In a world where daily news often revolves around the dangers of technology, of security threats, and stories of the tech giants avoiding taxes, it’s easy to get caught-up in the negative aspects of the technology industry, and to feel increasingly anxious about the future.
Vision-enhancing Devices for the Blind or Impaired
But, it’s not all bad news. We are in an age where sharing information has become easier than ever, meaning some of our brightest minds are coming up with incredible ideas for the future of Global health. Here’s an insight into just a few of them.
Bringing sight back to the blind, or the visually impaired, sounds like something from a Science Fiction novel. However, to some Technologists it’s already a reality. There have been amazing developments in the world of sight-restoring tech, including glasses which enable colour-blind people to see in the full, original spectrum, or even glasses which can restore sight completely to the legally blind.
It might sound too good to be true, but at our own show in 2018 we will feature an exclusive talk from Suzanne Grant, CEO and Founder of iBionics. Her product, the iBionics Diamond Eye, uses electrodes which stimulate the retina, which in turn sends messages to the brain. What’s even better about this product, is that it’s not a wearable, and so once implanted, there is no worry about losing or damaging an expensive pair of glasses, for example.
Recent studies have shown that giving patients the ability to monitor pre-existing health conditions at home, can lower readmission rates by as much a third – from 24% to 8% in a recent US-based trial. The development of Smart wound dressings means that patients can monitor wound healing at home, and detect the earliest stages of infection, before there are any visible signs.
The future for these types of wearables hopes to result in further connected benefits: prescriptions automatically being ordered for the correct antibiotics if an infection is detected, doctors kept up-to-date with a patient’s latest biometrics whilst they are in recovery, without the patient ever having to step inside the hospital, and clinicians even receiving alerts if there is a predicted issue in recovery.
Chatbots are nothing new – in fact, they have been around since at least the early 2000’s. Of course, they are now much more sophisticated, incorporating more advanced artificial intelligence into the mix. Particularly for the mentally-ill, or those suffering with anxiety, these Chatbots are being hailed as a lifesaver: a doctor that is mobile, available 24 hours, and without judgement. There are also obvious benefits to rural healthcare, as well as some more unusual applications, such as providing company and stimulation for the elderly – loneliness has been assessed to be a major factor in elderly health. Chatbots can also be used for training medical staff, as is being trialled by the EASH Network.
Apps that Increase Medicine Adherence
Particularly revolutionary within the U.S. market, where there is an Opioid-addiction crisis, this app may not seem the most technologically advanced, but it is certainly a game-changer. There are now apps available that allow a patient to record themselves taking addiction-treating medicines, and send it in an encrypted message to their doctor. Patients can also use this platform to communicate side-effects and issues to their doctor, and be updated with discreet alerts that it is time to take their medication. This is also an incredible step towards tackling the stigma that can often surround those suffering with addiction: this is a medically-approved app, and validates those in treatment.
Finally on this list, a wearable for mums-to-be. A company called BloomLife have created a wearable device that is designed for the third-trimester of pregnancy. This sensor is worn on the belly of a pregnant woman, linking up to an app, and is designed to track uterine contractions, alerting the mother to changes in frequency, and the likelihood of labour occurring. The product has been subjected to a multitude of clinical trials that have deemed it highly accurate, and has been recommended by Midwives and Doctors across the United States. There are hopes that this kind of technology will see further empowerment for expecting mothers, and assist in education, lessening unnecessary hospital admissions and saving hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.