This is a great example of how the "Internet of Things" can be beneficial, but I worry that in our current American (and in some cases, global) climate of hyper-capitalist "I'll get mine, get yours, and then lock up the source so nobody else can have it...that's the way to MY perpetual growth!" ideal, such benefits won't be realized.
Consider for instance electronic medical records. EMRs are in theory, a great benefit and both patients and medical professionals were promised the wonders of the age. Instant knowledge about a patient's complete history! All facets of healthcare providers will be able to easily and securely transfer health info upon request! Patient records will be more complete and legible than ever with patients themselves able to be in custody of their own charts without their doctors and hospitals losing anything; plus, physical copying with all its cost on time (and sometimes finances) would be a thing of the past! Prescriptions can be transferred instantly and securely, including special case (ie controlled substances)! Even the Affordable Care Act had a provision that would provide tax breaks and subsidy to encourage doctors and hospitals to switch to EMR so we can start realizing these great benefits. The results however fell significantly short of projection. While there were certainly some other issues (such as poor training on the new EMRs), the main culprit was a lack of mandatory standardization and openness with respects to the EMR software. Each EMR company spawned its own proprietary product (costing tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more!) that not only was often incompatible with other EMRs, but often had so many variants, plug-ins, and configuration options that two offices using the same EMR might not actually be compatible. For all these variations these products often were not flexible enough when it counted, so if a practice or hospital wanted to modify something it would range from cumbersome to impossible. Updates also proved a problem despite the fact these companies should have known that frequent updates would be required due to changes in everything from billing parameters and CPT codes to diagnosis ICD-9 (ICD-10, and soon ICD-11 ) codes and prescription databases. The only constant was cost - every little thing was a chance to gouge a little deeper! Today, my nearby hospital has a patchwork setup of EMR modules from 3 vendors, partly or completely incompatible with each other and most of the office practices have similarly incompatible EMRs. Few if any of the benefits of transition arrived as described and many doctors and patients alike had to go through considerable amounts of frustration. Only the EMR software companies and the cottage industry that sprung up around them benefited from this quagmire and they did so heavily, thanks to this problematic implementation of what should have been a good idea.
We already know that the Internet of Things provides a similar divergent path - at its best, it will make for a more informative, convenient and usefully interconnected world, but at its worst it will be a patchwork network of privacy and security vulnerabilities on an as of yet unheard-of scale. Its all well and good to talk about the potential benefits but especially with something like elder care or any other use where peoples' lives and well being may be on the line, it is even more important that the Internet of Things be developer and implemented in the right way - which in some cases means "not at all". Proper implementation hinges upon enforcing strict guidelines of openness and compatibility.
For instance, all IoT must communicate via open standards, ideally using existing open source/spec tools when possible. When not, new standards and protocols will be created that adhere to the underlying ideals of the project (openness, security, power etc..) through a partnership between industry groups, NGOs (IEEE and such), and perhaps certain gov't agencies (like how NIST was involved in ratifying AES as a standard, picking the algorithm etc) No more of this "Your video doorbell IP cam can only be accessed with our proprietary, cloud powered app!" nonsense - make it accessible via browser through a web control panel, SSH in etc. Harden what you can for security, which should be easier with the open source nature of development. Now, its likely that some industry groups will lash out and cry because they won't get their lock in, and/or those with deeper pockets may try to offer to throw a competing standard or other sort of proprietary whatzit into the mix to regain control. One way to get around this is to ensure that any IoT connected devices that are being used for any sort of government, public, or subsidized use must use the open standards and anything they develop/extend/upgrade in the process, must contribute back. This is an overall good policy for any sort of tech involved in public funded use, but will certainly be especially useful here to ensure that few could claim the standard (even though it was designed to be extensible and to grow as necessary) is behind some proprietary alternative, as well as putting an end to those who try to push said alternative en masse. If the IoT is fully inter-operable, it will also control costs and ensure that the most beneficial use cases (such as care for those who can't care for themselves) are financially accessible to the public by removing many types of platform lock-in, forcing device manufacturers to never grow complacent and just assume they have a captive audience who will never leave because "It would cost a fortune to switch to X, as none of my stuff will work with it and I'll have to get all new X-compatible items".
The Internet of Things can bring great benefits, but without a strong counter to those who profit at the cost of user experience, security, and privacy I worry those benefits will never come to fruition.