Featured Post

X marks the spot

There's a slew of news about new tech developments coming out every day. How do you keep track?
Medical devices in use in an Israeli hospital (Photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Medical devices in use in an Israeli hospital (Photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

In the movie industry, the major studios are very careful not to have their blockbusters overlap too much, especially on the summer schedules. A movie’s income could be cut by half simply due to its proximity to a another blockbuster from another company. The advantage for viewers, of spacing movies out, is that they can feel less stressed about getting to see every new movie in the theatres.

In the world of technology, even specifically medical technology, it seems that every day brings multiple announcements that readily overlap. It can sometimes be so overwhelming, that one just raises their hands into the air and admits defeat. I personally am signed up for a whole number of informational websites that send me regular updates, when ever there is news in medical technology. Sometimes, it seems as if my phone will not stop beeping [or making Hulk noises, which is how I set it up] due to the onslaught of news.

I regularly follow Twitter and I personally like the “TweetDeck” interface [I have no connection to the company]. On one of my six screens I have a list of 10 websites that I regularly visit to read about the most up-to-date tech news. There is of course, a great deal of overlap in the stories.  But each Web service manages to find a unique story.

At one point, I tried keeping folders of interesting links. But this was not very effective and had no search capability. I did try a couple of products intended to help with managing data that comes from emails and websites and other services. At the advice of a dear friend, I tried Evernote  [again, no connection to the company]. For myself, Evernote has been a lifesaver.

Since I have started using Evernote, I have very quickly built up a library of references and images and quotations and entire articles, all of which speak to my specific interests. When writing a blog post, I can easily refer back to Evernote to find an article that I had previously read and now want to reference in my post. I would humbly suggest to anyone who reads a great deal online or who manages online data, to consider using Evernote.

But now, back to the topic at hand. Nokia created the Nokia Sensing Xchallenge which is a $2.25 million global competition, intended to accelerate the availability of hardware and software that will improve health and well-being. On the following page, there is a clear and detailed discussion and description of all of the components of this challenge. There is also a clear underlying drive to have any of the developed products be cheap enough so as to be viable in the developing world. While this is clearly a competition intended to develop marketable products which will eventually generate a profit, I still personally see such a competition as a very noble act on the part of Nokia.

The winning technology for the last Nokia competition was a set of devices from the DNA medicine Institute [DMI]. This group has developed a set of devices that can do a variable numbers of blood tests based on a single drop of blood. DMI’s technologies can literally replace entire medical testing labs.

By virtue of needing only a single drop of blood, the days of repeated and painful blood taking could soon be over. In departments like Pediatrics and Oncology, such a device would spare people enormous anxiety and tears.

The types of tests possible, continues to grow. As the technology, for identifying problematic proteins in the blood, improves it will likely soon be possible to identify diseases like cancer while it is still in its earliest stages. The potential is astounding.

What I personally find even more fascinating is that this and other projects that enrolled in the Xchallenge, all did their work for relatively small budgets. At a time when the words “billion” and “trillion” get thrown around on TV news shows, financial analysis columns and during friendly conversations, it seems hard to believe that someone could develop a revolutionary technology for a few million dollars.

There also doesn’t seem to be any lack of drive amongst the kind of people who submit their projects to these competitions. There are many individuals who give wholly of their time and even money, in order to try and realize one of their ideas. While I am sure that a number of these basement-developers dream of being bought out by Microsoft or Apple or Google for billions of dollars, it is not the money that drives these inventors.

These dreamers believe in the challenge. They might not be boarding a spacecraft and traveling in and out of wormholes, but they are explorers nonetheless. And if even one of their travels in the cyberverse yields results, then that validates their entire life’s work.

Many years ago, Apple aired a commercial named “Here’s to the crazy ones“. The commercial is still worth watching, and I personally view it at least once a month. Despite it being a commercial for Apple, it truly is a statement about the power of vision and the possibility for a positive revolution in our lives, sometimes based on the actions and thoughts of a single person. In this day and age, the next Google could very well be growing roots in the mind of a high school student, who has already spent countless hours learning how to code and how to create applications. With each day, there are more and more tools that make it possible for more and more people to manifest their ideas. With over 7 billion people in this world, I think it’s fair to say that we can expect many many more miracles of science in the near future.

Thanks for listening

About the Author
Dr. Nahum Kovalski received his bachelor's of science in computer science and his medical degree in Canada. He came to Israel in 1991 and married his wife of 22 years in 1992. He has 3 amazing children and has lived in Jerusalem since making Aliyah. Dr. Kovalski was with TEREM Emergency Medical Services for 21 years until June of 2014, and is now a private consultant on medicine and technology.
Related Topics
Related Posts