Where quality of experience means quality of life!
There are many acronyms that make the internet of things so beguiling and bewildering. The latest, PWD (persons with disabilities) should be added near the top of the list of “IoT Most Significant Markets”.
Internet of Things and persons with disabilities
Major ICT events focusing on PWD or sponsoring PWD-tech panels now have a solid history of attracting innovators of assistive technologies (AT). PWD amount to about 15 percent of the world’s population – over a billion people of all ages living with some form of physical, sensory, or cognitive disability. They rightly are felt to be “a pretty sizable market”. Many apps and connected devices benefit mainstream users as well as PWD. Wearables, like watches that get your messages, are more familiar than the speech synthesizer that lets astrophysicist Stephen Hawking give his own lectures. Meanwhile, concepts like “mobile” and “navigation”, which seem pretty basic to mainstream audiences, can be momentous challenges for PWD.
Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair-mounted tablet has a special input interface that enables him to type and control a mouse. Using purpose-built apps he can surf the web, use e-mail, and more. Looking into the near future of assistive technologies, the seeing-impaired may benefit from connected insoles to navigate on their own feet in smart cities. Already AAL (ambient assisted living) is a development in home automation and telecare that helps people live independently at home.
Thus the more connected persons with disabilities are, the more independent they can be. But the more self-reliant the IoT makes them, the more dependent they are on how well connected objects and services perform.
Good application performance is key to quality of life
If apps crash or networks are not transmitting data properly, these shortcomings can greatly affect quality of life. For people with mobility issues or sensory impairments who rely on smart things to live independently, poorly performing AT can be anxiety-inducing, dangerous, or even life-threatening. Consequently, it is vital – in every sense of the word – to first of all make sure connected objects and assistive apps are functioning properly. Secondly you must quickly determine the source of any problems. Finally, you need to speedily notify alert recipients of degraded performance.
Serious attention should be paid to monitoring the availability and response times of context-aware things within the IoT. The same broad principles apply to quality of context (QoC) as to application performance management (APM) or quality of experience (QoE) monitoring: data is collected from real users and/or simulated user journeys (scenarios), the data is stored, processed and analyzed, and alerts issued immediately if an incident arises.
The performance of assistive apps and devices for this “pretty sizable market segment” deserves to be monitored at least as closely as banking and business-critical applications and mainstream personal apps. In the case of PWD users, the quality of their experience of an app, service or device can have a very significant impact on their quality of life.