Tracking Every Pill, Every Piece Of Food – IBM Is Now Designing Your Personal Barcode

Wednesday, November 3, 2010
By Paul Martin

Tracking Every Pill, Every Piece Of Food – The Internet Of Things Cometh

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IBM may be a big scary corporation, but there are bigger and scarier worries out there. Among them is counterfeit prescription drugs. According to the computer giant, around 10% of the medication consumed globally is a forgery. Looks the same, tastes the same, but it could kill you. As more countries, like China and India and Brazil, get into the development and distribution of prescription drugs, the volume of international sales will increase. As will counterfeit production. Testing every pill before it is consumed is probably impractical, but tracking every pill may not be. IBM is developing the software that, in conjunction with barcodes, GPS sensors, and environmental controls, could help us ensure that every drug we take came from the manufacturers we trust and in the condition they required. It’s the Internet of Things for prescription drugs, and it could save lives and streamline inventory all over the world. Watch IBM’s executives explain their ideas in the video below. Universal tracking of medications, food, and more could be upon us very soon.

Think about this: there are probably around 1 billion people on the internet. Most are sending email, checking statuses on Facebook, and posting weird photos to /b/ on 4Chan. In the future billions of more people are going to come online, but they are likely to be dwarfed in number by an even larger group: smart objects. Tiny GPS sensors, QC barcodes, and environmental sensors are going to turn every shipment of goods (from apples to stereos) into a hive of digital information that is constantly uploaded to the net. Special software will be needed to track the trillions (yes, trillions) of objects that will compose this Internet of Things. IBM is looking to tackle that job head on, designing the systems that will organize data from objects and control things like temperature and humidity in shipping containers to optimize freshness. It’s a daunting task, but as IBM describes in the video below, the benefits are great. And the alternative is chaos.

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