PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

From a plan to achieve immortality through holographic avatars to a 3D model of your unborn child, we bring you the most innovative stories from the world of wellness research.

Scott Lachut, PSFK Labs
  • 29 august 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.

Humans Achieve Immortality As Holographic Avatars
Russian billionaire and media mogul Dmitry Itskov has formally announced plans to achieve human immortality by uploading a person’s consciousness into a holographic avatar. The 2045 Initiative, named for the year targeted for attaining the goal, has hired 30 scientists to work on a solution and will launch a social media campaign to get the rest of scientific community talking about cybernetic technologies. The idea of the project is to incrementally move the human mind into more disembodied and futuristic vehicles: first a humanoid robot controlled entirely by a human brain via a brain-machine interface, then a conscious human brain transplanted into a humanoid robot, then consciousness uploaded (sans biological gray matter) to a computer, and finally a hologram that contains a fully conscious human mind.

image via marniejoyce

Wearable Wireless Patches Provide ‘Acupuncture’ On Demand
New York College of Health Professions chairman Donald Spector has developed a wirelessly-controlled wearable skin patch that can deliver acupuncture-simulated treatment on demand. The patches will provide electrical stimulation to acupuncture points when activated, either through direct finger contact on the patch or by wireless remote control. While initially intended for the treatment of injuries and ailments, the patch can also be used on athletes to improve muscle performance and reduce fatigue. The patch is designed to be disposable and worn continuously between visits to an acupuncture therapist.

New Blood Test Could Spot Concussions Within Hours
Diagnostics company, Banyan Biomarkers, has developed a new blood test that is capable of identifying concussions within hours after an initial occurrence, providing clear evidence of a trauma that often goes untreated. Whether because patients don’t recognize symptoms or noticeable signs don’t appear on a CT scans of the brain, this lack of proper diagnosis can affect as many as 300,000 people in the US each year. The blood test detects the appearance of two proteins, UCH-L1 and GFAP, which are typically found in the brain, but can leak into the bloodstream after a head injury. To prove the success of the test, the company will conduct a 1,650 person trial later this year.

How A Shared Learning Approach Could Move Medical Innovation Into Real-World Practice Sooner
Researchers at the Group Health Research Institute have proposed the concept of a ‘learning health system’ as a way to rapidly implement the best scientific evidence available from research in real-world clinical practice. The concept, which is based on ongoing communication and engagement, is to leverage progress made in medical research and communicate that information between care providers for rapid, real-time improvements in point-of-care. With an infrastructure in place to facilitate rapid sharing of learnings, the research group was able to successfully disseminate their findings around value-based design, showing that incentives and disincentives can be used to point patients toward evidence-based services, and away from unproven ones.

Sensor Embedded Device Uses Electrical Currents To Help Stem Chronic Pain
NeuroMetrix, a medical device company focused on the diagnosis and treatment of the neurological complications of diabetes, has received FDA approval for its SENSUS system for the treatment of chronic pain. The device is designed to be worn over a patient’s upper calf and uses proprietary algorithms to generate an electric current that disrupts/modulates nerve pain signals from reaching the brain. In addition to relieving pain, the SENSUS also tracks patient usage which is important to the physician’s assessment of effectiveness. The company plans to release the devices to the public later this year.

Get A 3D Model Of Your Unborn Child
Japanese engineering company Fasotec has partnered with the Parkside Hiroo Ladies clinic to offer expectant parents 3D models of their unborn children. Rather than using ultrasound imaging to create a 2D picture, the service uses MRI scans in conjunction with a technology called Bio-Texture modeling to convert the data into a 3D image. A 3D printer creates the physical model using two different resins that produce two different colors. The result is a fetus represented in a creamy color surrounded by the mother’s tissue, represented as transparent one. The fetus-printing service is being used to publicize Fasotec’s technology, which can be used to create 3D models of internal organs and other biological structures. These can be used in physician training and medical study.

How A Kid-Friendly Environment Could Help Doctors Better Diagnose Children
At the UCSF Visual Center for the Child, eye examinations begin even before children enter the exam room. In the center’s waiting area, colorful murals and toys engage children, allowing doctors to first observe them in a casual setting, where they can check for warning signs such as a tilted head or squinting eyes. The non-clinical nature of the setting enables doctors to get information that might not otherwise be revealed in a typical examination room. In addition to the playful nature of the waiting rooms, toys and videos also are present in the exam rooms, putting children at ease while the doctors exam children with unfamiliar equipment. According to the doctors, the interactive, kid-friendly setting is key to identifying problems as early as possible.

image via puuikibeach

Students Retrofit A Digital Bathroom Scale To Monitor Common Heart Conditions
A team led by Mozziyar Etemadi, an MD/PhD student in the UCSF Medical Scientist Training Program is exploring whether a retrofitted digital bathroom scale can accurately monitor a person’s heart condition and provide warnings about potential conditions. The project named the “Cloud-Enabled Technology for Monitoring Heart Failure at Home” is seeking to tackle a rapidly growing medical problem that affects some six million Americans. Awarded $110,000 as part of the 2012 Prize for Primary Healthcare, Etemadi and his collaborators are building prototypes of the modified scales that are capable of measuring the variations in blood being pumped by the heart, which can result in minute weight fluctuations. After capturing and encrypting that data, the devices will wirelessly transmit it to a nearby cell phone, and then to remote data storage. Once there, it can be accessed online and assessed by the patient’s primary care physician.

New App Measures Your Heart Rate Using Your iPhone’s Front-Facing Camera
A team of researchers at MIT has developed a heart rate monitoring application called Cardiio that uses a smartphone’s camera to pick up the minute changes in the color of a person’s face that indicate heart rate. The application requires its users to hold a smartphone’s camera up to their face while it measures the amount of light absorbed, which can be accurately translated into heart rate. The application also allows for long-term tracking so that users can see how their heart rate has changed over time, and also how it compares against the population average.

‘Smart Fingertips’ Embedded With Sensors Pave Way for Virtual Sensations
A team of scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has designed a flexible, skin-molded fingertip embedded with sensors that could restore tactile experience to those who have lost feeling in their hands. The silicone mold is lined with conductive gold to form a circuit. The sensor provides tactile feedback by forming electric currents when the user presses an object, transmitting currents back to their actual skin and throughout the body. Potential applications include allowing trainees to perform virtual surgery, in which the device can trick the trainee’s brain into believing they were actually performing a delicate task. The electronic skin concept could also restore sensation to people who have lost their natural skin, such as burn victims or amputees.

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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