PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

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

Wesley Robison
  • 10 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.

Flying Robots Deliver Aid To Remote Communities
Matternet has designed a network of digitally connected bays and Hoverbots to create a transportation chain to deliver on demand medicines to isolated communities. Patients can text during emergencies to signal and request medicine to a patient in need.  A network of hoverbots, that can carry a 2 kilo payload up to 10 kilometers, fly between free standing hubs that link the short range trips in order to cover entire countries. The hubs additionally offer users much needed wifi, delivery services and the opportunity to interact remotely with health care professionals. The hubs recharge bots using solar power.

iPads To Replace X-Ray And Scan Displays?
Researchers at the University of Sydney have completed a study that suggests that tablet computers could be used by doctors in hospitals to view medical images like X-rays, CT, and MRI scans with the same accuracy as standard LCD computer screens. In the past, doctors would do their rounds and then return to a desktop computer to view images. The new study reveals that iPads can be trusted by doctors to offer the same diagnostic efficacy of LCD computers when identifying lung nodules on chest x-rays, intracranial bleeds and fractures. Though the study’s results demonstrate no significant difference in performance between an iPad and LCD, currently the iPad can only be used for secondary diagnosis in accordance with regulations.

DIY Kit Turns Any Chair Into A Wheelchair
The Wheel + Chair concept is a do-it-yourself toolkit that can transform most standard four-legged chairs into a fully functional wheelchair. Utilizing a basic chair, users assemble and mount the various components of the toolkit (wheels, etc.) onto the frame of the existing chair. The kit’s components arrive in minimalist packaging, making transportation and distribution easy, especially in remote areas. Local material sourcing reduces the production and transportation costs, offering an affordable wheelchair for disabled people in the world’s poorest regions.

Caregivers Unite In Private Platform To Collaborate On Patient Care For Loved Ones
CareZone is a private, cloud-based information hub for caretakers of children, parents or spouses. Addressing the challenges involved in trying to coordinate care with several other caregivers, CareZone offers a secure, invitation only way to share private Information about a loved one’s medications, doctors, legal documents, living will, and the like. Caregivers are granted access to this information in a single hub that is protected from data-mining by advertisers, requiring only a minimal user fee each month as its sole source of revenue.

‘Guitar Hero’ Is Being Used To Help Rehabilitate Amputees
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have created  ‘Air Guitar Hero’ using a hacked version of the popular game Guitar Hero in order to create a rehabilitation exercise for people who have lost their upper limbs. In place of a controller, players connect electrodes to their arm that detect the tiny electrical impulses fired between the muscles and the brain during gameplay. The system uses pattern recognition algorithms to identify patterns in these electrical signals and decide which colored button to activate within the game. The researchers behind the project believe that using a video game in this way can be useful for building muscle tone and dexterity over repeated uses.

IBM’s Watson Helps Doctors By Dispensing High Tech Health Care Advice
IBM’s question-answering computer Watson is being prepped for a future in the doctor’s office and operating room, using its sophisticated artificial intelligence to dispense on-the-spot medical advice and recommendations. Dr. Martin Kohn, chief medical scientist at IBM research sees Watson’s learning and analysis capabilities being particularly valuable in helping determine treatment regimens for patients with more than one chronic condition. These individuals can often prove difficult to treat due to the ways different drugs interact and their effects on existing conditions. Technologies like Watson can be instrumental in transforming the health care decision making process from a primarily experience and intuition-based model into more of an evidence-based system, which can help improve the level of patient care and safety and cut down on overall costs.

DNA Sequencer Plugs Into USB Port To Analyze The Human Genome
UK-based Oxford Nanopore Technologies has developed a disposable, cost-effective DNA sequencer that employs a cluster of computer nodes and plugs into a computer’s USB port to analyze the human genome. The technology uses a proprietary nanopore detection system to seek out and study individual strands of DNA, determining base pairs. Depending on the number of nanopores contained within a single node, the company expects that certain configurations will be able to deliver a complete human genome in as few as 15 minutes. A unit that is capable of analyzing 150 million base pairs in six hours will be available later this year for $900. The goal is to democratize sequencing and eliminate the still-heady costs associated with genetic analysis, making DNA and protein sequencing as commonplace as an exam with a tongue depressor.

Brain Reading Headset Translates Thoughts Into Speech
California-based NeuroSky is crowd-funding their Mindwave product, a brainwave reading headset for patients with severely limited communication caused by conditions such as Traumatic Brain Injury and Cerebral Palsy. The $129 headset will use blink, attention, meditation, and raw EEG brain waves to interface with mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad, Android. When used in combination with 3rd party applications these inputs can be translated into computer-enabled communication, offering an cost-effective, portable alternative to current medical technologies that require patients to wear dozens of electrodes in order to read patterns of brainwaves and can cost as much as $40K.

NanoRobots Deliver Drugs, Fight Cancer
Researchers at Harvard Medical School’s Wyss Institute have developed the prototype for a hexagon-shaped nanorobot formed from a hybrid of DNA, antibodies and metal atomic clusters that is designed to fight disease by delivering drugs throughout a patient’s body. In lab tests, the prototype was able to track down and destroy lymphoma and leukemia cells contained in a petri dish. Despite initial successes, several trillion copies of the nanorobot would be required to replicate this type of treatment in an animal subject. Still, the trials offer hope for a safe and effective alternative to current cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.

Digital Asthma Monitor Connects To The Cloud To Automatically Share Symptom Data
iSonea, maker of asthma monitoring technologies, has partnered with a division of Qualcomm, to securely connect their line of Acoustic Respiratory Monitoring (ARM) devices to the cloud, enabling patients to automatically share their asthma symptom data with physicians. By arming health care providers with this data, the company hopes to offer greater insight into when, where and why asthma symptoms occur, opening the door to better treatment options. iSonea sees this partnership as a key step in demonstrating the value of their smart algorithm and analysis software to the wider marketplace. Eventually, the company aims to make their technology hardware agnostic through the development of smartphone-based versions of their devices, with the hopes of reaching a larger percentage of the 300 million asthma sufferers worldwide.

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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