PSFK has partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim to bring you a snapshot of Five Innovative Ideas each week that are reshaping the health care industry. Continue reading below for the most exciting ideas from the past seven days.
A team of Harvard University researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have created a pill-sized device that uses a spinning laser to create a 3D map of a patient’s esophagus and stomach. The transparent capsule is about the size of a multivitamin pill, and is attached by a thin tether to an imaging/control console. Contained within the capsule is an optical frequency domain imaging system, which incorporates a rapidly-spinning near-infrared laser. As the beam swings around, it strikes the adjacent esophageal lining and is reflected back into the capsule, where photo-sensors detect it. Using that reflected light, a highly-detailed 3D map of the lining is created. The process is not invasive and the pill can read the esophagus in one minute.
The Tongueduino from Gershon Dublon at MIT’s Media Lab is an electrode pad that relays a range of feedback to a user’s tongue through electronic signals. By leveraging humans’ most sensitive and reactive organ, the Dublon hopes to imbue blind or deaf users with a level of extrasensory perception. The three by three electrode pad rests on the user’s tongue and connects through an Arduino computer to any combination of environmental sensors. The Tongueduino would allow blind users to interpret the world through sensors that register electromagnetic fields, visual data, sound, ambient movement or any other information that can be converted into an electronic signal. One possible use would be getting electromagnetometer feedback to determine direction, similar to the way migratory birds navigate.
MediSafe is a virtual pillbox app that helps remind people when to take their medications by sending timely alerts. The app also allows people to track the medication intake of those in their care, alerting them when their ‘patients’ are past due so they can give them a friendly reminder. Pills are added to the virtual pillbox by scanning the barcode on the packaging. The app recognizes the type of medication and creates an on-screen visualization of the pills that need to be consumed at different points of the day. After a few months on the market, Medisafe claims that users are taking pills on time 81% of the time – 31% higher than the average medication adherence rate of 50%.
‘Knit Alarm‘ from researchers at the Design Research Lab in Berlin is a medical sensor knit woven into the cuff of a sweater, allowing wearers to call for help simply by touching their wrist to their chest. The device relies on a motion sensor and Bluetooth connectivity to communicate with a user’s smartphone, which then initiates a phone call to a pre-selected contact. Further, designers plan to implement flashing LEDs that light up when the emergency alarm has been triggered. The sensor has been designed to be an equally functional and fashionable piece of technology.
Withings, an early entrant in the connected health products and apps market with its original Wi-Fi-enabled scale, is expanding its suite of smart products and services with two devices that further provide a big picture view on an individual’s health: the Withings Smart Activity Tracker and the Withings Smart Body Analyzer. The Smart Activity Tracker is a small device carried in the user’s pocket or on their waistband that tracks activity, heart rate and sleep patterns. The Withings Smart Body Analyzer is a smart scale that checks weight, BMI and body fat, as well as indoor air quality. Used in combination, heart rate can be measured by stepping on the scale in the morning and logged at any time during the day using the activity tracker. Both devices are Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-equipped to sync health data with the cloud via the Withings iPhone or Android app.
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 PSFK.com. 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.