Archive for the ‘health’ Category
It’s true, a team of researchers have created a one-cubic-millimeter throwaway camera, and if they have their way, it could be peeking inside you in the next year. The new tiny shooters, which sport a 250 x 250 pixel resolution, are created using a streamlined process in which the lens and sensor wafers are affixed before being cut into a series of 28,000 little cameras — eliminating the need to mount and wire each one individually. This new mode of production cuts back on cost significantly, allowing physicians to throw away the little guys after routing around in your intestines. According to the camera’s creators, their diminutive invention could make its way into your doctor’s office as early as 2012.
We’d bother with the obvious, but there’s no sense in acting exasperated that this thing is finally shipping — let’s just be glad it didn’t take a day longer, shall we? Second Sight, a California-based company aiming to help those with degenerative eye disease by way of technology, has finally seen its flagship product approved for “clinical and commercial use” in Europe. The product is the Argus II, and for all intents and purposes, it’s a retinal prosthesis (read: implant) that can at least partially restore lost vision. It works a little like this: patients don the camera-laden glasses, where signals are grabbed and fed wirelessly to a chip implanted near ones retina. The information is beamed to around 60 electrodes that “stimulate retinal cells, producing light in a patient’s view.” According to Technology Review, “the process works for people with retinitis pigmentosa because the disease damages only the light-sensing photoreceptors, leaving the remaining retinal cells healthy.” For now, the $115,000 device will only be available through a smattering of clinics in Switzerland, France and the UK. If all goes well, it’ll be actively seeking FDA approval next year for use in the US of A, and a version with way more electrodes shouldn’t be too far behind.
It may not have the charm or good looks of, say, the uBOT-5, but a new wearable vital signs monitor could cut back on doctor’s visits for the chronically ill. Produced by a Kansas State University student, the GumPack — known as such for its size — is a multi-sensor monitoring device that fits in the palm of your hand and relays vital stats to your doctor via the internet. Along with a built-in camera and microphone for record keeping, as well as WiFi capabilities for connectivity, the battery-powered GumPack will sport various sensors, like a reflectance pulse oximeter or a two-thumb ECG. The monitor is still in the concept stage, and will likely not be available for mass-market distribution for years — if ever — but with technology like this in the works, the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” lady might as well start looking for a new gig.
West Penn Allegheny Health System creates an emergency responder app, placing your life in far better hands
Creating a health-minded application for those who are unconscious, dead, or creeping awfully close to death might not do much good, but creating a health-minded application for those who care for the near-dead… now that’s a novel concept! The West Penn Allegheny Health System has just churned out the EMS Field Partner app for iPod touch and iPhone, giving emergency medical services (EMS) professionals and other first responders the ability to easily sift through a variety of emergency conditions or complaints — such as chest pain, stroke symptoms or fall injury, etc. — and be directed to the closest WPAHS hospital that is most qualified to treat the patient. It also provides an interface with Google Maps and directions to the System’s hospitals, not to mention “up to the minute traffic information as well.” For more serious encounters, there’s a direct link to West Penn Allegheny’s LifeFlight Command Center, with the built-in location system telling the backend where to send an emergency helicopter. The app’s available for free as we speak, but many of the features (like the chopper request, we’re guessing) will require registration. We know, we know — you had all sorts of crazy ideas.
It’s a nightmare of epic proportions: the finger prick. Anyone who detests ’em completely understands, and they’ll also be supremely appreciative of the work being done by Dr. Karan Kaler and co. at the University of Calgary. Kaler’s team has created a new lab-on-a-chip technology, which uses a wireless microchip to analyze nanolitre-sized samples of blood. That’s far less fluid than is currently needed to run a gauntlet of tests, and this fresh take is also far more efficient. We’re told that it “involves creating a structure called a micro-emulsion, which is a droplet of fluid captured inside a layer of another substance.” From there, the emulsions are positioned precisely on the chip, and after tests are ran, the results are piped wirelessly to a computer. The potential here is far more impressive than the existing iteration; the long-term vision is to “create handheld devices for patients to use at home for testing fluids, such as blood and urine,” which would prevent extensive wait times and enable patients to get vital information faster. There’s no telling how long it’ll take to escape the lab and land in the hands of those who need it, but we’re sure the folks involved are cranking just as hard as they can.