The Internet of Things and Retirement

September 2016

The Internet of Things is mostly about communication and often about commerce. It is poised to change health and retirement.

The Internet of Things has to do with everything around the home talking to each other – refrigerator, telephone, clock, watch, oven, stove, heating system, air conditioning. Appliances will soon become smart devices connecting to computers over the Internet. They will be capable of learning your behaviours and informing others when behaviours change.

This creates the potential for improved living.

The Internet of Things will allow caregivers – including family members – to be more aware of how elderly family members are doing. This may be of particular interest to the 45% of women 65+ who live alone.

The refrigerator will be able to track eating habits. The bed will know how long you sleep. Medication reminders can be set when needed. Heart rate, sugar level and breathing can be continuously tracked. Information can be monitored by a family doctor, health centre or monitoring service.

These tracking and monitoring services are unlikely to be free. Just as the Internet created a whole range of new fees for services we can no longer do without, it is likely The Internet of Things will result in additional fees focused around health and health care. There will also be a cost to install and maintain all this monitoring equipment.

The Internet of Things is about sharing very personal information over the Internet. It means a loss of privacy. More personal information transmitted over the Internet creates increased motivation for others to get hold of this information and use it for unintended purposes. Health information in the hands of insurance companies, for example, may affect insurance rates, the ability to obtain insurance and claim approval. In the hands of government agencies, this information could be used to determine the level of health benefits or services available to you.

Convenience comes with a cost.