Health Technology

2014-Predictions-for-Healthcare-Technology
Good health, Bad health. It’s the most vital of all our concerns- so much so that the idea of Health runs throughout our daily interactions via the daily greeting “how are you?”. Expenditure on health care in all developing and developed countries is immense, especially as health technology continues to astonish. The recent 70 billion bid by Pfizer for UK Company Astra Zeneca hints at the inestimable proportions of the commercial health industry. Drugs, treatments, hospitals, nurses, doctors, equipment, the list is endless.

Annual expenditure by the UK government is a cool £ 132 billion-  23.5% of the total  public spending.  It’s a hot topic. That’s why there’s a buzz in the technology word regarding the new wireless charging techniques enabling tiny embedded sensors to be used as a means of preventing the rapidly rising costs of healthcare spiralling upwards in a seemingly unsolvable social whirlpool.

OK so here’s the pitch, you put this minicomputer into your body, it sends info back in real time so you can make sure that the ol’ ticker isn’t about to bow a fuse. Simple? Well not quite, but that’s the idea in brief. When miniaturisation meets wireless the possibilities expand as to the purposes to which this combination can be extended. The Guardian newspapers technology section explains thus:

A breakthrough in wireless technology could allow a new wave of health tracking tools that can be embedded inside our bodies – in our livers, hearts and even in our brains.

A new wireless charging technique known as “mid-field wireless transfer” can deliver power to tiny electronic devices such as sensors, pacemakers and nerve stimulator’s embedded deep within the body. They can be charged using a device the size of a credit card placed outside the body.

“With this method, we can safely transmit power to tiny implants in organs like the heart or brain, well beyond the range of current near-field systems,” said Dr John Ho, co-author of the study that appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.IAP23902

 As if this revelation wasn’t enough – read on for more heart stopping (pun intended) information on the cyber future possibilities ahead, if not for you then almost certainly for you children.

One of the big breakthrough factors here is that devices don’t need to have large batteries or power sources (like a pacemaker) and neither do they have to be near the surface of the skin, they can be implanted more deeply to the places in the body where the vital organs sit and lets face it if it if we are going to have microchips put inside us we want it to be “vital”. Using a new kind of “near field wave” that can reach deeper into the body the devices can be charged by an external source by wireless charging.

“The discovery opens up greater possibilities for medical implants called “electroceutical” devices, which use electrical stimulation to treat illness or alleviate pain that would typically require long term drug treatment. Diseases like Parkinson’s are already treated with techniques like deep brain stimulation to control shaking symptoms”.

These devices will be designed to handle treatments as well as monitoring health.

Good health and bad health. It’s a big business and its about to get bigger. Just how and when the mobile phone companies engage with this deeper level of technology remains to be seen. On the face of it Apple and Google as well as the big names such as Samsung and others are well positioned to add this area of development into their mid term strategies.

Galaxy Glass

comedy galsses1Rumour has it that there may soon be a competitor for the much vaunted – though as yet unreleased- Google Glass . Tech Crunch for example suggest that  “Samsung is currently developing a Google Glass competitor, which is in fact provisionally named “Galaxy Glass,” set for launch in September at the annual IFA tech conference”

The news that Samsung is putting effort into a facially worn gadget with a provisional Galaxy Glass moniker, might re focus Google on getting its product into the mainstream as fast as possible. Fit to market with these innovations can be vital in grabbing the lion’s share of a market.

In some ways its surprising that this is the first rival bid for a spectacle based product. The Google glass concept has been well aired in the media for the past 18 months or more and opinions as to the likely success of the product vary widely.   A revised date for launch to the public is suggested to be in second half of 2014. But since there’s a chance that this could be” the next big thing” then why are there no alternative producers…until now that is. Perhaps the concept is tied up with patents and IP considerations…but in that case how would Samsung be moving into that space, after all they have plenty of experience jousting with their friends from Apple!

Come to think of it where are Apple in the whole Glass space wouldn’t we expect an iGlass product to be out sometime soon? Well nothing from Apple so far but perhaps they are watching the space carefully, seeing how the brave first movers get on and then maybe finessing their way into the space with some variation or other taking their design conscious consumers with them.

First mover advantage can count for a lot in certain markets but in the world of technology the most important factor is to put out a product the works, a product that is useful and one that doesn’t cost the earth. Well that’s all supposition…Meanwhile Google Glass is a well understood concept if not yet a mass worn product and Samsung are beginning the climb to market with a product which they might expect to be able to benefit from the phenomenal success of their mobile phone business which has grown stronger over recent years. One way or another the “Glass” is more than half full.

Smart Phones Rule the World.

smartphoneSmart Phones rule the World. Or at least they do in the world of mobile telecommunications. Smart Phones sales in  2012 outnumbered sales of the alternative Feature phones for the first time . For some observers it’s surprising that it took so long! These days the ability to personalize this most personal of items gives the mobile phone a social and economic significance beyond merely a means of communication. In decades to come the current explosion of social networking sites, together with communications on the move will be seen as a key period of transition from desktop communication  to  pocket and mobile communication. The picture is however complicated because there remain many areas of the globe which do not have the appropriate levels of infrastructure which are needed to support the data rich services enjoyed by Smart Phone users. In these developing regions the feature phone remains dominant and extremely important aspect of the communications network.

dumbphone

Indeed as is increasingly touted, the mobile phone is now more accurately described as a pocket computer that just happens to have a phone built in. The computing capability of these Smart Phones has increased at such a fast rate that the expectation for a mobile phone to achieve ever more complex and high quality functions has hardly shown signs of slowing. Apps enable personal fine tuning of the device and crate enormous revenues for the app platforms as well as for the developers. Its almost a perfect synergy between manufacturer, developer and consumer need.

With this in mind its not surprise that Smart Phones finally hold the bigger slice of the mobile phone market across the globe. Of all phones purchased throughout 2012, 51.6% were Smart Phones.  According to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly mobile Phone Tracker the total sales for all phones shipped during the first quarter of 2013 has reached 418.6 million phones. So annually just shy of 2 billion mobile phones were shipped in 2012 and a billion of these were Smart Phones.

Amongst the big hitters in the Smart Phone world the competition is fierce as each strives for increased market share. So far this has helped bring us fantastic styling, great features and an increasingly robust range of devices. Samsung, Apple, HTC, Nokia to name but a few are already household names in the West and making increasing inroads into the relatively new but rapidly emerging markets in the rest of the world. There’s a long way to go before certain developing nations are able to benefit from the data rich services carried by Smart Phones and until networks are strengthened throughout these economies the Feature phone will retain its place as an important communications tool.

Google App Store resists Low Quality Apps

Google App Store resists Low Quality Apps.  App Developers UK have long recognized that Apps produced for the Android market were considered less problematic at submissions phase than their counterpart on the Apple app store.

Google App Store resists Low Quality Apps

Google Get Picky

But things are changing. In February alone 60 thousand apps were removed from the Android marketplace. The majority were removed by Google. If you multiply that figure by 6 months, that would cut in half the whole of the published Google app number (700,000 according to Google themselves).

Now there’s no reason to think that this would happen but it does indicate the new approach to quality and the potential for Google to shift the emphasis to quality over quantity.Instead of reviewing applications ahead of publication one-by-one with an army of reviewers as Apple does, Google takes the opposite approach and scans its app store after the apps have gone live.

Google has been retrospectively removing poor, spammy or non-compliant apps from its store. This quality focussed approach makes sense in light of the rumoured re launch of the Google play store. Big hitting handsets like the Samsung and HTC device ranges have stimulated the Android app market and a quality over quantity approach indicates a maturing in the sector. Apple once again must raise its game to make sure that its position as primary app delivery platform is not wrenched from its 5 year long grasp.

Unlike Apple who have an army of humans checking apps prior to publishing them, Google relies on an automated approach looking at apps after release. The automated method uses algorithms to search out the apps which appear to breach its terms of publishing, especially spam or malware type apps. The improvements to that automated system are now being used to track poor apps and ones with dubious content.

Apple v Android Smartphone battle – no sign of let up.

screen-shot-2013-04-05-at-8-13-29-am - CopyApple v Android Smartphone battle – no sign of let up. Just as we all thought  that Android had crept up and stolen the number 1 spot from Apple with giants such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 ploughing through the dazzling array of handset choices, we have  new statistics showing that Apple are holding their position. In fact, figures from ComScore MobiLens show that between November 2012 and February 2013 Apple has increased its share of the smartphone market in the USA from 35% to 40%. Moreover in the same time period Android has lost a few percentage points slipping from a mighty 53.7% to 51.7%. Ok so it’s a small shift rather than a seismic movement but it’s significant because all the signals had been that Android was stealing a march on the Apple pie. (Ahem…).

The next few months will be critical to see whether this surprising turn of numbers continues. Both Google and Android have got some big hitting releases coming up which will presumably lead to increased handset sales on the Android side of the equation and As ever the next iPhone is already anticipated with the usual degree of whispered expectations for great things.

The lack of a third big hitting platform in the smartphone arena has led to a duopoly and there’s no end to this in sight. But in the mobile world nothing is certain and a single game changing move by Windows could lead to a serious challenge to the status quo.