Center For Future Health Aims To Bring High-Tech, Low-Cost Health Care To The Home

t of a collaboration with the MIT Media Laboratory. Some also include colleagues at Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Toronto, and it's likely that other institutions will join as the center grows.

Some of these projects are just beginning, while several are in progress, and creation of a few prototype devices is expected soon. Among the tools in development:

  • "Memory glasses" that a person with early dementia or memory problems might wear which automatically detect certain patterns (loved ones, street signs, grocery items, for example) and then offers audio instructions such as "The person you're looking at is your brother Bill"; "You have bought milk and eggs, but you forgot the bread"; "This is Oak Street; turn left if you want to go home." One goal: Allowing such patients to live independently longer.

  • A "melanoma monitor," a passive system that takes an image of your body, perhaps each week in the bathroom, and compares each image to the last one. When a mole starts growing, you receive an alert to see a doctor, and you bring along a computer printout with details of the mole's size and how it has changed.

  • A "smart bandage" that could quickly identify a tiny amount of bacteria through powerful computing and determine which antibiotics it's resistant to and which could be used to treat the patient, cutting the amount of time necessary between illness and treatment.

  • Convenient monitoring tools, such as a wristwatch-type device that monitors pulse, respiration and temperature constantly. This might be handy after a patient leaves the hospital and is prone to infection (fever), or for an older person who often has difficulty breathing. Such sensors could also be part of a "smart bed" that takes in this information during sleep.

  • A "gait monitor" that would pick up subtle signs of stroke or early signs of diseases like Parkinson's. Oftentimes an impaired gait is the first symptom and goes unnot

Contact: Tom Rickey
University of Rochester

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