Looking Beyond The Horizon

Innovative Technologies & Services

Archive for September, 2007

Visual Medication Schedule – a noteworthy innovation in drug delivery

Posted by evolvingwheel on September 28, 2007

In healthcare business, innovation should come not only in drug development but also in the process of drug delivery. We often find that prescribed medications fail to penetrate the daily schedule of vulnerable patients and increase the risk of affliction and further damage – both physically and economically. Disease intervention is enhanced when drugs are taken regularly as prescribed. Often old, illiterate, or foreign speaking patients miss their schedule due to the complicated nature of the prescription texts. A research team from UCSF approached the problem and came up with a visual medication schedule (VMS) with translations in native language. Result: Treatment response status increased twice as fast. You may read the article [here]. pharmacy.jpg

Some of the benefits of VMS could be realized in the following areas:

  1. In immigrant communities VMS drug prescriptions can be used to improve the intake and understanding
  2. In developing societies challenged by illiteracy and lack of communication between the patient and physician/clinician, VMS can help the patient to understand the prescription better – can increase adherence
  3. Online prescription industry can benefit by VMS, where there is a lack of communication between the patient and the interface

Better adherence and understanding of the treatment schedule by the patient will help to prevent recurrence of debilitating conditions and any sudden attack. This will save insurance companies money by preventing the patient from going back to the physician or emergency care even after a correct diagnosis earlier. 

If you can’t open the link, the actual post can be found below.

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Online click-n-pick – how the ecosystem changes?

Posted by evolvingwheel on September 26, 2007

I noticed this post in NYTimes tech section while browsing through some regular technology news. I generally try to stay with hardware related articles, but this post suddenly tickled my hibernating brain (for last 1 week!). I could find some elements in there, highlighted distinctly in the MIT Sloan article on innovation [posted on Sep 19]. The NY article presented a relatively young online business pattern where e-customers can order online and then pick up their merchandise from a nearby brick-n-mortar retail store. Walmart has successfully implemented their Site to Store program that astonishingly reached high sales volume over a short period of time. You can find the detail [here]. ExpertRating - Online Certification and Employment Testing

I would like to talk a bit about the process innovation attached with this movement and how the ecosystem adapts and extends to a new shopping behavior. Nowadays, Best Buy, Circuit City, Staples and several other retailers have adopted this new model where people wouldn’t like to wait for the shipping time or pay the shipping cost for a product with comparable price in a retail site. On the other hand, the retail shelves do not have the vast online selection and often cannot support the inventory from the standpoint of storage and other logistic problems. However, this ‘click and pick’ trend just displays a business cycle and a ecosystem dependence that alters amazingly.

  1. Let’s talk about shipping. When online business boomed years back, the logistic and delivery companies such as UPS and FEDEX observed a multi fold growth in their revenue. Small to mid ticket shipping became a household norm and the whole delivery dynamic exploded. Now, if click and pick catches up big time and the big giants push it vigorously, there will be a distinct adjustment in the logistic business to accommodate any drop in the projected revenue. An ecosystem adjustment!
  2. Inventory control will be a whole new ballgame. Since storage is often a big issue, replenishing the storage with ordered merchandise (online) will be a challenge. New workflows and logistic ideas will germinate to move the inventory dynamically or adjust the inventory based on forecast analytics.
  3. Will corporate warehouse be de-centralized? Be built at strategic locations?

These are just some of the implications that came to my mind. May be there will be more in the process chain as business comes of age around this concept. The ecosystem dependencies will also bear on any strategic e-commerce plans or tactical implementations. Ideas?

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A New Dimension in INKJET Printing

Posted by evolvingwheel on September 21, 2007

I am fanatically inclined towards technologies or scientific ideas that try to change an existing concept from inside out. Even thought it might not sound that revolutionary, but the change in the way of thinking through a process is remarkably reflected in the development of nanoscale inkjet printing. John Rogers, a professor of engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, has come up with a concept of inkjet printing that is capable of printing dots of materials just 250 nanometers in diameter. The possible applications of this technology will be in nanomaterial printing for plastic electronics and biomedical sensors. Recently, revolutionary developments are taking place in the nanomaterial domain. Any mass scale printing ability for these nano small compounds on films, ceramic sheets, and plastics will positively be a market winner.

The coolest part of this invention is the way the small droplets are extracted from the nozzle and laid out on the terget substrate. In regular inkjet printers, droplets of the order of micrometers are either pushed out by pressure or by heat from the nozzle. However, in nanoscale engineering, static forces and hydrodynamics of fluids come into play and distort the accuracy of printing. The inventors replaced the concept of PUSH with PULL. An electric field from the bottom (substrate) generates enough force to draw the fluid from the nozzle and make a cone tip. This helps to steer the material towards the exact target spot – a great innovation.

The developers are now working on enhancing the speed of printing. With perseverance and further engineering manipulations, this process can reach industry level efficiency in the near future. Could this be a replacement for the silicon fabrication technology in the coming future?

Read the [article] here.

Click [here] for John Rogers nanoresearch.

Picture Courtesy: UIUC

Posted in hardware, Innovation, materials, nanotechnology | Leave a Comment »

MIT Sloan article on innovation – wanted to pass along

Posted by evolvingwheel on September 19, 2007

MIT Sloan Managament Review presented this article on the approach of innovation. An articulate and a thought provoking review on successful ways of winning the market – changing the paradigm. Wanted to pass it along. Please post comments and opinions.

Read the [article] here.

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Nanoparticle vaccine – Cost effective innovation for public healthcare

Posted by evolvingwheel on September 17, 2007

This article grabbed my attention just from its shear innovative outlook and the potential to implement in developing landscapes of impoverished communities. In my earlier post, we could see the impetus of technological innovations being driven by the needs of underdeveloped populace. This article is an ideal reflection of that drive.

Researchers at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, have developed and patented a nanoparticle that can deliver vaccines more effectively, with fewer side effects, and at a fraction of the cost of current vaccine technologies. The most overwhelming aspect of their invention is a technology that mimics some features of bacterial cells. Taking the advantage of the minuscule size of the carrier (nano agent), the researchers were able to simulate a movement of the dose through the skin matrix all the way to the lymph nodes – a high concentration area of dendritic cells (DC). The other innovative contribution is a chemical coating that mimics a bacterial cell, enough to trigger a response from these DCs.

A cost of $1 a dosage, an ability to maintain the agent in a liquid at room temperature, and easy transportability make the vaccine a great candidate for public health services in developing areas with harsh environmental factors and logistical limitations.

Read the full [article] here.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Building technology for the poor

Posted by evolvingwheel on September 13, 2007

Some students, engineers, and professors from MIT have embarked on a path to bring innovative products to the poor of the world – people living on less than $1 a day. Most of the technological innovations of today are catered toward the rich and wealthy, people who can buy cool cell phones, watch large plasma TVs, and can afford to drive the fastest luxurious cars. That is definitely not going to stop. But what is changing is the perspective. Some of the coolest brains in the field of engineering and tech have congregated to collaborate and develop solutions that could serve the needs of women in sub-Saharan Africa and the kids of rural South Asia.

The outcome of this movement – enough electricity from cow manure to power a flash light, a backpack to hold water, and a drip irrigation system that can grow with the increasing income of the farmer. The biggest takeaway from this movement is the conception and realization of an idea that cheap technological breakthroughs can elevate the lives of people in impoverished communities, which in turn will enable them to be more productive and hence uplift their societies and lifestyles. Read the [article here].

However, there will always be a challenge to sustain this realization due to a lack of solid investor return. Will these inventions and cost of their delivery and implementation always depend on charity, endowments, and government sponsorships? How can a private investment and recuperation model be developed? What process can bring a decent amount of capital to the movement and over a relatively modest timeframe provide profit and/or cost savings both to the community and the government. Currently, poverty and the means to eradicate that poverty burden poor governments considerably. If some degree of commercial profitability could be attached to the innovations directed towards the poor people, then it will relax the burden on governments and enable them to focus more on the organized implementation of these technologies.

Posted in Environment, Innovation, investment, poverty | Leave a Comment »

Smart robots to help humans

Posted by evolvingwheel on September 12, 2007

Consider this – your grandfather, 80+, lives alone. He gets up in the early morning for his first dose of pills. However, his frail knees prevent him from getting off the bed right away and walk to the bathroom cabinet… he has forgotten to keep the pills by bedside last night. How does he get help? Well, he has a smart robot called Zen at home. As he calls Zen and asks it to get the pills, Zen follows the command, rolls to the bathroom, opens the cabinet, grabs the right bottle, and brings it back to your grandfather.

Intelligent robots are being designed that will soon find their way to our homes. If not in the immediate future, definitely in the distant future, and if I am luckily wrong, then may be within next 5-10 years. Researchers in Japan, which is considered the powerhouse of industrial robots, are vehemently trying to bring such smart robots that would be able to perform several daily chores in absence of human labor. Scientists are eying the possibility of helping a growing elderly population with these smart robots. You may read the full [article here].

As I was mentioning before in my Boeing Dreamliner post, there are all different kinds of sensors being manufactured that are capable of providing realtime knowledge of our surrounding environment – from ambient light intensity to odor and from heat to vibration. Smart algorithms coupled with these sensors in robots can make these objects more intelligent. They could be reactive decision makers on the basis of the surroundings and the requirement logic. These robots will then find their way not only as workers for doing daily household activities but also for commercial purposes. 

Posted in artificial intelligence, Innovation, robotics, robots | Leave a Comment »

A smarter turbulence detection system for the airlines

Posted by evolvingwheel on September 11, 2007

It was Aug, 2001. I took the first flight from Chicago to Columbus on a cloudy morning. 30 minutes into the flight, and the plane started bumping all over as we flew through the layers of dark clouds. Lightning sparked around us as the pilot tried his best to dodge the turbulence. Several of the passengers became nauseated. The ordeal lasted for nearly 30 minutes.

Well, the uncertainty and the pain associated with air-travel turbulence may be coming to an end. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has partnered with United Airlines to test the efficacy of a turbulence detection system that alerts pilots to patches of rough air as they fly through clouds.

The new system uses a mathematical method developed by NCAR scientists, known as the NEXRAD Turbulence Detection Algorithm, or NTDA, to analyze data obtained from the National Weather Service’s network of Next-Generation (NEXRAD) Doppler radars. The resulting real-time snapshot of turbulence can be transmitted to pilots in the cockpit and made available to airline meteorologists and dispatchers via a Web-based display. Clear air turbulence

The algorithm analyzing the data from the Doppler radars is a great leap forward. It has always been difficult to pinpoint turbulence foci in different vertical and lateral cross sections of clouds. The new algorithm analyzes the radar data and is able to create a three-dimensional picture of turbulent patches. If tested properly and launched successfully commercially, it could benefit the airlines industry by saving damage repair costs, injury claims, and fuel costs. The early detection system will be a boon for the ATC and the pilots too.

Read the [article] here.

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