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Posts from the ‘Invention’ Category

The Robot Report from CES 2012: Medical Implications

I got access to the Robot Report written by Frank Tobe from the recent Consumer Electronics Show 2012. He featured many innovative and futuristic consumer robots out of which a few, I think, had real medical or health-related implications. You can download the document here. An excerpt:

Consumer robotics represented a very small part of CES but had the same combination of glitz, glamour, marvelous stuff, misrepresentation, uninspiring products and hidden gems, just like the rest of CES. Robotics Trends hosted a Robotics Tech Zone but the action was well beyond their purview because many of the companies wanted to emphasize their consumer orientation instead of highlighting the robotic.

Some examples:

  • PerMMA, a personal mobility and manipulation appliance for power wheelchair users.
  • Myomo, rehabilitation robotics and interactive gaming systems for stroke victim rehab.
  • Mantaro telepresence robot, a mobile Skype platform using your own iPhone or iPad.

  • Paro, the therapeutic furry seal-like bot for hospitals and eldercare.

Digital cane helps track of vital signs

I’ve recently come across this digital cane designed by a Lithuanian designer Egle Ugintaite for the Fujitsu 2011 design award in which he won the grand prize. Great idea!

The cane, which is known as the Aid, has a built-in navigator that provides the user directions to a certain location. So if you get lost, this cane will point the way home.

Additional features include monitors for the user’s pulse, blood pressure, as well as body temperature. These important numbers are displayed on the LCD screen on the cane’s clasp. It even has a button for sending out an SOS in case of emergency.

Withings Blood Pressure Monitor for iOS

One of the most interesting things I saw at this year’s Doctors 2.0 and You event was Withins’ Blood pressure monitor.

This iPhone-connected blood pressure monitor made its first appearance at CES, but you’ll finally be able to order one of your own today. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, the $129 accessory costs three to four times as much as off-the-shelf blood pressure monitors, but integrates well if you’re looking to pair it with your Withings scale for a complete vitals management solution.

From Patients on Facebook to WiFi Enabled Asthma Inhalers

In the USA, birthplace of most of these technological advances, various associations of health-care professionals are starting to issue codes of conduct when dealing with new digital media. Other countries, such as the UK, Canada, and Australia, are also debating what rules should be set. But some doctors believe such codes will have to evolve and adapt as younger generations, used to living an online life from an early age, start to dominate health care and to teach subsequent waves of professionals.

  • TEDxPugetSound – Stephen Friend, MD, PhD – True Crowd Sourcing of Medicine: Activating All of Us

But I find the element of human support to be important.  For example, recently the FDA issued a black box warning for the concomitant use of Remicade and 6-MP.  My representative visited to be sure that I was aware of the changes in the product insert.  Sure the information was in my mailbox – along with 6 inches of pulp spam.  It’s basic attenionomics: I’m more likely to hear a person than a letter.

If your asthma is acting up, you’re probably not the only one. But unless you’re standing next to someone who is also huffing his or her inhaler, you wouldn’t know it. That’s a problem for epidemiologists who do their best work when they’re buried in data, and it’s exactly the problem a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researcher aims to solve with a GPS- and WiFi-enabled inhaler.

For the past nine years, this column has presented medical mysteries that doctors eventually solve. Recently, we tried something different: posting a tough-to-diagnose case on and challenging readers to try to figure out what was wrong with the patient. More than 1,300 people responded with a lively combination of questions and answers. Now, you can try to crack the case and follow the crowd-sourced medical conversation.

  • NeoTake: A great e-book search engine for medical books as well

Robotic pharmacy automatically distributes medication

It’s just getting more and more amazing how robotics can be implemented into healthcare. One of the latest examples belongs to the UCSF Medical Center where they now use robotic pharmacy in order to remove medication errors from the system. The most impressive thing, we think, is that our robot pals have not had a single error since preparing 350,000 doses of meds. 

Robots are slowly taking over the world, right? Well, their latest conquest is the pharmacy. The UCSF Medical Center has implemented three robotic pill-dispensing machines that handle and prepare medication that’s dangerous to the common human. The process works as follows: doctor writes a prescription, hospital clerk sends it over to pharmacist, pharmacist enters slip into the computer, robot picks up it and does the dirty work. The automated machine will grab the proper dosage, package it and slap a label indicating instructions and patient info. Rather than fearing for their jobs (or lives), the folks at the UCSF at are excited about this robot-takeover ’cause it increases the time care-givers spend with patients while allowing pharmacists to work more efficiently with physicians in determining what medication to supply.

(Hat tip: Engadget)

Thermo Mirror measures body temperature

I wouldn’t buy a mirror for over $1000 only to measure my body temperature from 30 centimeters away, but there must be someone in Japan who will do so because a Japanese electronics firm NEC/Avio just presented at CES 2011 this technology.

All this without sticking a glass mercury stick underneath your tongue! So when you call in sick to work from your cellular phone, you actually have the evidence that you are indeed “under the weather”. In fact, your boss can even hear the confirmation because the Thermo Mirror will sound an alarm if your temperature is above normal.

By the way, when the Thermo Mirror is not displaying your personal body temperature, it is displaying other information such as the date, time, humidity, and weather temperature.

The product probably works with infrared thermography.

Best ECG Mobile Solution Ever

I’ve already written about numerous ECG solutions in smartphones (see below), but a recent Medgadget report beats them all.What you need is an iPhone with the special app, a wireless case and you can perform an ECG. There are so many great ideas which will probably never be used in practice, but this, I believe, will be an exception.

Seattle, Washington based Alivecor will be showing off its new iPhonECG system at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The company has partnered with Oregon Scientific to manufacture the units, which are expected to sell for under $100 a piece.

Related posts:

2011 CES Innovation Honorees in Healthcare

Yesterday, the huge CES conference was launched in which there are plenty of Innovations Honorees in the healthcare category. It seems devices designed for hearing loss or damage rule this year’s health category. Here is the full list with details, and here is my summary:

  • An In-Ear Assistive Listening Device that provides full time low level amplification with situational hearing solutions
  • Hearing instrument system comprising an “industry first” proprietary digital wireless communication solution
  • High-Fidelity Electronic BlastPLG Earplugs were developed to mitigate hearing damage and tinnitus sustained by deployed soldiers.
  • Moneual Silver Care Robot
  • Digital sports watch aimed at Nike runners.
  • Pharos’ Cognit is designed for individuals living with brain injuries, mental disorders, and other cognitive challenges.
  • MyTrek is a heart beat monitoring system that attaches to a forearm and pairs with your iPhone
  • The patented ErgoMotionTM Keyboard provides comfortable and innovative typing experience.
  • OtoLens™ is the first invisible-in-the-canal hearing aid.
  • TabSafe is a medical management device that gives reminders for medications and activities.
  • SmartBabyPhone, based on digital convergence, is a smart sensor communicating with any connected screen.



Implantable blood sugar sensor

Engadget just reported a fantastic technology which enables diabetes patients to measure blood sugar levels without finger pricks.

A crew of researchers from The University of Tokyo and BEANS Research Institute are in the process of developing a newfangled blood sugar sensor that “reacts to glucose and lights up inside the body.” ‘Course, injecting dyes into humans in order to receive interpretable signals ain’t exactly new, but hydrogel is what makes this approach unique. As the story goes, this jelly-esque material can be implanted within the body, enabling blood sugar levels to be monitored and measured externally with no pain or irritation whatsoever. In theory, a monitoring system could trigger an alert as soon as the internal levels dipped or rose beyond a predetermined extreme, giving those with diabetes a maximum amount of time to get things back in balance.

The Future of Medical Imaging

Have you every wondered what happens if you combine a 3D TV with virtual reality in medical imaging? Well, the device described in the video was developed by the University of California, San Diego and costs around $10,000. CoolestGadgets commented on this:

HUVR “couples a consumer 3D HDTV panel with a half-silvered mirror to project any graphic image onto the user’s hands and/or into the space surrounding them”. Apparently, the user’s head is tracked in order to get the correct perspective, and there is a haptic feedback device on hand for manipulation. I noticed that their haptic device looks a lot like a Novint Falcon, which I believe was designed for 3D gaming.

And as a second step, if you think it will lead to even more complicated interfaces, well, see what Hitachi developed, a gesture-based interface:


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