In today's health care system, high tech and high cost often go together, usually in the waning years of life and often in a hospital. The latest technology -- CT and MRI scanners, pacemakers and the like -- usually doesn't reach the patient's bedside until he or she is already ill or injured.
The University of Rochester is out to change that. The University has launched its Center for Future Health, whose mission is to create new, portable technologies for use by people in their own homes to prevent disease before it strikes. A melanoma monitor, an interactive digital assistant, wearable computers, memory glasses -- engineers are already developing these and other devices in collaboration with physicians. The goal is to make technology affordable and easy to use, so that the home, not a hospital or a doctor's office, becomes the location where patients maintain their health.
"We're developing new technology with the goal of shifting the focus of medicine from treating and curing patients, to preventing disease," says Philippe Fauchet, center director. "There are groups left and right developing devices for individual applications, but we're talking about a fundamental change in the health care system. We will create new medical technology, but on a personal scale. It will be technology you can trust and use everyday without being bothered."
The center is conducting about 20 research projects, including several
with the Media Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Most involve taking
a new technology -- pattern recognition, DNA computing, artificial intelligence
software -- and using it as the seed of a low-cost, portable health care device.
Pattern and motion recognition software might be the basis of a "gait monitor"
that would give early warning of a stroke, or of "memory glasses" to remind the
elderly of the names of relatives. Artificial intelligence algorithms are being
studied as the basis of a communicat
Contact: Tom Rickey
University of Rochester