Shinya Yamanaka directs Kyoto University’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, and leads a small research lab at the Gladstone Institutes, which is affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco.
In 2001, President George W. Bush issued an executive order banning federal funding for new sources of stem cells developed from preimplantation human embryos. The action stalled research and discouraged scientists.
Five years later, a Kyoto University scientist, Shinya Yamanaka, and his graduate student, Kazutoshi Takahashi, re-energized the field by devising a technique to “reprogram” any adult cell, such as a skin cell, and coax it back to its earliest “pluripotent” stage. From there it can become any type of cell, from a heart muscle cell to a neuron.
The breakthrough sidestepped the embryo controversy, offering researchers an unlimited supply of stem cells. Dr. Yamanaka shared the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for reprogramming mature cells into what are now called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells. Still, the march toward new treatments has been halting.
The Internet of Things is about to transform the way we live and work. And if it reaches its fullest potential, it will fundamentally change every aspect of our lives.
That sort of disruption is evident in the healthcare sector, where the pen and paper has been the primary means of recording patient information for decades. But now, healthcare technology is changing in major ways.
Healthcare applications now let patients schedule their appointments without the need to call a doctor’s office and wait for a receptionist. Healthcare information technology lets doctors carry information with them anywhere they go through apps on their smartphones.
And this increasing connectivity shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, it’s only accelerating.
BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, forecasts that the installed base of healthcare IoT devices (not includingwearable devices such as fitness trackers) will grow from approximately 95 million in 2015 to 646 million in 2020.
In short, more connection means more accessible data and better healthcare for patients. Below, we’ve laid out a roadmap of healthcare’s past, present, and future thanks to the IoT.
The Evolution of Healthcare Technology
Arguably the greatest technological leap forward in the last several decades has been the growth of electronic health records, or EHRs. In 2009, a mere 16% of U.S. hospitals were using an EHR, but that figure soared to approximately 80% in 2013, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. Previously, hospitals had multiple systems that handled different functions, but EHRs roll all of those into a single system.
Then we have portal technology, which lets patients take a more active role in their own health and well being. Portals let users log on to the healthcare provider’s websites to access their medical records, download forms, and prepare for appointments.
Finally, home monitoring systems allow patients and doctors to keep track of an individual’s health when not in the doctor’s office to prevent unnecessary and costly trips to sit down with a physician.
How IoT Will Revolutionize the Healthcare Industry
The Internet of Things is slowly starting to weave into healthcare on both the doctor and patient fronts. Ultrasounds, thermometers, glucose monitors, electrocardiograms, and more are all starting to become connected and letting patients track their health. This is crucial for those situations that require follow-up appointments with doctors.
Multiple hospitals have started to utilize smart beds, which can sense the presence of a patient and automatically adjust itself to the correct angle and pressure to provide proper support without the need for a nurse to intervene.
The IoT could also help transform patient care at home. Sadly, some patients don’t take their medication in appropriate doses or at the correct times. Smart medication dispensers in the home could automatically upload information to the cloud and alert doctors when patients don’t take their medicine. More broadly, this type of technology could let doctors know of any potentially dangerous patient behavior.
Healthcare IoT Companies Leading The Way
Several well-known companies are leading the pack when it comes to the IoT and healthcare. Grand View Research recently released a report on this sector and noted that a handful of key players dominate the industry. These companies are clamoring to gain a major slice of the pie by developing products for specific medical applications, increasing collaborative research and development, and acquiring new startups.
Microsoft, for example, has built its Microsoft Azure cloud platform to facilitate cloud-based delivery of multiple healthcare services. IBM, meanwhile, has announced it would invest approximately $3 billion in the IoT, and undoubtedly some of that money would go toward the healthcare sector.
But dozens of startups are breaking into this space, such as:
Entreda has unveiled the second generation of its cybersecurity risk mitigation platform for healthcare organizations.
Dubbed Unify, the platform is designed to enable: continuous cybersecurity vulnerability assessments of people, processes and technology, including networks, applications and devices used by employees or contractors; real-time, context-based remediation for any instances of non-compliance detected using integrated security applications; and production of HIPAA-compliance reports and real-time notifications, all accessible within a dashboard.
During a period of escalating cyberthreats, healthcare organizations are required to demonstrate compliance with cybersecurity guidelines from HIPAA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights and state regulatory agencies.
“Unify is unique in its ability to automate security and compliance enforcement for healthcare providers,” said Jonathan Gavin, Envi Solutions, a healthcare managed security services company. “It reduces the burden for our clients who would otherwise need to manually check their systems to confirm that HIPAA and OCR regulatory guidelines are properly implemented.”
Leveraging user behavioral data gathered from thousands of active users under management, Entreda has developed decision trees to automate cybersecurity and compliance workflows at scale, the vendor explained. The Unify platform is based on an architecture that combines heuristics-based user behavioral analytics, centralized service policy management, and extensible IT services workflows, the vendor added.
The benefits of this type of architecture include intelligent IT service and compliance automation, enterprise-grade security, a plug-and-play deployment model, anywhere-anytime access, and service extensibility, the company said.
If we’re ever to have things like smart contact lenses and permanent brain implants, one of the things we need to figure out is the power problem. Those devices need energy for collecting, processing and especially transmitting data — but that last one might not be a problem anymore, thanks to a new technique called interscatter communication.
Producing a wireless signal that’s strong enough to be detected five or 10 feet away isn’t that costly energy-wise when you’ve got a big all-day battery you can recharge easily, like in a smartphone.
But for tiny devices, especially those intended for use inside the body, power is a much more serious consideration. Their batteries are tiny and it’s not like you can just pull your pacemaker out and juice it up on your laptop. So anything that reduces power draw is welcome for the next generation of smart embedded devices.
To that end, three graduate students from UW’s electrical engineering program created a technique that eliminates the necessity to produce wireless signals at all. Instead, using interscatter, the device can essentially harvest and re-deploy signals it receives.
It works like this: One device, say an earpiece, transmits a special “single-tone” signal carrying no data, in the Bluetooth frequency. The interscatter device receives this signal and allows it to bounce off its antenna — but not before it has manipulated it ever so slightly, re-encoding the blank signal as a Wi-Fi one. This altered transmission (really a sort of distorted reflection) can be picked up by a phone or laptop just like any other data over Wi-Fi.
Cool, right? And the best part is, because that slight alteration of the received waves is all that requires power, it’s 10,000 times more efficient than producing that Wi-Fi signal itself, and 1,000 times more efficient than Bluetooth.
Savings that huge could open up possibilities for lots of implanted devices, but that’s by no means the only possibility. The team has also built interscatter into some prototype credit cards that recycle signals to communicate with a payment system or each other.
One of the next steps in the project will be to miniaturize the technology further; so far, it’s been built on bulky FPGA boards, but once the design is finalized it could be shrunk down onto an ordinary integrated circuit board. But because the signals are standard, the other devices can be anything, from Apple Watches to Samsung Galaxy phones.
On their quarterly earnings call this morning, self-driving automotive technology company MobileEye announced that Mobileye’s work with Tesla will not extend beyond EyeQ3, the processor currently used in Tesla vehicles to provide the image analysis intelligence that enables Tesla’s driver-assisted autonomous tech
Mobileye CTO Amnon Shashua explained on the call that the company will continue to work with Tesla on improving the performance of EyeQ3 in use in Tesla cars, and suggested that concern around reputation regarding the safety of Mobileye’s tech, which is a clear reference to the fatal Autopilot crash earlier this year, though he didn’t cite the accident directly. He also didn’t expressly state whether Mobileye or Tesla ended the relationship.
Shashua also said that the company believes achieving true autonomy means going “beyond typical supplier relationships,” wherein a client just purchases support and service, and requires a true partnership between car makers and autonomous technology companies like Mobileye.
“EyeQ3 shipments will continue for the near future, and maybe for the longer future,” Shashua explained on the call regarding the discussion. “We simply decided where we wanted to put our resources for the future of autonomous driving… and we decided what we decided.”
An analyst questioned Shashua on the call regarding who initiated the separation, but the CTO declined to offer any additional clarity beyond the original statements, simply reiterating that Mobileye decided not to proceed. Mobileye also said on the call that Tesla’s business is “not material” to its bottom line in terms of a percentage of overall revenue.
The hesitation on clarifying how exactly the relationship ended is interesting given reports that Musk and self-driving solo engineer George Hotz (aka Geohot) exchanged emails about Hotz coming in-house to help Tesla develop its own self-driving supply stack. We’ve reached out to Tesla for additional info on how the Mobileye partnership wound down and will update if they provide more detail.
London and San Francisco-based Big Health pitches itself as a provider of “evidence-based, non-drug” solutions to tackle various mental health disorders, including via the digital delivery of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
The startup’s first product is Sleepio, a digital sleep improvement program that claims to help users overcome poor sleep, and has already deployed to over 750,000 employees at companies including Comcast, LinkedIn, Boston Medical Center, and Henry Ford Health System.
Today Big Health, which is already backed by Index Ventures, is disclosing that it has raised $12 million (£9.15m) in new funding led by Octopus Ventures. Also participating are Kaiser Permanente Ventures, Index, Sean Duffy (CEO, Omada Health), and JamJar Investments (the UK-based investment fund of the innocent drinks founders). Noteworthy is that Esther Dyson, and Peter Read are also previous backers.
We first took an in-depth look into Big Health’s digital health delivery proposition back in 2014, rightly questioning whether or not CBT-related therapy could really be effective without face-to-face consultation. At the time, the startup’s co-founder Peter Hames was adamant that it could, citing early trials of its Sleepio programme.
A few years later and Big Health is presenting more evidence that this is the case, citing what it claims was the first placebo-group randomized controlled trial (RCT) for a digital sleep program that shows Sleepio comparable in effect to in-person CBT, with 76 percent of insomnia sufferers achieving healthy sleep (Espie, 2012).
Meanwhile, more recent studies appears to show Sleepio to be effective in helping anxiety sufferers reduce their symptoms (Pillai, 2015), and demonstrating significant improvements in sleep and productivity for users (Bostock, 2016).
To date, Big Health says there have been 14 published peer-reviewed papers, providing what it claims is the largest evidence base of any digital therapeutic addressing mental health.
Following yesterday’s news of the NHTSA’s investigation into a fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S, Mobileye, the Israeli technology company helping power the carmaker’s Autopilot feature, has sent a statement to TechCrunch regarding the incident.
“We have read the account of what happened in this case,” reads the text attributed to Dan Galves, Mobileye’s Chief Communications Officer. “Today’s collision avoidance technology, or Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) is defined as rear-end collision avoidance, and is designed specifically for that.”
The statement strikes a decidedly different tone than yesterday’s Tesla announcement, which both mourned the loss of the driver (since identified as Ohio-based tech entrepreneur Joshua Brown) and reiterated the company’s safety measures, noting that, “Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert.”
Galves, likewise, explains that the current generation of technology is not equipped to deal with the specific scenario that played out in the May 7th collision, though plans are in place to introduce it eventually. “This incident involved a laterally crossing vehicle, which current-generation AEB systems are not designed to actuate upon,” the statement explains. Mobileye systems will include Lateral Turn Across Path (LTAP) detection capabilities beginning in 2018, and the Euro NCAP safety ratings will include this beginning in 2020.”
The technology, it seems, has not yet been equipped to react to the specific case in which a vehicle turns across a lane. According to Tesla’s account from yesterday, “Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied.”
Mobileye was once again in the news this morning, when it was officially revealed that the company will be working with Intel to help bring BMW’s first fully self-driving car to market by 2021.
The market for augmented and virtual reality technology continues to heat up, and now one of the more promising startups making both AR hardware and software has raised a $50 million round to keep up the pace.
Meta, which makes an AR headset/glasses of the same name, as well as software to run on it, has raised $50 million in a Series B round of funding. The company plans to use the money to continue building out its technology, developing apps, expanding into new markets like China, and working on the next generation of its headset, the Meta 3 — according to a short statement announcing the round. The news comes just ahead of the E3 gaming conference kicking off this week, where we may see yet more AR and VR news emerge.
This latest round includes investments from Horizons Ventures Limited (which led its $23 million Series A round), as well as a list that includes several strategic backers with several specifically out of China: Lenovo, Tencent, Banyan Capital, Comcast Ventures, and GQY.
Meta is not disclosing its valuation, but filing documents provided to us by VC Expertspoints to a valuation of up to $307 million post-money for this latest round (the actual valuation depends on how many of the authorized preferred as well as common shares were issued). The Series B originally started as a $40 million round and then expanded before it closed.
Meta was founded in 2012 and is based out of Redwood City, but also has an R&D operation in Israel, where its founders hail from originally.
Many VR and AR companies tend to focus on the software end of the spectrum, developing content and technology to produce more engaging and realistic (and potentially less nauseating) experiences not just for smartphones and other screens but newer products like the Oculus Rift, Samsung VR and HTC Vive — devices that appear to be taking a lead in this still-nascent market to tap into more immersive games and other consumer media, as well as more practical enterprise applications.
Some of the most interesting of that group of software startups are getting snapped up by companies that want to make a mark in this area.
Meta is taking a different route: a vertically integrated approach in which it is using its own software development (which is heavy on computer vision, machine learning, and AI based on neuroscience) that works on hardware of its own design, which lets you immerse yourself in virtual situations that are embedded in real environments, giving you the ability to manipulate the virtual elements with gestures and other hand movements.
Taking the vertical route a road less travelled, but not entirely unpopulated. In addition to the likes of Facebook-owned Oculus, apparently Magic Leap — which is still in stealth but nonetheless valued at $4.5 billion after its last round — is also building its AR approach end-to-end, and from the ground up.
Interestingly, the investors think that Meta, despite its far more modest fundraising, could give Magic Leap a run for its money.
“In our view, Meta has built a world-class team,” said Bin Yue, Founding Partner of Banyan Capital, in a statement. “Meta is probably the only startup which has the capabilities to compete with giant companies’ projects like Microsoft Hololens and Magic Leap.”
Back when Meta was more of an idea than a publicly available product, I met Meron Gribetz, Meta’s CEO, for a demo of its prototypes and saw that he had an incredibly focused and singular vision of how he wanted to develop the company. The headset they were working on, he said at the time, was something they wanted to be easy enough to use that it could be attainable by the mass market. That was years ago, and so it’s great to see them coming along so far.
“It is incredibly gratifying to have the support of big thinkers and investors who understand the importance of creating a new human-computer interface, anchored in science. Our… investors really get what we’re doing and why Meta is different from the other players in AR,” he said in a statement today. “They understand that the combination of our advanced optical engines along with our neuroscience-based interface design approach are what will create a computing experience that is 100 times easier to use and more powerful than traditional form factors.”
Meta’s funding is a sign of how investors are keen to get in early in what is still far from a mainstream industry, but also a mark of how no one is quite sure which way it will develop.
“Augmented reality represents a transformational platform for communication, collaboration and how individuals will work in the future,” said Michael Yang, Managing Director at Comcast Ventures, in a statement. “Meta’s platform enables a host of new ways to conduct business across a wide array of industries. We look forward to supporting Meta as our first investment in the AR market.”
While several of the investors in this round are based out of China, the GQY involvement in particular will see Meta making some significant inroads to China.
“Through the investment in Meta, GQY is looking to bring the best-in-class Augmented Reality applications to China,” said Jier Yuan, VP, North America, GQY, in a statement. “This goal will be achieved by leveraging Meta’s leading-edge AR hardware, software and GQY’s in-depth knowledge and relationships in industrial training, public transportation and education sectors in China.”
Who needs the sun? Many Silicon Valley startups pride themselves on long, grueling work hours, toiling from the crack of dawn until late into the night. But that work pride has a toll — they likely suffer from a serious lack of vitamin D.
Most U.S. office workers do these days and Nootrobox co-founder Geoff Woo says that’s affecting our brains.
Vitamin D plays an important role in calcium absorption, boosts your immune system and may protect against certain forms of cancer, type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. Without enough of it, you may experience a sort of brain fog and lowered cognitive function.
Startups like Nootrobox, Nootroo and other “smart drug” subscription services started popping up in the last year to help Silicon Valley workers boost brain power. They join a growing cottage industry of products in the biohacking movement, like Bulletproof coffee, smart cocoa and even small doses of psilocybin (hallucinogenic mushrooms) aiming to give those in startup land a performance-enhancing leg up.
Woo and his co-founder Michael Brandt initially released a “stack” of chemically enhanced pills promising to help people wake up, focus and sleep better. The startup pulled in Andreessen Horowitz, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Zynga founder Mark Pincus as investors to help launch the subscription service in 2015. Nootrobox later released “Go Cubes,” chewable coffee cubes, which offer an “evened-out” caffeine kick.
Now Woo wants to add vitamin D (which is actually a hormone, not a vitamin) to boost brain power, too.
Nootrobox is launching KADO-3, a fish oil and krill oil blend with a specifically high ratio of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) to EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) to provide a premium vitamin D designed for cognitive function.
Though recommendations differ on the amount we need in our daily diet, the interest in the vitamin goes all the way to the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama recently convinced the FDA to include vitamin D levels on the new food labels.
But pop in at any local nutrition store and there’s plenty of vitamin D sitting on the shelves. Woo says what’s in those bottles is different from what he’s offering.
“Typical Omega-3 blends have a high ratio of EPA to DHA. EPA is associated with cardiovascular benefits while DHA is associated with brain benefits. Whereas Nootrobox ramps up the ratio of DHA to EPA,” says Woo.
The blend also adds Astaxanthin, a neuroprotective that could help manage the risks of geriatric conditions, and vitamin K2, which also has been shown to benefit both the cardiovascular system and the brain.
Woo also revealed the company plans to eventually create a personalized blend based on someone’s DNA to enhance their overall function and Nootrobox will likely partner with one of the larger genetic testing companies to provide such a product, but he said he is not in talks with anyone and that offering won’t be available anytime soon.
The world is on a quest to create cleaner, quieter airplanes that could replace the fuel-guzzling, roaring commercial aircraft in use today.
NASA is leading much of the research and development effort in this area and today they’ve announced an official name for their next X-plane concept: the X-57 “Maxwell.”
Maxwell is a hybrid electric research plane equipped with 14 electric propeller-turning motors located along the wings. The experimental plane will be put through a number of tests over the next four years in an effort to demonstrate that electrical propulsion can make planes quieter, more efficient, and environmentally friendly.
During take-off and landing, Maxwell will make use of all 14 motors to create sufficient thrust, but once it’s up in the air it will only use the two larger motors located on the tips of the wings.
NASA engineers believe that this unique design will result in a five-time reduction of the energy required for a small, private planes to cruise at 175 mph.
Maxwell is a result of NASA’s “New Aviation Horizons” initiative: a 10-year program to create a new generation of X-planes that will make use of greener energy, use half as much fuel, and be half as loud as commercial aircraft in use today. In the President’s FY 2017 budget, NASA received $790 million to fund New Aviation Horizons among other similar green-aviation initiatives.
An Electrically Powered Future
Electrical airplanes are sure to change the look of aviation, but if humans plan to continue to fly in the future we’ll have to embrace this new era of flight.
According to some reports, the world only contains enough petroleum resources to last us through the year 2100. And as we get closer to that date, fuel prices are likely to rise higher and higher.
Eventually, we’ll need to wean ourselves off of internal combustion engines and the aircraft that use them. To do that, we’ll need to see innovation in aircraft design, battery technology, solar cells and electrically powered engines themselves.
In addition to NASA, companies like Boeing and Airbus, and even other countries have started investing in this future. Planes like the GL-10, Helios, E-Fan, and Solar Impulse have already demonstrated the feasibility of electric planes.
Even Elon Musk has suggested that he has plans to come up with an electrically powered jet. When asked to talk about his “next great idea” Musk responded, “Well I have been thinking about the vertical takeoff and landing electric jet a bit more. I mean, I think I have something that might close. I’m quite tempted to do something about it.”
NASA’s Maxwell is the first X-plane in a decade, but the agency has plans for as many as five more through New Aviation Horizons. The technologies and knowledge gained through this initiative will be passed on to the private sector with the hope that, eventually, electric airplanes will become commonplace and transform flying as we know it.