May 14, 2014
A number of major tech companies have started to take an interest in the healthcare industry. Hardware is rushing to catch up to the innovations in software over the recent years, and will catapult healthy living onto the forefront of innovation. The digital healthcare world is in dire need of improvements, and here are some of the exciting things coming our way.
Image Courtesy of Stefan Larsson at Flickr.com
The always active Apple rumor mill says that the company plans to release its first wearable tech device later this year called the iWatch. In conjunction with Healthbook, a new software suite coming with iOS 8, Apple is poised to lead the charge in revitalizing the digital healthcare industry much in the way it has revitalized the way retail stores conduct business.
The hardware/software combo is said to allow users to monitor their heart rate, weight, steps and even blood sugar, hydration and blood oxygen levels; all from a device worn on the wrist. It’s unclear how many of these rumors are true, but Apple hardly does anything small and they are known to have been snatching up health experts to help develop these technologies. We will have a clearer image when they announce their new products in the fall.
This tech giant is already extremely active in the healthcare industry. They’ve launched what appears to be a co-venture of sorts with Apple, called Calico (California Life Company). The company is greatly interested in tackling health issues related to aging and will use Calico to help with research into wellness and aging-related illnesses.
They don’t stop there, however. Google announced that they have met with the FDA regarding contact lenses that would serve as a non-invasive glucose monitor. While the everyday use of this technology may be several years into the future, the attention being paid to it from a titan such as Google is promising.
Also, Google, together with Bill Gates, invested in Foundation Medicine. The company is working closely with DNA of cancer patients hoping to find some sort of carrier gene that will help isolate the origins of the destructive disease. This would allow not only better, more specialized treatments, but stronger preventative measures as well.
On the hardware end of things, Samsung has joined the throng of smart trackers by installing heartbeat sensors on all their future devices. Now their more active customers will be given an all-in-one solution to their healthy lifestyles without having to invest in expensive alternate hardware.
In research, Samsung owns the Samsung Cancer Research Institute where it conducts clinical trials based on cancer in the human genome. They work with software developed by Genalice that allows the human genome to be analyzed in a mere 25 minutes.
Working together with IMEC, a Belgian research institute, Panasonic has developed a DNA testing chip. At about half the size of a business card, the chip can analyze a person’s DNA within a single hour. It detects a specific elements in the DNA related to genetic diseases and the potential effectiveness of treatments in a given individual. If widely implemented, it will drastically improve doctors’ abilities to properly diagnose and treat patients.
A longtime supporter of the healthcare industry, Intel has helped hospitals set up wireless networking and conduct research. Last year, they partnered with Oregon Health and Science University to conduct cancer research as it relates to the human genome by comparing healthy individuals to cancer patients as a way of detecting the genetic abnormalities that may be connected to the debilitating disease.
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