Looking Beyond The Horizon

Innovative Technologies & Services

Archive for March, 2007

Interactive Telemedicine – What are the prospects?

Posted by evolvingwheel on March 23, 2007

Alejandro Fanjul Fernández, a student at a Spanish university, has designed a method to monitor medication and care for patients and elderly through conventional television. His system uses a digital card that works with a proprietary service capable of transmitting data and interactive controls between a medical service provider and a patient.

May be the idea doesn’t sound that revolutionary on the first pass. But if one digs a little deeper, one will find the positive influence this service could offer to the entire medical community. Think about this – you don’t have to carry a large system with you when you are traveling. As long as you are within the network, you just move around with a digital card that will tie you up with the system through any television set.

A speedy commercialization of this application will help to exploit the benefits sooner. Sometimes in US too many legislations and government red-tapes prevent a system to go live, and the inventor/implementer has to wait ages before the innovation flies commercially. Spanish market might not be that difficult. Again, the inventor is planning to tie up the service with wireless device and preferably cell phone. EU already has a solid wireless data network. This system appears ideal to be launched over miniature wireless devices. What do you think?

[Read the news]

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Posted in Communication, Innovation, Medicine | Leave a Comment »

Your Pager Beeps – PULL OVER: YOU WILL HAVE A SEIZURE IN 5 MINS

Posted by evolvingwheel on March 16, 2007

I couldn’t help being excited about the option – an invaluable opportunity to save lives and prevent collateral damages. You should check out this [article] in TechReview. John Guttag, head of the Dept. of Electrical Eng. and Computer Sc. at MIT, along with a student is in the process of developing an early warning system for seizures and other health risks by analyzing real time medical data from the body. The details of the development can be found in the text. I will talk a little bit about possibilities and risks associated with the commercialization of such detectors.

The system analyzes real time medical data from the body and feeds it to a highly sophisticated algorithm that processes the pattern. The tool is fed with several patterns that result to death or near severe outcomes. The system then matches the current diagnostics with possible red-alert patterns and tries to beep you about a highly probable circumstance. The idea in practice is noble. However, there are several factors that need to be considered.

In industrial early warning systems, data mostly respond to mechanical outcomes that are predominantly governed by linear factor based rules. Even in polynomial representations, the changes in conditions correspond to a graphical pattern that consistently extends to a proven outcome. However, in human body, the response is dependent on individual human factors and unique physical conditions. If the tool records thousands of graphs and tries to match it with a sudden peak in sugar level or a clot in Mr. X, it may not necessarily lead to the same outcome. Again, on the contrary, the large sampling data and high probability of an event might correlate and the outcome could still be matched. The thin line separating a success from a failure should be considered diligently.

Next, the opportunity for computation is enormous. If there is a service running supercomputers and analyzing data and sends the result securely to the attached device right on time, it could save so many so much. But, would the services be privately available? Who will control the quality control for highly sensitive medical diagnosis? How will a consumer choose a service? Who will validate the consistency?

Well, I hope we have answers to all these issues soon and see such a product in the market!

Posted in Computation, Innovation, Medicine | Leave a Comment »

Lighting Up Bacteria

Posted by evolvingwheel on March 12, 2007

Scientists from the University of Sheffield have designed an innovative sensor that helps to indicate presence of bacteria by giving out a fluorescent signal. The researchers will be able to detect early stage bacterial contamination by using a polymer that will give out visible signal in presence of the pathogen. The technology has serious implications in the healthcare industry, where it often takes more than days to culture bacteria. The new method appears to hold promise in delivering an easy, manageable, and fast way to detect bacteria in wounds. Read the detail [here].

Posted in Innovation, Medicine, micron | Leave a Comment »

Thermoelectric Organic Compund – Beyond just renewable energy

Posted by evolvingwheel on March 9, 2007

This one caught my attention for the properties of the organic molecule – create voltage when heated. The substance doesn’t conduct heat but rather electrons across itself. A very strong candidate for thermoelectricity.

Researchers at UC Berkeley successfully conducted experiments to prove that the molecule indeed generates voltage when exposed to heat. You may read more details about the substance and its properties from the link here. I am more interested in its commercial applications and business investments associated with it.

A lot of energy is lost in the form of heat when we derive power from coal, nuclear reactions, etc. These organic molecules can be stacked across heat exhaust devices generating electricity off the exhaust plume. How noble. However, the current challenge with them is the efficiency. That needs to be enhanced by altering the structure of the molecule. However, abundance and affordability make the research worthwhile. May be they could even try to dope this molecule with some other organic substrate and try to observe any change in efficiency.

This is a great consideration for investment analysis – over abundance, cheap versus low efficiency. Should you follow the track for more research or just try to commercialize a draft version and try to get the industry evolve it with changing applications, implementations, and adjustments around it? Another technical goal is to layer the organic molecules between metal sheets to make them thermoelectric. If this could be achieved in a cheap way commercially, the business prospects look promising.

Posted in Energy, Environment, fuel, Innovation, micron, nanotechnology | Leave a Comment »

How about getting sprayed and then tracked! – Hitachi’s Mu RFID Chip

Posted by evolvingwheel on March 8, 2007

Hitachi recently unraveled a RFID chip which is comparable to the thickness of human hair. This clandestine micro object can literally be embedded in thousands of objects and information on it can be traced by regular RFID readers. The RFID chip even has an in-built antenna. What else do you need to invade invisibly to everyday usage of human beings? 😉

Where will they be embedded? Well.. you can guess very well – any paper or film type objects or on any skin layers. Tickets, bills, cash, food products.. just name it. When this product reaches the market and gets commercialized, how will the dusty tracers be embedded, distributed, and utilized to track information on the move? One place I see them could be tracking slips for mailing and shipments. Spray-em and read-em! Healthcare could be one other potential candidate.

Japan Powder Chip

[Read Article]

Posted in Communication, Innovation, micron | Leave a Comment »

Bye Bye Landfills? – A YES from Joseph Longo

Posted by evolvingwheel on March 2, 2007

What could be a better option than getting rid of landfills in large cities, cutting down the costs of hauling garbage to remote areas, and making fuel out of garbage disposal? Joseph Longo of Startech at Bristol, Connecticut says ‘NONE’! Longo’s plasma converter voraciously engulfs garbage of different scales and volumes with an initial electric pulse comparable to one of a police stun gun. The plasma is generated by a 650 volt current passing between electrodes. The resulting plasma arc is so intense that it disintegrates everything in it to its constituent elements by ripping of the molecular bonds. Output – synthetic gas and marketable fuels.

While I was reading the popular science article, I got excited thinking about the implications of this technology. Each of these plasma furnaces cost nearly $250 million. However, Longo shows the statistics where cost savings from landfills, dumping, and processing along with the fuel generation as a back-feed will turn the system into a profit within 10 years. 

The case study shows something more than the technology and prospects of innovation. It shows how cost of operations, natural resources, and human habits and consciousness make a business proposition lucrative over time. 10-15 years back, hauling trash to a landfill didn’t appear to be a very costly affair. However, today things have changed. The same business possibility today sounds like a gem! When start-ups develop a product, they may consider a time-path evolution of the utilization of the product and its multitude of facets. If they can draw a curve that satisfies the changes by adapting with the natural conditions and market demands, then the burnout may not appear too corrosive and harsh. Today, Longo is talking with governments and businesses from Asia, Latin America, and Europe. A tremendous growth in population along with consumption makes his invention a must-win!

[Read Article]

Picture: Courtesy StarTech Environmental Corp.

Posted in Energy, Environment, fuel, Innovation, investment | 4 Comments »