The Guardian Angels Flagship Pilot anticipated the importance and emergence of Internet-of-Things and Trillion-of-Sensors Planet by proposing advanced concepts such as zero-power, intelligent, autonomous systems featuring energy efficient sensing, computation and communication. The science of zero-power has pointed out needs in exploratory research at the level of novel materials, devices, and system architecture that could enable energy savings by a factor of up to 1000x for the processing of the useful bit of information. Such energy efficient technologies have been envisioned in combination with smart, multiple harvesting interfaces, capable to detect and adapt to the most appropriate sources of energy, leading to improvements by a factor of 100x in harvesters’ energy output.
In CONVERGENCE, we adopt a more focused strategy centred on proofs-of-concepts related to energy efficient sensor networks for future wearables exploiting the convergence of multi-parameter biosensors and environmental sensors on an autonomous system technology platform, serving data fusion for preventive life-style and healthcare. We connect solidly a critical mass of research institutions in-between and to some end user, to set the foundation of future emerging research project in this field, at European level by connecting national competences and resources.
The choice of a focus on wearables for preventive strategies, is because health and care services have failed to keep up with the dramatic demographic shift and life-style related diseases that are experienced in the modern society. Given the strong pressures on the healthcare system, one solution could be to ‘shift the curve’ from high-cost, reactive and bed-based care to care that is preventive and proactive with the help of energy efficient wearable technologies.
The smart systems proposed by CONVERGENCE are foreseen as wearable, wirelessly interconnected, smart, hardware embodiments, enabled by energy-efficient technologies, capable to answer the demands of life-style and medical applications in terms of autonomy for quasi-continuous collection of data for early detection strategies. These systems will certainly become a part of Internet-of-Things (IoT) and related services for a Quality-of-Life and/or for paradigm changes in the medical field. More recently this concept emerged into the so-called Internet-of-Everything (IoE), which becomes a catch-all phrase to describe adding connectivity and intelligence to just about every device in order to give them special functions. The expected innovation outputs in IoE technologies for healthcare and lifestyle are very high, as they require the interaction of multidisciplinary teams as the ones constituting the CONVERGENCE proposal.
In the approach proposed by CONVERGENCE, part of the information processing and storage could be local, while another part is communicated and processed in the cloud, depending on the application scenario and empowering the user with decisions imposing a high level of privacy and security of the data. By their associated data collection and data analytics, the CONVERGENCE systems are expected to enable personalized advice and assistance, concerning health and interaction with the environment, beyond today’s wireless sensor networks. Proofs of concepts centred on wrist devices and smart patch wearables with multiple convergent sensors, will offer unique solutions for new generations of non-invasive quasi-continuous healthcare applications. At long term, they are expected to form the basis of future generations of human-machine interfaces with capabilities unforeseen today.