PSFK Pick’s: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

PSFK Pick’s: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

We bring you the most stimulating and exciting stories from the world of wellness research.

Wesley Robison
  • 2 march 2012


PSFK has partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim to bring you a snapshot of Ten Innovative Ideas each week that are reshaping the health care industry. Continue reading below for the most exciting ideas from the past seven days.

Patient-friendly MRI Provides New Insight Into Obesity And Diabetes Research

GE unveiled a double strength MRI scanner at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in the UK that will enable doctors to do more extensive research into the human stomach without the harmful side effects of long term exposure to X-Rays. The added accuracy of the scanner will be crucial in examining the liver, fat and internal tissues providing greater understanding of obesity and diabetes. The scans will also offer new insight into the internal interactions between drugs, food and bacteria. In addition to providing better imaging, the technology is more patient-friendly, offering more space and alleviating the claustrophobic feeling many feel during an MRI scan.

Augmented Reality Surgery Goggles

The European Space Agency (ESA) has developed a prototype pair of Augmented Reality goggles to assist astronauts in conducting a range of surgeries during extended missions. The Computer Assisted Medical Diagnosis and Surgery System (CAMDASS) uses a stereo head-mounted display and an ultrasound tool tracked via an infrared camera. Special markers placed on the patient’s body enable it to be tracked by the camera and also calibrate the display to each wearer’s vision. 3D augmented reality cue cards are then displayed in the headset to guide the wearer through the procedure and speech recognition technology enables hands-free control. Designers hope to implement the system for remote controlled operations by emergency response teams.

Med-school Textbook Goes Digital, Gets Social, Interactive Features

Inkling, a San Francisco based start-up, has re-imagined a popular 4,400-page medical school textbook for the iPad, adding interactive animations and other multimedia elements – enough digital content to fill 57 additional chapters – including more than five hours of instructional video. The digital version of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, originally published by McGraw-Hill, will feature fully searchable content and offer a number of valuable features such as social highlighting and quiz diagrams. Inkling hopes to release versions for other reading platforms in the future.

Surgeons Use Diamond Coating To Reinforce Artificial Joints

Researchers from University of Alabama at Birmingham have witnessed positive results from a nanodiamond coating used to to treat artificial joints made of metal alloys. The material helps to extend the life of the implant, while reducing the amount of metal fragments caused by wear, which can cause inflammation, pain and ultimately lead to joint failure. Diamond coated implants fragment at a smaller size and can easily be absorbed by the bodies immune system. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, more than 418,000 knee replacements and 328,000 hip replacements are performed in the US each year; numbers that are expected to rise as the nation’s population ages.

Sponges Coated With ‘Clotting Agent’ Stop Bleeding Almost Instantaneously

Researchers at MIT have collaborated with Ferrosan Medical Devices to develop a biological coating that when applied to highly-absorbent sponges can help stop severe bleeding almost instantaneously. The spray-on coating consists of two materials already approved for use by the FDA – thrombin, a natural clotting protein, and tannic acid, a small molecule found naturally in tea – that when combined create a stable, effective clotting agent. Once sprayed, the sponges can be stored for months before use, and when needed, can be molded to fit the shape of any wound.

Zap Your Brain Into A Temporary State Of Zen-like Focus

Roy Hamilton, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania, is doing research into using small electrical currents to stimulate parts of the brain into an optimal balance of critical thought and action. By applying this transcranial direct current stimulation while someone is practicing a skill, researchers believe that it can accelerate the formation of new neural pathways. Some experts theorize that the technique has proven effective because it limits critical thought in the prefrontal cortex, a condition necessary for achieving a Zen-like state of focus. Test subjects have demonstrated increased performance when playing video games in recent trails. And though the results are only temporary, further study can offer insights into improving brain functionality.

Tablet Provides Access To Vital Diagnostics From Anywhere

Arthur Zang, an engineer from Cameroon, has developed a touchscreen tablet computer that enables remote health care workers in rural areas to administer an electrocardiogram (ECG) and relay the results to urban health care centers for interpretation, providing access to vital services and eliminating the need for costly travel. The device, called the Cardiopad, operates much like a traditional ECG machine; electrodes connect to a module which in turn plugs into the tablet. Once the test is complete, the results are wirelessly transmitted to professionals who can provide expert analysis and advice on further treatment options. If produced commercially, the Cardiopad could save countless lives in Cameroon and beyond. The central African nation has a population of 20 million, but currently only claims 30 heart surgeons among them.

Wearable Sensor Device Captures Motion In 3D

InvenSense, a leading provider of motion tracking technologies, released the MotionFit system development kit and wearable multi-sensor device, which features integrated 9-Axis motion tracking capabilities, making it the first of its kind in the world. The technology makes it possible to capture metrics from a across a wider ranger of motions, constructing a truer ‘data picture’ of any activity within 3D space compared to the 3-axis accelerometers currently available on the market. The new MotionFit builds on these existing functions by also incorporating a 3-axis gyroscope and 3-axis compass along with a pressure sensor, pulling in data as customers engage in athletic activities like running, hiking, swimming, playing tennis or riding a bike. The device has a Bluetooth module to wirelessly broadcast data to a smartphone or PC, and can store up to 5 hours of data. Programmers and quantified self fans can purchase MotionFit for $149 and download the open-source code for free, enabling them to develop their own applications for visualizing the data.

Mobile App And Biosensor Band Predict Drug Cravings

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School are developing a mobile health care application called iHeal that works in combination with biosensors to track subtle physiological changes, helping patients with a history of substance abuse manage their addiction. Individuals wear a sensor band around their wrist that measures the electrical activity of the skin, body motion, skin temperature and heart rate — all indicators of arousal or stress. The band wirelessly transmits these metrics to a smartphone, which can interpret the data and prompt the wearer to provide further information. iHeal’s ultimate goal is to identify, in real-time, drug cravings and deliver personalized, multimedia drug prevention interventions at the moment of greatest need.

Web App Tracks Illness Outbreaks In Real-Time Using Social Media

Sickweather is a new start-up that uses an algorithm to track Facebook and Twitter updates in order to help forecast sickness outbreaks across the country. The service tracks mentions of 20 different symptoms and illnesses such as the common cold, stomach flu, chicken pox and allergies across public geo-tagged Facebook and Twitter updates. Sickweather then plots the gathered data on an interactive map that allows users to see reports of sickness in their area in real-time. The Baltimore-based company will soon be expanding their service to mine data from Google+ posts and they are releasing an iPhone app so that users can track/report illnesses while on the go.

PSFK has partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim to bring you a steady stream of inspiring news and ideas in the health and wellness space. Once each week, we will be posting an article on If you would like to gain access to the full stream of content, please check out Boehringer Ingelheim’s Facebook page, where they are publishing a regular stream of inspiring and informative content.


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