This year IBM dedicated its Five in Five series (an annual list of five technologies that are likely to advance dramatically) solely to sensors.
Digital sensors of the touch, sight,hearing, taste and smell kind along with their potential are all profiled by IBM Sensor technology is going through a renaissance as companies develop smart and innovative new ways to track data using them.
Sensor innovation is in-part driving the Digital Health Revolution as digital health companies find ingenius ways to integrate them in to apps, devices and other peripherals. The smartphone will play an increasing important role in all of this as they go from having six built-in sensors currently to having sixteen in the next five years.
If these predictions are correct then the next five years will be half-a-decade of sensor proliferation meaning the Digital Health Ecosystem will grow exponentially. In the meantime though there are already a plethora of digital health sensors in use or in the pipeline that are helping people improve and, in some instances, save lives.
The patent wars are continuing as we speak. With the proliferation of cheap sensors people are talking about putting them everything. We use them in our cars to see if the tire pressure is correct and washroom etc.
Rowan Norrie's insight:
Sensors are proliferating in our lives. From the fairly useless (like identifying when our shoes have worn out) to the futuristic Neuroheadset from EPOC, able to read your brain activity and translate it into actions. IT was designed for gaming, but there are huge opportunities in the health field for disabled people, e.g. to control their wheelchairs.
How sensors are having a major impact on innovation and the competitive landscape for the life sciences industry (medical devices, diagnostics and pharma)..
Smartphones, with their portable computing power, built in sensors and always-on internet connectivity are continuing on their path to ubiquity, with over 56% of the US adult population now having smartphones, and over 500,000 new smartphone users being added every month. Sensor technology has continued to get cheaper, smaller and more sophisticated, with different types of sensors being combined to capture an increasing array of physiological measures.These sensors can be connected to smartphones via miniaturized, low energy via low energy wireless technologies such as low energy Bluetooth and Near Field Communication (NFC).
As the world population ages and more
Lightweight, wireless enabled sensor networks connected via smartphones to cloud/server based storage and applications make it feasible to continuously monitor physiological measures. This is enabling “aging in place” for the world’s rapidly aging population, allowing more older adults and individuals with chronic conditions to remain in the home environment while they are remotely monitored for safety.
Early Detection and Prevention
Data from continuous real time monitoring can be analyzed to provide early detection or in some cases prediction of changes in health status. This approach is being applied across a wide variety of conditions, including heart disease, epilepsy, parkinsons disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer.
Extending Therapies from Clinical Settings to the Home
Sensors capturing movement data can be particularly useful for home-based rehabilitation, often leveraging both wearable and ambient sensors to provide augmented feedback.
MedSnap’s Medical App To Improve Medication Safety for Patients
Medication and therapy regimens are only effective if patients adhere to them. Sensors can be applied to monitor adherence and provide inputs to systems designed to improve adherence through alerts, reminders, persuasive design and gamification techniques for patients, caregivers and therapists.
Management of Chronic Conditions
Wearable and ambient sensors can be an important part of an overall system to manage chronic conditions.
The number of wearable physiological sensors connected to smartphones are expected to grow significantly over the next 5 to 10 years. As the healthcare industry faces increasing pressure to improve outcomes while lowering costs, the ability to combine data from these sensors with data from other systems to measure treatment effectiveness will become more important, not just in clinical trials, but in the context of managing population health.
Companies that are proactive in using sensor technology together with other techniques to create and demonstrate superior effectiveness will reap significant rewards in this environment.
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