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Posts from the ‘Future’ Category

Why Predicting The Future Is Not Possible Without Knowing Today’s Trends

Minsuk Cho, South Korean architect, curates an “epic-scale show about both Koreas” at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale. One of the most exciting projects they present there is the result of how architects of North Korea designed the future of houses and cities without actually ever leaving the country or studying about other city design in details.

Look what kind of futuristic concepts they came up with while, for instance, keeping the old types of phones alive, not really moving forward with the advances of technology.

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It clearly shows how important it is to stay up-to-date about how technology is advancing today in order to be able to make informed decisions and assumptions about the future.

This is why I launched a Facebook page under the name The Medical Futurist to curate and publish news, reports and analyses about the most important trends and technologies that will shape the future of medicine. Feel free to join the discussion there!

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Future of Glasses and Wearable Technology: Documentary

Watch this rather long documentary about the future of glasses, augmented reality and wearable technology to get ideas about what is coming towards us in medicine and healthcare.

 

Reinventing The Medical Curriculum

Medical curriculum worldwide cannot meet the needs of today’s e-patients and technologies any more, therefore there is time for a substantial change. Good examples are sporadic but at least exist. At Monash University, they developed a kit of 3D-printed anatomical body parts to revolutionize medical education and training. I studied anatomy when I was a medical student from books with tiny font sizes and old atlases. Here is how it can be a different experience.

The 3D Printed Anatomy Series kit, to go on sale later this year, could have particular impact in developing countries where cadavers aren’t readily available, or are prohibited for cultural or religious reasons. After scanning real anatomical specimens with either a CT or surface laser scanner, the body parts are 3D printed either in a plaster-like powder or in plastic, resulting in high resolution, accurate color reproductions.

 

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Moreover, in the Netherlands, a 3D bioprinting Masters program was just introduced and now they plan to become a global centre of bioprinting. This is how medical schools and institutions worldwide should aim at adopting new technologies. This is what the main organizer said:

“There will be 120 researchers completely dedicated to regenerative medicine and biofabrication. Our main work within the bioprinting facility in the early stages is on cartilage and underlying bones. For this type of biological structures, bioprinting technologies are mature and the development of bioinks is taking off exponentially. Our goal is to create a hub of knowledge focused on Utrecht while reaching out to the international scientific community.”

If we don’t change curriculum worldwide, it will be late to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s world.

 

 

The Dangers of the Future

In my new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine coming out this August, I’ll feature plenty of analyses of the potential dangers we will all have to face due to new technologies. There will be new diseases because of the excessive use of virtual reality applications and it will be a real challenge to persuade people not to live an entirely virtual life.

A new article on Techcrunch, Immersive Infections, features some of these threats with a focus on augmented and virtual reality. It’s worth running over the examples it comes up with in order to prepare for the threats of the next few years.

One of the key components of Augmented Reality (AR) tech is its ability to facilitate interaction with the real world in new ways. This means that in order to provide digital content overlayed on the real world, these devices require the use of cameras.

A camera attached to an AR device that is attached to you can be a very dangerous thing. Consider if you will, malware that can use said camera to take pictures during a user’s most private times. These instances are never meant to be seen by the public, but by using the connections to social media these devices will no doubt have available, a cyber criminal can post these pictures onto the user’s social media whenever they want. Of course the most likely scenario would be if the user refused to pay a ransom.

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The Future of Cardiology: Check This Slideshow

Christian Assad Kottner, MD who I met at Futuremed last year now gave a talk at Singularity University’s Exponential Cardiology GSP14 track about the future of cardiology. The basic issues behind heart diseases, today’s interventions and the possibilities of the future from imaging to 3D bioprinting are presented in details in this slideshow.

From Doctor to Futurist: Step #8 My Own Methods

After fulfilling my childhood dream of becoming a doctor and a geneticist, I decided to make a brave change in my academic career and tried to merge my two selves: the doctor and the geek. As there was no profession like that, I created one. This is how I started discovering the steps needed to become a medical futurist. There is no clear path or course for that, therefore I try to reveal more and more pieces of information about this exciting journey in a series of blog entries.

The last years of this journey culminated in the book I’ll release in about 4-5 weeks. The Guide to the Future of Medicine features all the trends, technologies and concepts we will all have to face soon in medicine and healthcare. During the time I was writing the book, my method of gathering information and expert opinions worldwide had to significantly improve.

Besides trying all the traditional methods futurists usually use such as scenario planning, I came to the conclusion that networked foresight is the format I’m most familiar with. As I have been crowdsourcing medical information, sometimes even diagnoses, through my social media channels for years, I turned to this expert network to get insights nobody else could get.

It led to identifying around 100 experts from genomics to surgical robotics and doing about 70 interviews; moreover I used these online networks dedicated to determining the future of medicine to gather additional information and details to make the book as comprehensive and fact-filled as possible.

When it comes out, hopefully, you will understand why I chose and customized this method to get the best potential results and will realize, just as I did, how hard and exciting it is to try to predict the future.

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Steps taken so far:

Google And Novartis Tracking Diabetes With Smart Contact Lenses

A few months ago I discussed the future features of smart contact lenses. Now using these to augment vision or track health parameters is not only a good idea any more, as Google launched a partnership with the pharmaceutical company Novartis to develop smart contact lenses that can track diabetes by measuring blood glucose levels in tears and fix farsightedness as well.

As part of the agreement, Google[x] and Novartis’ eye care division Alcon will create smart lenses that feature “non-invasive sensors, microchips and other miniaturized electronics” and focus on two main areas. The first will provide a way for diabetic patients to keep on top of their glucose levels by measuring the sugar levels in their tear fluid, feeding the data back to a smartphone or tablet. The second solution aims to help restore the eye’s natural focus on near objects, restoring clear vision to those who are only farsighted (presbyopia).

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Computer or Human Caregiver?

There has been a long debate whether people would want to get the right diagnosis and the best treatment from human caregivers or algorithms/programs providing the same quality. Every round table or discussion group I have ever been the member of concluded that people need people in interaction and communication, especially when they are vulnerable. However, there is nothing to make us believe there won’t be an algorithm that can diagnose a disease better than a human doctor.

To make this issue even more complicated, new research found patients are more likely to respond honestly to personal questions when talking to a virtual human.

“The power of VH (virtual human) interviewers to elicit more honest responding comes from the sense that no one is observing or judging,” note the researchers, led by Gale Lucas of the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies. People have a strong tendency to want to look good in front of others, including doctors; this problematic tendency can be short-circuited using this high-tech tool.

If you think this is something we don’t have to deal with yet, try to convince yourself that the chatbot you are talking with is not a human. Coming up with the right questions to prove that is a good exercise before the era of artifical intelligence. Here are some examples, but not all of these links work all the time.

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How Does a Brain-Controlled Exoskeleton Work?

Have you seen the most important 5 seconds of the recent opening ceremony of the Football World Cup? A person standing in an exoskeleton controlled the machine with his thoughts and made the first kick of the game. Isn’t is amazing? It should have received a much larger attention.

Popular Science summarized in a report and a video how it actually worked and what happened in the backstage. Here are some interesting details:

The sensors placed on Juliano Pinto record angle, position, pressure, and temperature, that is then fed back to the subject through vibrations placed on their torso. These vibrations create an illusion in the brain itself that the subject is responsible for limb movement. In a sense, the exoskeleton is incorporated as an extension of the person’s body.

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Finger Device Reads to the Blind in Real Time

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) came up with a fantastic device that can read written words out loud for people with impaired vision. Not surprisingly, the device was printed out with a 3D printer and has to be worn on the index finger.

A synthesized voice reads words aloud, quickly translating books, restaurant menus and other needed materials for daily living, especially away from home or office.

Reading is as easy as pointing the finger at text. Special software tracks the finger movement, identifies words and processes the information. The device has vibration motors that alert readers when they stray from the script, said Roy Shilkrot, who is developing the device at the MIT Media Lab.

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A few more years with such developments, and having a health issue will not be a disadvantage any more.

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