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

iced for months or even years.

  • A "digital assistant" that is as easy to speak with, in plain English, as the "Star Trek computer," which people could turn to with many of their health-care questions. A conversation might be about ear infections, for instance: "I think my son has an ear infection." The computer then converses with the person. "What is his temperature?" "Has he vomited?" The outcome might be: "The last four times your son had these symptoms, it turned out to be nothing. Let him sleep through the night, then check his symptoms again in the morning."

  • A communication aid equipped with artificial-intelligence software that recognizes certain phrases and tones of voice and lets the speaker know, gently and unobtrusively, that his emotion level is rising, and suggests alternate phrases or actions.

  • An array of sensors based on new types of materials under development at the University. Such sensors might be used to detect tiny amounts of bacteria on food, to check whether water is safe to drink, or to check one's breath or sweat for electrolyte levels, monitor breathing, or send an early warning when dehydration is possible.

  • A "rehab trainer," a program that watches one's movements during rehabilitation, then compares them to the way the exercises should really be done and offers advice such as, "You're dropped your shoulder too much" or "Stretch your left leg for 10 seconds, not just five." It's based on the "Tai Chi Trainer" recently developed by the MIT Media Lab.

  • "Smart socks," being developed in collaboration with Sundaresan Jayaraman of Georgia Tech, that automatically detect the amount of pressure within a person's foot and then alert the wearer when an ulcer is imminent. Foot ulcers affect the majority of people with spinal-cord injuries and are a constant threat to people with diabetes.

  • A "Digital Town Center," a high-tech box that will be dropped in rural areas of the United States and Latin America

  • Contact: Tom Rickey
    University of Rochester

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