelf wearable wristbands, which is analyzed using a patented , clinically validated algorithm and then sent to the cloud. The processed data is then summarized and presented back to the user via a smartphone application which provides impactful, visual guidance for the end user to take steps to remediate their anxiety on the fly. In addition, the historical biometric data is stored for each user in their own unique and private profile, which can be made available for their caregivers and family, allowing the support network around each user to have detailed visibility into the emotional health and state of the end user. This visibility to the user’s internal emotional state is critical – those diagnosed with autism often face challenges expressing their internal emotional state, and ensuring both the individual and the support network around them have increased visibility into levels of anxiety and stress can allow for effective and proactive efforts to remediate this before it results in an emotional outburst. (For more details check out their recent session as part of the keynote for the Microsoft Data Science summit here.)

So, think for a second about all of the elements of innovation converging to make this solution real. Firstly, we have access to highly accurate, cost effective, biometric sensors which offer monitoring capabilities which were rare outside of dedicated medical settings even 5 years ago – and at price points that are very accessible for many consumers. Secondly we have ubiquitous communications networks, which allow devices to communicate seamlessly with each other locally, as well as with the cloud. Finally, we have the cloud itself – accessible, scalable, advanced computing capability allowing for complex computational activity to happen in seconds, unbound from performance characteristics of the physical hardware the user is interacting with.

It’s these 3 elements converging that make the IoT space such a fertile ground for true innovation – increasingly cost effective sensors, seamless local and global communication capabilities, and the scalable nature of the cloud, all coming together to allow an entirely new category of products, services and applications to be delivered; and it is examples like the Anxiety Meter from Dymaxia which are precisely why the IoT space will be an incredible source for true technological innovation in the years to come.

If you are interested in sparking your own innovation within your organization, check out the whitepaper here for some concrete guidance on how to rise to the challenge of creating an IoT solution.