As the industry expands its Internet of Things offering, smart sensors are expected to play a critical role. CableLabs has been working with healthcare providers and organizations on the use of sensors in areas like in-home health, health monitoring, and in-hospital systems, CableLabs CEO Phil McKinney said in an interview. The initiative covers “everything from sensors embedded in hospital beds that can detect whether or not patients are moving or lying too still to sensors being placed in the home that can monitor whether grandma has got up or still in bed,” he said, noting that many new sensors aimed at creating new IoT devices for specific purposes are coming. CableLabs is looking at network, security and quality of service requirements to support those devices.

“We are doing a lot of work on the security side… We are also looking at how to ensure the network can support new loads of activities…” he said. The organization is also looking to foster collaboration and create consistency between IoT device manufacturers and sensor makers. The goal is to enable the devices with different interfaces to work together. As for IoT standards, “we are still pretty early in the game to pick a standard to go with,” McKinney said. He noted players in the IoT space have slowly recognized the importance of enabling interoperability. Pretty much all the major cable MSOs are actively participating in experiments around smart sensors.

For example, Cox is partnering with the Cleveland Clinic to develop in-home healthcare services such as video consultation and telehealth offerings to monitor and manage recovery from surgery. “Healthcare is a very hot topic right now in the home network space, with more and more devices coming into the home… All of the MSOs are actively looking at healthcare [services in the home],” he said. The expansion of in-home IoT devices came as cable readies to trial and roll out DOCSIS 3.1. Thanks to 3.1’s ability to deliver multi-gigabit speeds, “we don’t foresee any problem or congestion point on the network” despite the potential data explosion on the work, McKinney said. The former HP exec noted HP has partnered with Shell Oil on a wireless sensor network for oil and gas exploration. Such sensor features extreme sensitivity and CableLabs is exploring a variety of use cases around it.

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