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Internet of Things and smart environments : assistive technologies for disability, dementia, and aging
Shahrestani S., Springer International Publishing, New York, NY, 2017. 135 pp.  Type: Book (978-3-319601-63-2)
Date Reviewed: Nov 5 2018

I approached this book with very high hopes: the Internet of Things (IoT) is a major emerging technology; dealing with aging populations is a growing concern; and Springer typically publishes excellent books. Sadly, I was disappointed.

Starting with the trivial, the book itself does not meet Springer’s usually high standards. The binding is weak, and the book lacks even an author bio.

The level of writing is sad. The book appears not to have been edited at all. Style and grammar are extremely weak, and the text is remarkably repetitive with regard to phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and entire concepts. Obvious concepts are unduly stretched. To pick just two examples: “For many seniors, particularly for those living with dementia, memory loss or decline can be a highly distressing experience”; and “For instance, recognizing people that one can socialize with and respond to their presence, requires recognizing them.”

The book contains a number of graphs that could serve as beautiful examples of how not to create graphs. Three-dimensional (3D) rendering is used in ways that obscure readability; trivial facts are given large graphical presentations; and my favorite example: illustrating the concept that “53 [percent] of disabled men are employed and 65 [percent] of non-disabled men are employed” with a three-color graph that puts those two numbers in a stacked bar showing that 118 percent of men are, well, something indeed.

Some of the facts cited are simply wrong, including the claim that radar uses ultrasound. Other facts seem questionable, like the assertion that, in the US in 2015, 16 million family-and-friend volunteers provided more than 18 billion hours of unpaid volunteer time. This is truly wonderful if true, but I find an average of over 1100 hours per year per volunteer implausible, especially given the likely long tail of this distribution. If the fact is indeed correct, it would have behooved the author to explain why.

The text itself is little more than descriptions of the references it cites, with little attempt to consolidate the facts into reasonable sets. Even when the author attempts to summarize conclusions in his final pages, he gives a long, flabby, and fuzzy list of items, with little sharp takeaway.

The only redeeming feature I can find in this book is the large bibliography. With several pages of bibliographic notes per chapter, the book offers (my estimate) about 17 pages, and about 400 references. Given that the actual text is about 100 pages, this is an impressive collection.

I can only recommend this book to someone researching this field. The list of references will require careful curation and filtering, but does offer an extensive set of starting points.

Reviewer:  David Goldfarb Review #: CR146305 (1902-0023)
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