7 Technology Trends That Will Dominate 2017

Personally, I’m amazed at the technology we have available to us. It’s astounding to have the power to retrieve almost any information and communicate in a thousand different ways using a device that fits in your pocket.

There’s always something new on the horizon, and we can’t help but wait and wonder what technological marvels are coming next.

The way I see it, there are seven major tech trends we’re in store for in 2017. If you’re eyeing a sector in which to start a business, any of these is a pretty good bet. If you’re already an entrepreneur, think about how you can leverage these technologies to reach your target audience in new ways.

1. IoT and Smart Home Tech.

We’ve been hearing about the forthcoming revolution of the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and resulting interconnectedness of smart home technology for years. So what’s the holdup? Why aren’t we all living in smart, connected homes by now? Part of the problem is too much competition, with not enough collaboration—there are tons of individual appliances and apps on the market, but few solutions to tie everything together into a single, seamless user experience. Now that bigger companies already well-versed in uniform user experiences (like Google, Amazon, and Apple) are getting involved, I expect we’ll see some major advancements on this front in the coming year.

2. AR and VR.

We’ve already seen some major steps forward for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology in 2016. Oculus Rift was released, to positive reception, and thousands of VR apps and games followed. We also saw Pokémon Go, an AR game, explode with over 100 million downloads. The market is ready for AR and VR, and we’ve already got some early-stage devices and tech for these applications, but it’s going to be next year before we see things really take off. Once they do, you’ll need to be ready for AR and VR versions of practically everything—and ample marketing opportunities to follow.

3. Machine Learning.

Machine learning has taken some massive strides forward in the past few years, even emerging to assist and enhance Google’s core search engine algorithm. But again, we’ve only seen it in a limited range of applications. Throughout 2017, I expect to see machine learning updates emerge across the board, entering almost any type of consumer application you can think of, from offering better recommended products based on prior purchase history to gradually improving the user experience of an analytics app. It won’t be long before machine learning becomes a kind of “new normal,” with people expecting this type of artificial intelligence as a component of every form of technology.

4. Automation.

Marketers will be (mostly) pleased to learn that automation will become a bigger mainstay in and throughout 2017, with advanced technology enabling the automation of previously human-exclusive tasks. We’ve had robotic journalists in circulation for a couple of years now, and I expect it won’t be long before they make another leap into more practical types of articles. It’s likely that we’ll start seeing productivity skyrocket in a number of white-collar type jobs—and we’ll start seeing some jobs disappear altogether. When automation is combined with machine learning, everything can improve even faster, so 2017 has the potential to be a truly landmark year.

5. Humanized Big Data. (visual, empathetic, qualitative)

Big data has been a big topic for the past five years or so, when it started making headlines as a buzzword. The idea is that mass quantities of gathered data—which we now have access to—can help us in everything from planning better medical treatments to executing better marketing campaigns. But big data’s greatest strength—its quantitative, numerical foundation—is also a weakness. In 2017, I expect we’ll see advancements to humanize big data, seeking more empathetic and qualitative bits of data and projecting it in a more visualized, accessible way.

6. Physical-Digital Integrations.

Mobile devices have been slowly adding technology into our daily lives. It’s rare to see anyone without a smartphone at any given time, giving us access to practically infinite information in the real-world. We already have things like site-to-store purchasing, enabling online customers to buy and pick up products in a physical retail location, but the next level will be even further integrations between physical and digital realities. Online brands like Amazon will start having more physical products, like Dash Buttons, and physical brands like Walmart will start having more digital features, like store maps and product trials.

7. Everything On-Demand.

Thanks to brands like Uber (and the resulting madness of startups built on the premise of being the “Uber of ____”), people are getting used to having everything on demand via phone apps. In 2017, I expect this to see this develop even further. We have thousands of apps available to us to get rides, food deliveries, and even a place to stay for the night, but soon we’ll see this evolve into even stranger territory.

Anyone in the tech industry knows that making predictions about the course of technology’s future, even a year out, is an exercise in futility. Surprises can come from a number of different directions, and announced developments rarely release as they’re intended.

Still, it pays to forecast what’s coming next so you can prepare your marketing strategies (or your budget) accordingly. Whatever the case may be, it’s still fun to think about everything that’s coming next.

Smart Appliances, Home Automation and the Future of Your Kitchen

Soon, the kitchen will be the smartest room in a person’s home.

The Internet of Things is a loosely defined concept that revolves around using the Internet to animate and coordinate objects and systems that were previously considered inanimate. One technology publication (link is external) described the Internet of Things as a very near future filled with “tiny, intelligent things all around us, coordinating their activities. Coffeepots that talk to alarm clocks. Thermostats that talk to motion sensors. Factory machines that talk to the power grid and to boxes of raw material.”

Here are five home automation products from the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (link is external) that will forever change the modern kitchen.

1. Touchscreen Stovetop

The CES saw the introduction of a prototype cooktop that uses conduction to heat pots and pans. This method only heats the metal pot but leaves the stove top cool to the touch. Budding chefs can literally put their cookbook right on top of the surface they’re using to cook. The touchscreen cooking surface allows users to browse Twitter for recipes or pin what they’re cooking to Pinterest with a single swipe.

2. Wi-Fi Refrigerator 

If the cook’s hands are full, he or she can make and receive calls from a voice-activated Wi-Fi screen embedded in the fridge or look up a recipe on Google. The makers hope that the fridge will become the centerpiece of the kitchen, even enabling the transfer of TV programming from other rooms directly to its screen.

3. The Unified Kitchen App

This app can turn a smartphone or tablet into a maestro for the entire kitchen, connecting every appliance into one central “discussion”. By taking inventory of its ingredients, the fridge suggests a recipe and then tells the oven when to preheat to a specified temperature, depending on how long it will take to prep the food for cooking.

4. The New Kitchen Thermometer

This kitchen thermometer probe is jabbed directly into cooking food just like an old-fashioned thermometer. The difference, however, is that this version sends data back over wifi to a centralized computer, which then tells the oven to heat up or cool down. It has multiple probes for big items like turkeys or for monitoring more than one dish.

5. Home Chat

Home Chat is an app that requires its users to do something that could have gotten them institutionalized just a few years ago: talk to their appliances. When a homeowner sends a text message to their fridge, it will send one back.

— “Are there any eggs left?”

— “Yes. We still have 4 eggs.”

Or

— “Is any food about to expire?”

— “Yes. You should finish the roast beef in the next 24 hours.”

A person can text their coffee maker from work to find out what kind of espresso beans are already ground. If they like the answer it sends back, they can ask it to have a cup ready when they return home.

Five years after the smartphone revolution put devices in our pockets that connected us all, the Internet of things is connecting our objects — starting in the kitchen. The greatest new kitchen gadgets and appliances are the ones that will be able to coordinate with each other without any pesky human intervention.

Smart Technology for Diabetes Self-Care

Wearables, Implants, and Apps, Oh My!

If you have diabetes, you must consistently monitor your diet, lifestyle, and glucose levels, and keeping track of everything can be both inconvenient and difficult. Matters can become even more complicated if you have other health conditions with which to contend. Fortunately, technology can help.

Technological innovations

Strides have been made to ensure technology keeps pace with assisting people in self-managing their diabetes. By incorporating a personalized approach, technology has become a useful tool; in particular, mobile and Internet-ready smartphones have been found to be the most effective for integrating diabetes care into day-to-day living.

Technology now has evolved beyond telehealth. Smart technology exists as wearables, implants, and mobile applications to track glucose levels, share data, access relevant information, communicate with both health-care providers and others with diabetes, and, ultimately, guide you in making better decisions.

Wearable technology

Wearable technology comprises gadgets that can be worn and are equipped with sensors and wireless connectivity to assist with monitoring blood sugar levels, personalizing treatment, connecting with health-care providers, and even delivering medication into the body. It’s a huge departure from the traditional finger pricking method of glucose monitoring.

Some wearables on the horizon for diabetes include smart skin patches, contact lens, and footwear.

Skin Patches: These are small patches enclosing sensors that measure blood glucose in sweat and automatically release a dose of insulin to correct high blood glucose. The patch can be attached to your skin so that in the event of low blood glucose levels, it will send a message alert to your smartphone reminding you to eat. Some patch systems already exist but need a wire to transmit data. Several companies are taking patches a step further by sending information wirelessly.

Pharmaceutical company Abbott has created the FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System. A patch is placed at the back of the arm. It’s made with a small, round sensor with microfilaments that measure glucose levels in beneath-the-skin fluids per minute. An external device that reads through clothing scans the sensor. This product already is being distributed in certain parts of Europe and is awaiting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Other companies also are developing patches. Eccrine Systems, Inc., which develops advanced sweat sensors for medicine, plans to release a disposable patch that measures glucose levels in sweat and sends data wirelessly. This device is anticipated to hit the market this year. Google also is working with glucose-monitoring systems developer Dexcom to create a bandage-sized, disposable sensor that can transmit data to the Cloud in real time. It’s estimated to be available in the next five years.

Besides monitoring, patches also can be used for drug delivery. OmniPod, for example, is a small, waterproof patch that active adults and children can wear for three days straight. Before placing it anywhere on the body, insulin is injected into it. A handheld device then can control it to monitor and administer insulin if needed.

Contact Lenses: Smart contact lenses that could monitor blood glucose levels through human tears are being explored by Brian Otis and Babak Parviz for Google[x]. Pharmaceutical company Novartis has agreed to license and commercialize them once available. They also are looking to make lenses that could compensate for poor eyesight, which is a common complication among people with diabetes. There is yet to be confirmation of when this product could reach the market, but in 2015, Google was granted the patent for a contact lens with an embedded chip to monitor glucose levels in tears.

Socks and Shoes: Developments in technology aren’t appearing only in the area of self-monitoring. Technological developments also are prevalent in preventing common diabetes complications such as diabetic neuropathy, which can result in limb amputation. Currently, scientists are prototyping socks and shoes with embedded thermal and pressure sensors that can point out specific areas of the feet that have insufficient blood supply. Once this footwear product reaches the market, ideally, a supporting smartphone application would alert the wearer if one area of the foot is not getting blood supply. A nurse or doctor also can use the device to routinely inspect small cuts or soft tissue damage, in which an infection can easily develop. Such technology would greatly minimize the risk of amputations.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany are testing a sock equipped with 40 tiny sensors spread across the sole, heel, top of the foot, and ankle to get a three-dimensional reading. When a person stands on one foot too long and pressure starts to build, the sensors signal a wireless device that communicates with a smartphone, which then alerts the person to shift his or her weight to the other foot. Researchers still are working on how to make the sock washable.

The University of Arizona Department of Surgery’s Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance (SALSA) is researching and developing Smart Sox, a stocking made with fiber optics and sensors that monitor pressure, temperature, and joint angles to help avoid the development of foot ulcers. It could be five years before Smart Sox are available for home use.

Implanted technology

Traditionally, people with diabetes use injections or pumps to get insulin, both of which can be uncomfortable and inconvenient. However, companies now are developing implants such as a bio-artificial pancreas and skin implants that automate drug delivery.

A bio-artificial pancreas typically houses stem cells that produce insulin. Viacyte is producing VC-01, which houses the cells in a special capsule that is implanted into the patient’s body to function very much like a pancreas. The product currently is in clinical trials and already has been successfully implanted into four humans. The company is expecting to make more trial human implantations by the end of 2016 and to bring it to market in about five years.

Joan Taylor, professor at the De Montfort University in Leicester, U.K., has developed a wristwatch-sized artificial pancreas called InSmart, which is made of a gel barrier capable of matching the insulin amount it releases based on increases in blood sugar levels. The insulin in the barrier must be replenished every two weeks through an external port. Human testing is set for this year, to make it available in the next decade.

Insulin delivery can be less intrusive in the form of skin implants. Intarcia has developed ITCA 650, a matchstick-sized implant placed under the skin to continually deliver the Type 2 diabetes drug exenatide. This substance traditionally is injected twice daily or once weekly, but the ITCA 650 is implanted only once or twice a year. Currently, it is in phase III clinical trials and is scheduled for FDA filing later this year.

Smart Apps

While many wearables and implanted technology still are in the development or approval phases, many smartphone applications already are available. Apps can educate, assist with decision-making, communicate with health-care providers, and promote adherence to lifestyle and medication regimens.
Some glucose meters now are smaller, lighter, and capable of giving more accurate readings. Some are so small they can be plugged into the headphone jack of a smartphone. Apps that accompany glucose meters include sensors that count the number of steps taken in a day, the number of calories consumed in a meal and the resulting glucose levels, and whether a dose of medication is recommended. The OneTouch Verio® Meter, for example, can test a drop of blood and tell whether sugar levels are within range, as well as provide a summary of overall health performance.

Thousands of apps are being developed without the use of a blood strip to help people with diabetes make wise meal and activity choices and keep blood sugar levels within safe limits. The app Diabetik, for example, is designed for quick and interactive data entry to help those with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes monitor their diet, blood glucose levels, and medication. The user can set medication or activity reminders according to time or location.

Other apps focus on keeping food diaries and tracking calories. Fooducate has an extensive database of food information. Through barcode scanning, you can search a food item’s nutritional value and wait for the app to suggest healthier alternatives. The app also creates a community in which you can share your progress and healthy recipes.

Some apps are designed specifically for children, enabling parents to monitor their children’s blood sugar levels throughout the day. The app mySugr Junior has a playful interface that motivates and rewards children to learn about diabetes and religiously monitor their glucose and activity levels. All data are synced with the caregiver’s smartphone.

Other apps focus on connecting patients with their doctors. For example, Glooko is capable of aggregating your biometric data with information gathered through syncing with other glucose monitoring and fitness apps. It allows physicians to easily download patient data through the Glooko Kiosk software, which provides doctors with vital information required during consultations.

The future of smart self-management

It could be years before some wearables and implants currently in development become available for consumer use. Concerns also have been raised about their affordability and the fear that patients will be entirely reliant on technology to manage their condition. However, many free diabetes-related apps succeed in empowering patients to become actively involved with their physicians, treatment regimens and lifestyle changes.

Smart technology remains a promising area of innovation that can dramatically improve the lives of people with diabetes. By reducing the need for constant finger pricking or insulin injections, technology can make glucose monitoring, drug delivery, and health decision-making more efficient. This gives patients and caregivers more time to dedicate to other aspects of their lives, such as relationships and careers. Smart technology also promotes mindfulness in making daily life decisions, the discipline for self-management and self-care, and the formation of health habits. Not only can this help prevent or reduce the progression of diabetes and its complications, but it also can help reduce the costs of diabetes treatment and management.

5 steps to a smart home

When it comes to technology, smarter is better. There are smart watches, smart televisions and just about everyone has a smartphone.So what about a smart home? Smart thermostats and lighting timers represent the first steps toward smart home technology for many homeowners, but in a lot of cases, they were the only steps. Since then, technology has continued to develop, and today there are scores of home goods that can talk to one another while allowing you total control of your home from your smartphone, tablet or another device.

It all sounds so simple, so perfect, yet many consumers remain confused on how to make the most of smart home technology in their house. Instead of finding the installation welcoming, they see it as daunting and expensive. This doesn’t have to be the case. Installing — and enjoying — smart home technology in your house is easier than you think. Follow these five simple steps and your home will be a smart home in no time.

• Determine what you’d like to control remotely or automate based on time. Having total control of your home sounds great, but it also leads to total responsibility and sometimes you don’t need all that. For example, lighting solutions are a popular automated option.

• Select technology that works with your home. When you’re shopping for products — like lighting switches — you should always be mindful of functionality. For example, does your home operate on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth? Understand the base functionalities of your home and you’ll streamline your shopping process.

• Seek professional help. If you’re concerned about your ability to set up your smart home technology successfully, don’t be afraid to seek out some guidance. Call on your contractor to assist you in the installation. You can also download helpful guides and how-to instructions from the manufacturer’s website. The more information you have before beginning the project, the more comfortable you’ll be with the installation.

• Download the proper apps. The key to your home’s smart technology lies in the corresponding apps. Make sure you’ve downloaded the right one to match your system. Many smart home technologies offer both iPhone and Android apps to provide the functionality control you need.

• Set your schedule and optimise as needed. Your smart home is an ever-evolving machine, and the more time you take to continually customise your preferences, the more you’ll get from your system. Establish your initial schedule and then add voice control through Amazon, Google or Apple. Finally, don’t be afraid to make continued improvements. You’ve already tackled the biggest hurdle of installing your system, and the ongoing small adjustments you add will make your system great.

Ways to Protect Your Smart Home

Smart technology lets you change the temperature in your house without leaving your bed if you wake up feeling chilly or too hot. You could check the contents of your refrigerator while you’re at the grocery store or start your favorite song by simply requesting it out loud. What a time to be alive!

With all the fantastic perks that come from smart technology in the home, there is also an increased need for security. The more devices that you use increases the potential risks that you are vulnerable to.

Most people know to protect their laptops, tablets and smartphones, but what about all of the other smart technology in your home?

Here are some tips to help protect your entire home network and all of the smart technology within it:

Don’t Underestimate Hackers

You may be thinking “Why would anyone want to hack into my thermostat? And even if they did, who cares?”

Part of the reason why smart technology can be vulnerable is that users don’t worry as much about protecting them. After all, would someone go through the trouble of hacking into a smart thermostat simply to change the temperature in your home?

Unfortunately, it’s more dangerous than that. Hackers can take something as simple as an unprotected smart thermostat and use it as part of a larger cyber-attack.

To put it simply, hackers can use unprotected internet-connected devices like smart refrigerators, smart thermometers and DVRs and control these items without the owner’s knowledge. Hackers can turn the devices into a network called a botnet and use them in negative ways.

These sorts of botnets have been used in the past to attack the infrastructure that keeps major websites running, which can cause outages for major websites like Amazon, Netflix, Spotify and more.

Even if a smart device seems harmless, a hacker can likely find a way to use it. That’s why every device in your home needs protection.

Even with a strong password, you should also use malware protection to keep your devices safe. Antivirus protection and firewalls can help you find malware and keep it from infecting your devices.

Create Secure Passwords and Use Malware Protection

With or without many smart devices in your home, a secure Wi-Fi password is always a must. Here are some password tips:

  • Use a combination of capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers, special characters and even spaces
  • Make sure to use a unique password for each item, don’t reuse the same password
  • Don’t choose simple passwords that are easy to guess, like 123456
  • Don’t use personal information as a password, like your child’s birthday

Even with a strong password, you should also use malware protection to keep your devices safe. Antivirus protection and firewalls can help you find malware and keep it from infecting your devices.

Use Multifactor Authentication When Possible

Multifactor authentication is an additional level of security that can help protect your smart devices. This could be a one-time password that gets emailed or texted directly to you so you can confirm the log in process. A thumbprint scan is another option for multifactor authentication.

All of these options may not be available with each device, but if there is a multifactor authentication option, take advantage of it. This extra level of protection could help keep your devices more secure.

Keep Your Security Updated

Cyber criminals create new schemes and attack methods all the time, which means that protecting your home network is a long-term need. Even if you use all of the methods above, you still want to make sure that you keep all of your security items up to date to get the maximum protection.

Security updates are created to keep up with the latest threats, so make sure that any time an update is available, you take advantage of it right away. Even putting it off for a few days can make your smart home more vulnerable. The small amount of time it takes to do an update is time well spent if it helps keep your home safe!

Smart Technologies for Your Home

No need to be nervous about home automation. You can incorporate smart house technology a little bit at a time.

If you’re not, shall we say, tech smart, the idea of using home automation might seem out of this world. But the good news is, there’s a variety of gadgets and gizmos on the market to help even the least tech-savvy person live in a smart home.

First steps to a smart house

Rest easy — you don’t have to go “all in” when starting a home automation project.

“Pick an initial feature of your home you would use the most in terms of automation, and expand from there,” says Lee Travis, owner of Wipliance in Bellevue, Washington.

But also keep in mind that you might want to add more smart technology to your home as time goes on. Investing in products that are compatible with a central automation system will help simplify the process down the road.

“A consumer can buy a thermostat or light switches and make them smartphone accessible,” says Kellan C. Warren, vice-president of Kelltech Systems in Dallas. “But keep in mind what your end goal is and purchase products that get you on that path. Once you start integrating, everything can work together. You can open the garage door, turn on the lights and set the thermostat with one touch. You make the rules.”

One of the most popular automation integration systems experts recommend is Control4, which starts around $1,000.

“The great thing about products like Control4 Home Automation is that you can install the system to control one feature initially; whether it’s your lights, your entertainment system, your security, or more,” Travis says. “Then as your needs change, you can expand on the existing system with those additional features.”

Let there be light

Having your lights automatically come on when you walk in a room or being able to turn lights on throughout the house when you’re not home is more than just convenient — it’s a safety issue. You won’t have to worry about stumbling over footstools in the dark or potential vandals casing a home that appears empty.

A smart thermostat will save energy

Living an energy-efficient lifestyle not only helps save the planet, but it also pads your wallet. It’s a win-win! A smart thermostat can help you cut down on energy bills by learning your habits and knows when to make the house warmer or cooler just for you.

Automatic curtain control

Some days you might want to flood your house with sunlight. Other days, you might want to hibernate in the darkness. With automated window treatments, the decision is literally at your fingertips.

Automating your blinds, curtains or shutters can also help keep your home’s interior at a comfortable temperature (blocking that late afternoon sun!) and give you privacy in an instant from the outside world. Shades can be set to open at sunrise and close automatically at sunset, or whatever time you prefer.

Under lock and key

Still hiding that spare key under the doormat? With the advances in electronic locks and wireless control, you don’t ever have to worry about losing your house key again. Electronic locks allow you to lock or unlock the door from your cell phone or you can set a temporary code and timeframe if you’re expecting a visitor. The lock will also send you a text message when your kid gets home from school — just like magic!

Garage door assurance

How many times have you backed out of your driveway, driven halfway down the street and looked over your shoulder to make sure you actually closed your garage door? There’s no need to risk a neck sprain (or running off the road) anymore once you’ve installed a remote access package to your garage door opener. From your smartphone, you can open or close the door and also receive activity notifications of any door movement.

An Overview of Modern Technology

Present-day technology has changed development in a lot of ways. People have often been on a way of movement, yet on account of technology. Some of the technology progresses has turned into a necessity of life because of their significance and our dependence on them.

Correspondence

One of the regions where present-day technology is most essential is in the domain of correspondence. Long back, speaking with people outside your prompt area was a troublesome procedure, requiring correspondence by physical letter and a much measure of tolerance. The Internet has made long separations practically straightforward, permitting clients to relate with people on the opposite side of the planet in a moment. Technology has additionally expanded our availability, with mobile phones and different gadgets.

Training

Another territory where PCs and the Internet have turned out to be critical is in training. PCs can store a lot of information in a little space; diminishing whole give up work of refer to books down to a solitary CD of information. The Internet likewise serves as an enormous asset for learning, connecting educational locales together and permitting the inquisitive to scan for any subject possible. A solitary PC could store many instructive diversions, sound, and visual lessons and also give access to an abundance of learning for understudy. In the classroom, virtual whiteboards can supplant boards, permitting instructors to give intuitive substance to understudy and play instructive movies without the need to set up a projector.

Wellbeing

Technology has likewise affected the human services industry. Advances in symptomatic instruments permit specialists to distinguish sicknesses and conditions early, expanding the odds of an effective treatment and sparing lives. Progressions in medications and antibodies have likewise demonstrated greatly powerful, about killing infections like measles, diphtheria, and smallpox that once brought about huge plagues. Cutting edge pharmaceutical likewise permits patients to oversee constant conditions that were once incapacitating and life-undermining, such as, diabetes and hypertension. Innovative advances in solution have likewise developed life expectancies and enhance personal satisfaction for people around the world.

Profitability

Technology has likewise expanded efficiency. The capacity of PCs to settle complex numerical conditions permits them to accelerate any undertaking requiring estimation or different figuring. PC displaying of physical impacts can spare time and cash in any assembling circumstance, giving specialists the capacity to renovate structures, vehicles or materials to give essential information on execution before prototyping. Indeed, even in the workplace environment, the capacity of arranged PCs to share and control information can speed a wide assortment of errands, permitting representatives to unite proficiently for most extreme efficiency.

Thus, the role of technology is essential for all of us.

Getting Smart With Technology

When leaders of Humber River Hospital set out to build a replacement hospital in Toronto, they didn’t just want to incorporate the latest technologies, such as a real-time location system (RTLS), integrated bedside terminals, or automated guided vehicles (AGVs), into the 1.8 million-square-foot facility.

They wanted those technologies—including automated building and clinical systems—to be able to work together and achieve a more sophisticated level of interoperability. “The technology existed,” says Jerry Jeter, vice president and principal at HDR (Denver); but it was more about “getting those things to talk to each other and do it in a way that the hospital wanted.”

The pathway to success entailed assessing every system that was going to be implemented in the 656-bed hospital and developing compatible software to connect everything, including an “enterprise service bus,” which Jeter describes as a big channel conduit that allows information to flow to and from any location within the building. This means that when a provider sends a sample for testing, it’s processed in a fully automated lab and then the provider receives a message on a smart phone about the test and what’s been done.

“Then all of that information is filtered into the electronic health record (EHR) at the same time, allowing the staff to more effectively and efficiently treat their patients,” he says.

Driven by the desire to improve the patient experience, create Lean operations, support population health, and meet mandates for EHRs, more healthcare systems are seeking robust technology solutions, which is driving new design discussions. Sandy Faurot, vice president at CallisonRTKL and director of the firm’s Chicago office, says that providers today are more technologically savvy and better educated on what specific systems they’d like to put to work inside their facilities.

“It used to be that clients didn’t really know what technology was going to do for them, but they knew it was going to change. So they wanted flexibility to handle whatever type of technology could come at them,” he says. “Now they’re a little more targeted; they know they want radio-frequency identification (RFID) for locating staff and equipment, they know they want a patient technology interface for wayfinding, and they know electronic medical records are going to interface with everything else.”

The opportunity for healthcare designers and architects is figuring out which pieces of the technology puzzle are appropriate for an organization’s goals while planning for future adaptations and changes. “The conversations are about how to streamline workflows, develop efficiencies in our process, measure data, and adapt our processes to increase efficiencies,” says Scott Chester, associate vice president within CallisonRTKL’s technology design studio (Baltimore, Md.). “With those things in mind, a lot of the focus is on strategies that leverage technology and the systems that are available to help foster that.”

All systems go

Humber River opened its doors in October 2015 with an array of digital features, including inpatient rooms with integrated bedside terminals that give patients control over room settings (temperature, lighting levels, and the intelligent glazing system which can adjust how much light enters the room without the use of shades); smart beds that monitor patients’ vital signs and update EHRs; an automated laboratory; and 10 AGVs that deliver supplies and equipment throughout the building.

Additionally, a chute system directly routes all waste, recycling, and dirty linens to specific truck beds, eliminating handling by staff, while a pneumatic tube system links the laboratory and pharmacy to the nurses’ stations on the inpatient floors and 50 other locations throughout the building to expedite delivery of samples and medications.

“Between the AGVs, the trash and linen chutes, and the pneumatic tube system, we were able to automate 74 percent of the deliveries in the hospital,” Jeter says—saving the hospital the need for 19 full-time employees per day.

Operational savings aren’t the only benefit healthcare facilities are reaping with technology—greater efficiencies and improved clinical outcomes are also being served. When St. Joseph Mercy Oakland embarked on the design of a new 204-bed patient tower on its campus in Pontiac, Mich., administrators asked caregivers to identify some of the pain points in the care process and then sought technologies to help address those problems.

One of the issues brought to the table was overall communications, says Robert Jones, senior director of information services at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland. In the existing system, a patient would press a call button and someone would have to route that call to the appropriate staff member. The staff member would then go into the patient room to figure out what was needed, and then leave and come back if the needed item wasn’t already available in the room.

“We wanted to deliver that nurse call alert directly to the nurse, wherever they might be,” he says.

When the tower opened in March 2014, a new communication network was in place that uses iPhone-based communication devices to connect nurses with patients, staff, and physicians as well as deliver alarms and monitoring cues. Nurses can also use the handheld devices to send text messages to one another and to receive alerts about delivery times for medications and meals.

Jones says that the average nurse call response time decreased by 57 percent between fourth quarter 2014 and first quarter 2016, which correlated with a 12 percent improvement in the HCAHPS survey on the response to questions on hospital staff. “The number of unnecessary caregiver trips was reduced as a result of more effective communication among caregivers and between patients and their caregivers,” he says.

Optimizing the benefits

Location-based services, such as RTLS and RFID, are other technologies that have been gaining popularity in recent years to identify and track the location or movement of patients, staff, or assets, such as wheelchairs and stretchers, throughout a facility. At Humber River Hospital, RTLS enhances security for vulnerable patients, such as newborn babies and those with mental health conditions, who wear tracking tags that are linked to a nurse call system. A security response is initiated if the RTLS system is activated by certain activities, such as a patient making an unsanctioned leave from a department.

Humber River uses RFID as a separate but interconnected system to RTLS to improve communications between staff and family members. The technology tracks patients through a department or procedure and sends updates via text to a family member’s smartphone to inform them when a patient moves from pre-op to surgery and then into a recovery room.

Additionally, each care provider wears an RFID device and when they enter an inpatient room, their name and reason for the visit come up on an integrated bedside terminal and a monitor on the footwall, making the information visible to patients as well as family members in the room. “It’s a way to connect people using technology so they know what’s going on and they can ask the right kind of questions,” says Norman Fisher, project manager at HDR’s Toronto office.

Real-time data can also be used to take a more analytical approach to drive process improvements by measuring and evaluating certain activities, such as patient flow through specific departments (surgery, the ED, or a clinic), and making adjustments.

“There’s a huge advantage in those departments to be able to identify a patient’s flow, where they are in the process, and then to adj
ust your approach to their visit based on the information that’s available,” CallisonRTKL’s Chester says. As time goes on and more data are collected, he says design teams can also mine that information to make decisions about facility size, layout, and number of exam rooms needed in a specific department.

Smart planning

As healthcare organizations expand their technology initiatives, Jeff Brand, principal and national healthcare leader at Perkins Eastman (New York), says providers are allocating space on their campuses for data rooms, equipment, server racks, and more. “They want to have things fairly close to them so they can monitor it,” he says.

Tom Stanfield, technology integration coordinator for Parkland Health and Hospital System (Dallas), says the massive New Parkland Hospital, which opened in August 2015, required a robust network that could be “future-proof for 10-15 years down the road.” To support that goal, Stanfield and his team built an infrastructure that includes a redundant fiber ring around the entire campus to carry high-bandwidth data to support a range of technologies, from telemetry coverage across the campus to smartboard technologies in the footwall of the inpatient rooms to a video integration system in the operating rooms that allows surgeons to consult with other clinicians in real time.

During construction, Stanfield says, ductwork and manholes were placed in locations where they could easily accommodate expansion as additional buildings and technologies are brought onto the network. Inside the hospital, Stanfield says there are more than 70 technology closets, which hold 9-foot-tall equipment racks to maximize the vertical and horizontal spaces within each room.

“We built out the racks to 100 percent, but some of the racks are still empty,” he says. “It was easier to go in and install the racks [now] and then fill them with technology as the need accrues.”

Jones says he’s always looking for technology that he can continue to build on for St. Joseph Mercy Oakland but that one of the biggest hurdles within healthcare is funding. “You have to identify the return on investment or how you can leverage existing infrastructure to get you what you need,” he says.

CallisonRTKL’s Chester says involving the IT team early on in the planning can help figure out what’s available and cost-effective, both now and for the future. “We can look at it and do things in the planning process to provide the connectivity or infrastructure so if the budget doesn’t support it on day one, they can roll a system out when they have the funds to support it,” he says

The digital revolution: eight technologies that will change health and care

The past decade has seen rapid development and adoption of technologies that change the way we live. But which technologies will have a similarly transformative impact on health and care?

The King’s Fund has looked at some examples of innovative technology-enabled care that are already being deployed in the NHS and internationally to transform care. Now, we examine the technologies most likely to change health and care over the next few years.

Some of the technologies we discuss are on the horizon – others are already in our pockets, our local surgeries and hospitals. But none are systematically deployed in our health and care system. Each could represent an opportunity to achieve better outcomes or more efficient care.

1. The smartphone

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Smartphone

It’s been eight years since the launch of these pocket-sized devices we now know so well. We take them for granted but our phones combine: computing power that could steer a spacecraft, a connection to the internet, a host of sensors for health-relevant data like movement and location tracking, plus a touch-screen interface.

Two-thirds of Britons use them to access the internet (Ofcom Technology Tracker 2015), and few would regard these devices as ‘new’, yet the smartphone’s potential is yet to be realised in health and care.

Apps

App stores already feature thousands of health apps, though their uptake for health and care has been patchy. Efforts to curate the best quality apps, for example in the NHS App Library, have had little success so far (Huckvale et al 2015).

One of the more sophisticated apps in use in health care is Ginger.io. In this depression programme, people track their own mood and this is combined with data collected from the sensors in the smartphone about their movements, social app or telephone use. The data can be shared with clinicians and offers people an intervention when their data suggests they might benefit from support.

Hubs

Smartphones can serve as the hub for sophisticated new diagnostic and treatment technologies. So, for example, people with type 1 diabetes dissatisfied with the progress of medical technology companies are driving the development of an artificial pancreas. This links continuous glucose monitoring and insulin-delivery systems that are all controlled by the smartphone. It will adapt its algorithms for insulin delivery to a person’s physiology.

Large-scale research

Smartphones are highly effective data collection devices and they can record a lot of detail about people’s lives. As well as tracking their own health status, people can also help researchers gather large amounts of data on health problems and their determinants using their smartphones.

The first long-term and large-scale opt-in disease studies are just beginning. Apple seeks to support large-scale studies using patients’ iPhones by providing its ‘ResearchKit’ software platform for researchers to tackle any research question. uMotif is seeking eventually to build a 100,000-person study into Parkinson’s disease, tracking variables using a smartphone app.

2. At-home or portable diagnostics

Portable x-ray machine

Devices cheap enough or portable enough to be transported to people’s homes to provide diagnostic information aren’t new – think of a GP doing home visits armed with a stethoscope. But recent innovations mean that devices previously only kept in a hospital or a GP surgery are now portable or cheap enough to be located in people’s homes, and used by patients themselves.

Hospital-level diagnostics in the home

These include portable x-ray machines, blood-testing kits and other technology that can provide more and more of the diagnostics required to support health care, with profound consequences for the way we configure our health care system.

At a recent conference at The King’s Fund on emerging primary and acute care systems, Dr Michael Montalto described how these technologies and others enable the safe, high-quality acute care service that his team has provided for people in Victoria, Australia, in their own homes for 20 years. One recent innovation in this area is the AliveCOR ECG embedded in a smartphone case that helps interpret test results via an app and facilitates secure sharing with clinicians (NICE evidence review).

Smart assistive technology

Many people with disabilities or long-term conditions use assistive devices to help them perform tasks or activities made harder for them by their disability or their condition. These are often available as part of NHS and social care packages. The prospect of using these to gather information in addition to achieving a specific task is motivating several new developments.

Verily (formerly Google’s life sciences arm) has invested in a tremor spoon already on the market for use by people with Parkinson’s disease, for example. By incorporating sensors and deploying its data analytic expertise, the aim is to provide people or health professionals with information about how someone’s tremor characteristics and severity change over time – and to understand more about the disease across a population. Smart inhalers like those in development by Propeller Health work on a similar idea, passively detecting each use, location and the surrounding air quality, allowing insights into what triggers asthma attacks.

3. Smart or implantable drug delivery mechanisms

Drug delivery

We know that between a third and a half of all medication prescribed to people with long-term conditions is not taken as recommended (Nunes et al 2009). Several technologies in development could enable patients and care professionals to monitor and improve adherence to a prescribed drug regime either through automation or providing better information about medication usage.

Smart pills

One company has developed sensor technology so small it can be swallowed and combined with drugs in pill form. When the pill dissolves in the stomach, the sensor is activated and transmits data to a wearable patch on the outside of the body and on to a smartphone app. This enables patients and their clinicians to see how well they are adhering to their prescription.

Proteus Digital Health began the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory process for this technology in 2015. The treatment now undergoing review combines the technology with an anti-psychotic drug, raising questions about how health systems could use the technology and how privacy and autonomy for patients will be affected. The company are also investigating other potential applications including assisting those with long-term conditions such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease to remember to take their medications.

Implantable drug delivery

New automated drug delivery technology is under development by a firm set up by researchers and engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They are developing an implantable device with hundreds of tiny, sealable reservoirs that open when a small electric current controlled by an embedded microchip is applied (Farra et al 2012). The team developing the device say it could provide a way to automatically release doses for more than 10 years from a single chip. They are developing the technology for long-term condition medication as well as for contraception.

4. Digital therapeutics

Digital therapeutics

Digital therapeutics are health or social care interventions delivered either wholly or significantly through a smartphone or a laptop. They effectively embed clinical practice and therapy into a digital form. At a minimum, these interventions combine provision of clinically curated information on a health condition with advice and techniques for dealing with that condition.Many digital therapy platforms include a way for people to connect with peers and share their experience, or to connect with health professionals remotely. Whether they are fully automated or blend automation with supervision, the therapy offered can be tailored to the needs of the specific user. Digital therapeutics are often cited as a solution to help manage long-term conditions that call for behaviour changes or to prevent diseases in the long run.

Computerised cognitive behavioural therapy

The use of computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in the NHS has a relatively long history. Two recent independent studies looking at early-generation computerised CBT suggested that the main limitations in effectiveness were due to people failing to complete the course. Adolescents were more likely to finish the programmes and so benefited more from them. (Gilbody et al 2015, Smith et al 2015).

Recently, a new generation of automated digital therapies based on CBT has been developed that aims to deliver CBT at scale with better engagement. Sleepio is one example, a six-week tailored programme delivered via the web, designed to treat insomnia, and in doing so help alleviate anxiety and depression. There have been positive early results in randomised controlled trials (Espie et al 2012, Pillai et al 2015). The therapy is personalised in response to data provided by the patient and by using the latest practice in design and delivering the therapy via an animated avatar, the course is made more engaging. Design and personalisation are key elements likely to improve engagement, and therefore outcomes, in digital therapies of all types.

New preventive digital therapies

Another class of digital therapies are in development to help people make changes to reduce the risk of developing long-term conditions. Interventions to change lifestyles through regular coaching and group sessions can reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Sean Duffy, CEO of Omada Health, which delivers online therapies for a range of conditions, gave a presentation at The King’s Fund Annual Conference, showing how the company has achieved positive results in its early evaluations in the United States.

5. Genome sequencing

Genome sequencing

Advances in genome sequencing and the associated field of genomics will give us better understanding of how diseases affect different individuals. With the genetic profile of a person’s disease and knowledge of their response to treatment, it should be possible to find out more about the likely effectiveness of medical interventions such as prescribing drugs to treat a disease (pharmacogenomics).

Falling sequencing costs

Twenty years have passed since the first complete genome sequence of a living organism was produced and twelve since the first human genome was sequenced. In that time, the economics of genome sequencing has changed significantly. The US National Human Genome Research Institute estimates that the marginal cost of sequencing a single person’s genome has now come down to $1,000. However, the upfront costs are still high and likely to remain so for a long time.

The cost of sequencing could fall further thanks to new sequencing techniques using nanopores developed over the past few years. Nanopores are very small holes that DNA molecules can pass through. When an electric current is induced through the pore, variation in the current as DNA molecules are passed through can be used to infer their make-up. Oxford Nanopore Technologies uses this approach to offer very small genome sequencing devices, far more portable than the larger, fridge-sized machines used in traditional laboratory-based sequencing.

Population-level studies

Major projects are under way internationally to gather large databases of genomes and analyse them to find relationships between genetic make-up, people’s disease risk and experience, their physical characteristics and their behaviour.

In the United Kingdom, the government is sponsoring the 100,000 Genomes project in England. Human Longevity Inc in the United States promises to build a database featuring 1 million genomes by 2020 and currently has 20,000 sequenced genomes linked to other data about the person’s physical characteristics. Verily aims, with its Baseline study (a research collaboration between the company and Stanford and Duke medical schools), to analyse large amounts of volunteers’ linked genome, lifestyle and physical data to develop a better understanding of how all that data looks when a person is healthy and identify the changes that indicate disease at an earlier stage.

6. Machine learning

Machine learning

Until recently, computers weren’t especially good at recognising patterns in messy data. Or rather, the way we programmed them meant they weren’t very good. New techniques have now been developed in the applied mathematics and computer science fields that have allowed more effective use of computers for tasks like this. Machine learning is one such field. It is a type of artificial intelligence that enables computers to learn without being explicitly programmed, meaning they can teach themselves to change when exposed to new data.

New insights into big datasets

Several new businesses hope to use these techniques to provide diagnostic support. Enlitic in the United States has created a tool for radiologists that uses previous findings and other data associated with existing images in its databases to spot patterns in images and the data to help spot likely mistakes and rule out extremely unlikely options. Both IBM’s Watson and Google’s DeepMind – the two most famous artificial intelligence organisations – have started to explore potential applications in health care. For example, IBM Watson is studying whether applying machine learning to large amounts of unstructured data like clinical guidelines, scientific literature and treatment protocols could help optimise cancer treatment.

Here at The King’s Fund, we are working with colleagues at Demos’ Centre for Analysis of Social Media to see what is practical and ethical in terms of applying machine learning techniques to user-generated content on the internet. We are hoping to understand the insights that health systems can glean about patient need and how services meet that need.

7. Blockchain

Blockchain

Blockchains were conceived in 2008 and the most well-known application is the digital currency Bitcoin. The technology has potential uses in a wide range of other fields, particularly financial services and government functions, where it is already being deployed.Blockchains are decentralised databases, secured using encryption, that keep an authoritative record of how data is created and changed over time. Their key feature is they can be trusted as authoritative records even when there is not a single, central, respected authority updating them and guaranteeing their accuracy and security. This derives from the mathematical properties of the way the data is recorded and the difficulty it would take to break the rules and successfully alter the record.

Decentralised health records

Electronic records for health care are now widely used, but they are stored on centralised databases, secured and provided by a small number of suppliers. Some commentators have described how a decentralised database using blockchain technology to contain all or some of patients’ health information would work, with the patient or clinician given the keys to control who else sees the data.

They argue that the system would be more resilient as no single organisation houses the data and that switching to or incorporating blockchains into existing systems could help to speed up the transition to interoperable patient records. The technology could be applied to create accurate records of health interventions and eventually verified outcomes, which could be used as the basis for reimbursing providers for the health outcomes they achieve for their local population.

8. The connected community

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Connected commmunity

Behind all technologies, there are people. The internet and the devices and technology it has enabled have facilitated the development of many communities, bringing together people around a common interest, a shared identity, a social movement, or even just hashtags.

Peer-to-peer support networks

Connected communities for health are growing in their membership and their diversity. Several platforms bring together people with interests in health and care within countries and across the world to support each other, share learning and even provide a platform for tracking their health data or helping them manage their condition.

MedHelp, PatientsLikeMe and HealthUnlocked are just three of these social networks for health. Alongside these dedicated networks, platforms such as Twitter and Facebook that dominate the social network market in the United Kingdom have also become key places for disseminating and discussing health and care information and best practice – as Daniel Ghinn of Creative Health told our Digital Health and Care Congress in 2015.

Communities contributing to research

Some online communities are already contributing to research about their health conditions, offering people the chance to be ‘data donors’ and providing a simple way to share their data with researchers. PatientsLikeMe has already been used to contribute to nearly 70 published studies, including a study credited with new discoveries about the disease progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Healthbank offers a different model, and is described as ‘the world’s first citizen-owned health data transaction platform’. Members pay a one-off fee to store health data securely and control who it is shared with. The organisation is a co-operative, so profits made using the patient data are paid out in dividends to its members.

 

5 smart tech trends transforming the job site

RFID labor tracking, 360 cameras, and advanced video tools are among the tech innovations that show promise for the commercial construction industry.

Drones, GoPro, RFID, Oculus Rift, augmented reality, 360 cameras, 3D laser scanners, GIS systems. There’s no shortage of tech gadgets that are ripe for adoption on commercial construction projects. Making these tech tools even more enticing for construction firms are the low barrier to entry—for example, professional-grade drones go for as low as $650—and improved integration with existing workflows and systems.

“It’s been overwhelming at times just trying to get a handle on all the new innovations,” says James Barrett, VP and Chief Innovation Officer with Turner Construction. “It’s easy to get caught up in the coolness of these tools, but I feel like some of them are just a solution looking for a problem.” Turner takes an incremental approach to technology adoption, selecting the tools that offer the most favorable cost-to-benefit ratio.

In late 2013, Suffolk Construction formed a 12-person R&D team to help keep up with emerging technologies. The group, led by Senior Project Manager Jason Seaburg, has a formal process for testing new gadgets, including twice-monthly conference calls and timelines for testing.

“We work in an industry that, quite honestly, is a decade behind the times when it comes to technology,” says Seaburg. “We need to foster a culture and mindset where it’s OK to beta test all these new technologies hitting the market, and where it’s OK to fail. If a particular tool doesn’t work, that’s fine, we’ll move on to the next thing.”

To find out which technologies are working for contractors, and which emerging applications show promise, BD+C reached out to several giant contractor firms. Here’s what they had to offer:

1. 360 cameras simplify visual documentation.

Manhattan Construction has seen huge benefits from the use 360 cameras. Manhattan’s Mark Penny, an SVP in the firm’s Dallas office, says the technology has greatly reduced the need for client/team site visits on the multi-year DFW International Airport modernization and improvement project. It also has assisted the team with making sense of the existing conditions (very few as-built drawings exist) and documenting the construction progress.

Every two weeks, during routine field walks of the job site, the project’s superintendent uses a Nikon D7100, fitted with a fisheye lens for panoramic shots, to take four images from dozens of predetermined locations across the site. The images from each location are then stitched together using  software and linked to a custom digital floor plan of the project, allowing anyone on the team to take a virtual, high-definition tour of the facility.

“Say there’s a conflict with ductwork,” says Penny. “We can pull up the latest photo of that area, pan and zoom to that exact spot, and collaborate with the designers and client—virtually—to resolve it.”

2. Teams are taking control of video.

Tech gadgets like drones, GoPros, and tablets make video capture a breeze in the field. The issue for contractors is what to do with the information—how best to archive video for future use, or tie it in with the construction information workflow.

Both Suffolk and Turner are working with software developers to create custom tools to help take control of their video data. Suffolk is planning a YouTube-like website that will allow its staff to upload and quickly retrieve project videos. The most novel feature: an advanced search function that will take viewers to a specific point of a video based on keyword input. “It could be a three-hour project video, but you need to see the foundation installation at the 12-minute mark,” says Seaburg. “This tool will take you to that exact spot.”

Turner is working with software engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign to develop an automated safety check program that will analyze video feeds to identify workers who are not wearing safety gear, such as hardhats, vests, and glasses. “Our push has been to leverage easily accessible technologies, like video and photos, combined with advanced analysis, to solve problems,” says Barrett.

3. Rise of the smart factory network.

No tech innovation is making a bigger impact on construction projects than prefabrication, says Barrett. Building Teams are experiencing sizable gains in schedule and workforce efficiencies, and are looking for new ways to move the “big thinking” off the job site and into a factory-like setting. Precast exterior walls, unitized curtain wall, multi-trade racks, bathrooms pods, prefab head walls, and equipment skids are now commonplace on major projects. Emerging applications include precast foundations and interior partitions.

“The smartest job site is not one site, but a network of job sites where trade contractors are prefabricating components in a clean, controlled environment, and then delivering them only as needed,” says Barrett.

Trade contractors are becoming increasingly sophisticated, says Barrett. He points to Quakertown, Pa.-based Klover Contracting, which recently launched a BIM-to-cold-roll-forming-machine workflow for the manufacture of light-gauge metal frame components for a variety of applications—interior partitions, roof and floor trusses, load-bearing wall panels, to name a few. Based on the rough BIM model for a given project, Klover’s team can create a detailed framing design that incorporates door/window openings, structural requirements, duct openings, and panel breaks. This file is then sent to the firm’s cold-roll forming machines, which “print” each component to precise specifications.

 

4. BIM in the field is starting to pay off.

To speed the site inspection process at the 620,000-sf, 11-story Brigham Building for the Future project at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Suffolk Construction implemented a QR-code-based BIM-in-the-field workflow. Team members can quickly call up documents for a given space and provide real-time feedback by scanning a QR code label affixed to the nearest doorframe. Courtesy Suffolk Construction

 

Suffolk is rolling out Autodesk’s BIM 360 Glue (cloud-based BIM/VDC coordination) and 360 Field (mobile project management) across the organization. One of the most useful applications, says Seaburg, is quality control inspection using the BIM 360 Field app on iPads, combined with QR codes on the job site.

On the firm’s $280 million, 620,000-sf Brigham Building for the Future project, currently under construction in Boston, the team placed QR codes on the door frames of every space in the complex. During work-list inspections (and eventually punch-list inspections), team members can open the 360 Field app and scan the QR code of a given room for a detailed, real-time list of work to be completed and questions to be addressed.

“From there, we can change the status, add comments, put it in dispute, mark it as complete, and even add a picture,” says Tom Reid, Suffolk’s Assistant Project Manager. “It allows us to work through lists almost in real time.”

5. RFID is on the cusp of going mainstream.

Turner has been studying RFID tracking for several years, and has implemented RFID solutions intermittently—with reasonable success, says Barrett.

“We’re chasing the low-hanging fruit, like tracking workers as they enter and leave the site, and to see if they’re up to date on their certifications,” he says. With newer solutions, like Trimble’s CrewSight system, Barrett believes RFID is ready for prime time.

“Costs have come down, and it’s becoming easier to deploy,” he says. “We’re looking to make it standard on projects.”