Internet of Everything: Predicting Cancer with a Connected Bra


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At Cisco, we often talk about the power of the Internet of Everything– to reduce traffic congestion, to refresh our refrigerators, to make our everyday lives more convenient. But now, the Internet of Everything is saving lives.

In 2012 alone, more than 1.7 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer — that’s more than 4,600 women diagnosed with this life-threatening illness every day.

It can be hard to wrap one’s mind around just how common, and equally devastating, cancer can be. It has affected me personally, as well as the lives of my closest family members and friends. When it touches your life, or those around you, the impact is deep and long lasting.

Statistics on the prevalence of breast cancer and the personal stories of those impacted can be frightening, but there is more than just hope. Incredible strides across all forms of cancer are happening, and in many cases, they come in the form of early detection through ground-breaking technology.

You’ve heard of the Internet of Things (IoT). In fact, you’re probably wearing a FitBit or Jawbone on your wrist. You may be the owner of a smart thermostat like Nest. Or you’ve recently heard the hype about self-driving cars.

These connected devices are changing the way we live, work and play – and there are many more to come.

Today, only 1% of all devices that could be connected to the Internet are connected to the Internet.

By 2020, 20 billion devices will come online, amounting to a $19 trillion market opportunity for businesses and consumers. This next era of the Internet – the Internet of Everything (IoE) – will connect not only things, but also people, process and data to transform how we track our fitness, regulate traffic, conserve energy, tackle poverty and more.

But perhaps most importantly, the Internet of Everything will save lives. And it’s not as far off as you may think.

In 2013, Silicon Valley entrepreneur and scientist Rob Royea was confronted with a powerful question.  What if a woman’s bra could take the place of monthly breast exams, alerting her to the potential development of breast cancer? If it were possible, could this technology give doctors and patients more time to react?

Inspired, Rob set off to help launch a technology whose time had come. Unlike healthy cells, cancer cells demonstrate abnormal temperature patterns. Rob and his team at Cyrcadia Healthhave developed a bra equipped with sensors that read cellular temperatures, transmit data in real-time to a patient database, and alert both doctor and patient to abnormal readings via smartphone. Currently undergoing medical trials, the so-called ‘iT Bra’ is expected to reach the consumer marketplace in 2016. Cyrcadia believes its innovation could reduce the number of unnecessary breast biopsies by up to 50%, especially among women with dense breast tissue, for whom mammography often doesn’t work.  Used as a monthly breast screening system, iT Bra will provide thousands of women early warnings of cancer formation, enabling doctors to implement treatment plans sooner and ultimately saving lives.

Cisco has been following Rob and his team’s efforts closely, as their work is an incredible example of how innovation made possible by the Internet of Everything can change, and ultimately save, lives. We’ve funded documentary filmmaker Ironbound Films to tell Rob’s story in the hopes it will propel further innovation in this next wave of the Internet.

Scheduled for release in late 2015, the documentary ‘DETECTED’ follows Rob and his supporters from concept to manufacture to trial, and then to market. It is a tangible demonstration of how connected technology will change the world.

While a powerful medical breakthrough, iT bra is only one example of the Internet of Everything at work in the healthcare industry. Innovators are already bringing wearable fitness trackers, heart monitors and smart scales to market. In the next three to five years, the number of health-related connected devices will explode. According to TechNavio, the global connected health market will grow at an annual growth rate of 33 percent by 2019. Parks Associates estimatedthat device manufacturers will sell more than 70 million personal health and wellness products by 2018, amounting to an $8 billion market.  Soon, data from these devices will be transmitted directly to your physician so he or she can develop a customized health program designed specifically for your needs and lifestyle.

Cisco’s role in this exciting evolution is significant. We will build the foundation that connects all of this technology, ensure your data remains secure, develop communication and collaboration tools that will enable healthcare providers to derive insights from your real-time data, and partner with entrepreneurs to bring innovative ideas to life.

The future is exciting. And for cancer patients, full of hope. We’ve found a ground-breaking example of the positive impact the Internet of Everything will have on our healthcare industry, and invite you to join us on this powerful journey when we unveil ‘DETECTED’ in the coming months.

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