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.

Scott Lachut, PSFK Labs
  • 7 july 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.

Smart Sunglasses Read People’s Emotions And Detect Trauma
O2Amps are a pair of oxygen-monitoring glasses that allow wearers to “read” other people by amplifying the coloration caused by fluctuations of oxygen levels in hemoglobin just beneath the skin. Changes in hemoglobin oxygen levels point to both social signals and medical issues. Changizi has developed three different technologies for the medical field that vary in application: a vein-finder, a trauma-detector, and a “general clinical enhancer,” that does a bit of both and has plans to bring the O2Amps to the mass market.

Your Bicep Could Soon Be A Touchscreen Computer Interface
Researchers at Linköping University in Sweden have discovered a way to insert “ion gates” into neurons, thereby creating an interface that lets machines control and regulate physiological pathways in the body. After being inserted in the body, the device would serve as a repository for neurotransmitters – the specialized chemicals that trigger certain physiological mechanisms. When the brain or external computer signals that an action is needed in a muscle or organ, the device will release the neurotransmitters so that the function can be completed as instructed. The implications of this ability are huge, in that one could actually control every physical motion and sensation, and regulate all internal processes, including emotions.

New Brain Imaging Technique Gives Insight Into Why Concussions Affect People Differently
The reason concussions affect people in widely different ways, according to a paper published in the online edition of Brain Imaging and Behavior by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and Montefiore Medical Center, is that concussion victims have unique spatial patterns of brain abnormalities that change over time. This discovery was made using a new technique for analyzing data from brain imaging studies, which, according to lead researcher Michael L. Lipton, MD, PhD, could eventually used to assess concussion damage, predict long-term neurological consequences, and evaluate the effectiveness of treatments. This is the first imaging study that was able to assess the differences between the brains of concussion victims – an outcome not possible using other data analysis techniques.

MIT Scientists Develop Video Magnification Tool That Lets Viewers See Their Pulses Through Their Skin
Eulerian Video Magnification, a new code developed by researchers at MIT, reveals the “subtle changes in the world” that are not perceived by the human eye. The process picks up on the imperceptible nuances in a video, such as an artery pumping in a wrist or the way a face reddens as blood is pumped through the body. Then it applies spatial decomposition and temporal filters to the video sequence, and amplifies the color so the nuances become visible and dynamic. This innovative technique has a wide variety of applications, from detecting one’s pulse and tracking an infant’s breathing pattern, to other types of closer surveillance.

Predicting Cancer And Disease By Examining Protein Folding
Biophysicist José Onuchic and his team at Rice University developed direct coupling analysis-fold (DCA-fold), a tool that enhances existing methods of predicting the form of a particular chain of amino acid molecules, and the function of the resulting protein. As opposed to current methods that examine the sequence of amino acids in a protein, DCA-fold delves farther and looks at the DNA sequences that determine a string of amino acids. They are increasing accuracy by accessing the large database of genomic sequence information and identify the points in the DNA sequence that appear to change at the same time, despite the distance between them within the chain. This method spots points in the sequences conserved across genomes that change together through mechanical contact.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Convinced To Cover $60,000 Medical Treatment After Social Media Campaign
Social media users recently cost Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina $60,000. When the insurance company argued that a 12-year-old girl’s treatment for a rare auto-immune disorder was too experimental to warrant coverage, despite the doctor’s successful treatment of 25 other patients, a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter urged the company to reconsider. Before an appeal could be heard by North Carolina’s Department of Insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield ultimately decided to cover the treatment.

Could This Exercise Pill Be The Magic Bullet For A Healthier Society?
Scientists at the University of Zurich identified a way to get people moving more. By boosting a hormone called erythropoietin (“Epo”), there was an increase in “maximal exercise performance” in mice. Published last week in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, their findings suggest that humans could experience major health benefits from drugs specially designed to boost Epo. They believe that Epo will have widespread and positive effects, including improving one’s mood, as well as all the general benefits from exercise.

Startup Digitizes Immunization Records In Effort To Increase Vaccinations
The startup BeImmunized aims to digitize all immunization records, making this information instantly accessible to doctors, patients, healthcare workers, and schools. Launched in February 2011 and now available nationally, BeImmunized follows the immunization guidelines published in the “Pink Book” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since there is no solid way of tracking who has received what vaccine, the current method of paper documentation of patient immunizations does not allow schools to ensure that students receive the vaccinations they need. This platform for hosting and accessing immunization information will allow for improved patient safety and accountability.

Robot Comforts The Dying During Their Last Moments, Ensuring No One Dies Alone
As a part of the Last Moment Hospital interactive installation, Dan Chen designed a robot to comfort people in their final moments of life. When the patient is lying down and the device is activated, its LED display reads “Detecting end of life” and it states its mission in comforting during those final moments, when family and friends are not available. Although a feasible design, the installation was designed to raise questions about the process of dying and intimacy without the presence of human contact.

Cells Powered By Glucose Could Function As Electricity For Prosthetics And Implants
Researchers at MIT designed a new silicon wafer embedded with fuel cells that use glucose to generate power. The fuel cell essentially mimics human cells – which transform glucose into ATP and use it to transport energy within cells, thereby driving metabolism – by reaping electrons from glucose molecules to generate a few hundred microwatts of electricity. The device’s nanostructure proves that it could someday be used to fuel self-sustaining implants.

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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