Microsoft, Digital Health Summit Laud Body Sensors, Bionic Hands

By Brian T. Horowitz  |  Posted 2011-01-18

Microsoft, Digital Health Summit Laud Body Sensors, Bionic Hands

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a Digital Health Summit event highlighted some innovative "game changers" poised to change elder care, implants and medication management.

Organizing the Jan. 7 Digital Health Summit were Jill Gilbert, a product strategist and co-founder of elder care resource Gilbert Guide, as well as veteran technology editor Robin Raskin, who founded Living in Digital Times, a firm that produced many events at CES, including Last Gadget Standing and the Fitness Tech Summit. Linda Nessim-Rubin, a partner in Living in Digital Times, also headed up the event.

Amid the bright lights and hoopla at CES every year, Gilbert brought in Microsoft as a leader in the technology space to help introduce the innovations in digital health.

"We realized that there's some sense of 'flashiness' to our show, and yet I had a huge responsibility to make sure that it maintained health respectability within the industry," Gilbert told eWEEK. "So it made sense to have Microsoft partner with us and also make sure these technologies were in the room."

Randy Fusco, Microsoft's chief technology officer for Health & Life Sciences for Providers, moderated the health care "game changers" session.

"New technology advancements, including cloud computing, personal health devices, touch-screen consumer electronics and those highlighted here today are all poised to dramatically change the HIT landscape in 2011 and beyond," Fusco said in a statement.

Gilbert discussed with eWEEK some of this year's game-changing technologies in digital health, several of which were geared toward helping groups such as the elderly stay safe at home and improving quality of life.


Healthsense is a company focused on technology for the aging. It offers a secure standards-based WiFi platform called eNeighbor for responding to a family member's personal emergencies and tracking a person's activities. It can be used in the home or in a health care facility.

WiFi pendants, pull cords and call buttons alert nurses in the event of an emergency. Meanwhile, the Healthsense Web portal allows health professionals or caregivers to access patient information, protected by 128-bit SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption.

The portal supports text-to-speech functionality and allows caregivers to create patient reports and compile data on call pendant usage and response times. They can also configure reminders to check on the patient.

"It not only helps caregivers track activities of daily living, but also monitor safety," Gilbert said. "It's a great development in aging and place technology."

Microsoft, Digital Health Summit Laud Body Sensors, Bionic Hands

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A maker of wireless diagnostic body sensors, PhiloMetron demonstrated its Calorie Monitoring Patch, resembling a flat saucer of foam, at the Digital Health Summit.

"The first incarnation of this body sensor is going to deal with one of the country's biggest issues, which is obesity," Gilbert said.

Although details were scarce on PhiloMetron's Website, the device, made of sensors, electrodes and accelerometers, sends your calorie data by Bluetooth to your smartphone, where the company's mobile app compiles the data and makes health recommendations, Technology Review has reported.

With heart sensors similar to this wireless calorie monitor now on the market, Gilbert expects to see expansion in this category.

Proteus Biomedical

It may seem more like the year 3011 rather than even 2011 when a company embeds sensors the size of a grain of sand inside pills, but that's exactly what Proteus Biomedical does.

The so-called smart pill could be on the market within two years, reports AOL Health.

The pill incorporates ingestible event markers powered by the fluids in your stomach. After ingestion, the pill could send a notification to your cell phone from inside your stomach to document when the pill was taken-something that's an opportunity for many people to lie about, according to Gilbert. "There's no lying in this, there's no way to trick anyone-it's just an unbelievable development in health," Gilbert said.

"If anything takes the challenge of medication management away, this was one of them," she added.


This company makes robotic limbs that are more lifelike than other robotic-looking prosthetics, Gilbert noted.

RSLSteeper's Bebionic prosthetic limbs use myoelectric technology to generate electricity from muscle fibers. A cosmetic, high-definition cover fits over the limb to make it appear lifelike, according to the firm.

In addition, RSLSteeper's Bebalance software allows clinicians to customize the prosthetic device, including the robotic hand's grip speed and range.

The limbs are also more responsive to muscle movements than similar products, according to Gilbert.

"They have smarter software and are utilizing wireless technology to make it a better experience for those people who have to use these types of prosthetics," she said. "They're doing amazing things, and it's being utilized now."


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