The future of healthcare is shaping up in front of our eyes, with a host of technologies transforming the way we detect illnesses, treat patients, and develop new cures.
Just like how mobile technology transformed everything from the way we shop to the way we hail a taxi, technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and nano-technology is revolutionising healthcare forever.
Technology in this sector is growing at a rapid pace. 5G will enable surgeons to perform robotic operations from other continents. Augmented reality is set to change our understanding of the human body. AI will help us detect the onset of early illnesses. Virtual reality will enable us to give better and more innovative rehabilitation options for patients. Quite simply, everything is changing and it’s all down to technology.
Earlier this month, one of the largest consumer electronics show- CES 2019 – took place in Las Vegas. CES is a mammoth showcase of many of the best new tech innovations that are either already in the market or what we can expect to see released over the next 12 months.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at which medical tech innovations caught our eye this year- from the weird to the wonderful.
1. The Omron Heartguide blood pressure smartwatch
Japanese tech company, Omron, last year introduced its Heartguide smartwatch at last year’s tech show in Vegas. The company announced that the wearable piece of tech will be able to take medical-grade measurements and night readings to test for hypertension as well as to measure the risk of stroke while sleeping. And with it coming from the largest manufacturer of blood pressure machines, the likelihood of it delivering on its promise is pretty high.
After the products debut in last years CES show, the smartwatch went through clinical testing and has now been given the green light by the FDA. And earlier this month, Omron began to market the product. Say goodbye to outdated blood pressure cuffs and traditional forms of measurement, and hello to game-changer technology.
2. The AI personal assistant hearing aids
Last year, hearing solutions manufacturer Oticon introduced the rechargeable Opn hearing aid and the Dynamo for severe hearing loss. At this years’ CES show, the company presented its Kaizn smart algorithm-powered hearing aids.
The AI solution received the 2019 CES “Best of Innovation” award in the software and mobile apps category and has been named a CES Innovation Honoree in the Tech for a Better World category.
Just as Netflix recommends watchers new shows based on their past viewing behaviour, the AI built into Kaizn learns from a wearer’s listening preferences, habits, and environments to predict their preferences in a certain scenario.
The device collects and analyses data about an individual’s hearing aid use and listening environments to learn their behaviours and hearing preferences. From this, it then automatically adjusts their hearing aid settings for an optimised listening experience.
3. The IBM Watson and Medtronic low-glucose warning system
The tech goliath, IBM Watson, has partnered with diabetes management giant, Medtronic. Together, they have developed an AI-powered tool to help with people with diabetes better predict the likelihood when they will experience a low glucose event within an upcoming 1-4-hour window.
This feature – called IQcast – is part of the Sugar.IQ personal diabetes app, which is available on Apple’s iOS platform. During the event, IBM also revealed the world-first “fingernail sensor” prototype. When combined with AI and machine learning, this could change the way clinicians leverage data. For instance, using changes in an individual’s grip strength to monitor and track disease.
4. DFree’s wearable against incontinence
Across the globe, urinary incontinence is a large problem for many individuals. In fact, the NHS estimates that between 3 and 6 million people in the UK have some degree of urinary incontinence.
Fortunately, a company called Triple W offers the benefits of ultrasound technology and connected devices as a solution to this problem.
Their product, DFree, uses ultrasound technology to monitor how full the bladder is and notifies the user via their smartphone or tablet when it’s time to go to the bathroom. This is a wonderful alternative to disposable diapers or pads and allows seniors and people with disabilities more autonomy in managing a loss of bladder control.
5. The virtual nurse
How would you feel having a virtual nurse monitor you daily? At the CES show this year, Electronic Caregiver unveiled Addison Care, an augmented reality-AI based “virtual caregiver.”
The aim of this is to facilitate healthcare professionals in monitoring people in their homes, ensuring they are taking their medicine, and providing warnings if there are any problems developing.
A female nurse-like chatbot named Addison appears on 15-inch monitors which are strategically placed throughout the individuals’ residence. She carries two-way conversations and is programmed for each individual’s personal needs and plans of care.