Technology

Genome Goes to CES 2017

By Lena Huang

Amid all the robots, drones, and self-driving cars that made a splash at CES this year, many new and improved technologies were debuted that will personalize health care and empower patients.

And while I have to admit the “Laundroid,” a robot that washes, dries, and folds laundry, made my heart flutter, I was even more amazed at the myriad and diversity of medical technologies that are emerging to help us live better and to aid doctors in diagnosing and treating patients more accurately.

Wearables were all over CES and are being created in different shapes and forms, from Fossil’s fashionable hybrid smart watches to Motiv’s fitness tracker ring. Other companies, such as Polar, are making workout clothing that captures heart rate and motion. Hearables, in-ear sensors that measure body temperature, heart rate, and more, were also presented at CES, and many speakers at the event said this is a category that will take off soon.

Another sensor, TempTraq, helps parents of sick children by recording and transmitting body temperature for 24 hours to a mobile device. A thin, flexible patch is placed under the arm of the sick child and has a range of about 40 feet, allowing parents to monitor the child without waking him or her up. TempTraq is available in several retail pharmacies.

Healthimation, a company that bills itself as the first animation studio for health care, is creating a companion app to Why WAIT, a program that helps overweight and obese patients with diabetes lose weight and maintain weight loss. At CES, the company debuted its avatar, named Lena (great name choice!), who will create schedules for eating and exercising, reward accomplishments, and link to health coaches, users, and friends. The program is free and is in beta. For more information, go to healthimation.com.

Several new technologies are attempting to tackle the opioid epidemic in our country. Pear Therapeutics is vying for the first FDA approval of a digital health app with re-SET-O, a mobile medication app used in conjunction with outpatient therapy to treat substance abuse. Titan and Braeburn Pharmaceuticals received FDA approval last year for an implant that delivers buprenorphine (a drug treatment for opioid dependence) continuously for six months, providing an alternative for those who forget to take their medications. And Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is utilizing AppliedVR’s virtual reality to treat pain in patients with a variety of medical conditions. (Stay tuned for our summer issue. We’ll be covering how technology is helping treat opioid addiction in more detail.)

Philips, Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, launched the first remote intensive care monitoring program. Utilizing Philips technology, the intensive care team in Atlanta, during daytime hours, provides nighttime monitoring of patients in Sydney, and vice versa. This enables the critical care teams to not have to work long night hours. An initial study of the program resulted in shorter ICU stays.

These technologies represent only the tip of the iceberg in new health technology. One CES speaker discussed the concept of ambient health, a world with sensors around us that send information and monitor us, even though we can’t see them. That doesn’t seem so far away. We already have vocal computing (like Alexa and Siri), smart home technologies, and wearables that can monitor and send information. And with the advent of 5G, large amounts of data will be able to move even faster.

Another speaker said we are only at the beginning of truly personalizing medicine. I agree, and I am looking forward to all the possibilities. Okay, and I wouldn’t mind having a Laundroid around either.

For more information about CES, check out their website at ces.tech.