A vision of the future

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When technology and medicine meet, the results can bring countless benefits for millions of people around the world, from patients to doctors, from companies to insurers. Today’s post features two devices, which will soon be making their market debut.

A closer look at our health

Those smart new glasses your colleague is wearing might actually be smarter than you think. VSP Global, a US based non-profit eye care company has come up with a new health wearable that is visionary in every sense of the word.

With frames crafted by designer eyewear maker Dragon Alliance, the new health-tracking glasses contain sensors with similar functions to a wrist-worn fitness tracker, such as monitoring steps taken, calories burned and distance travelled. The glasses can be synced via Bluetooth to an app for real time activity tracking.

Although the glasses will first be tested on VSP Global employees in California, new designs and functions are already in the works. According to Jay Sales, co-lead at VSP’s innovation lab, “ultimately, this is not about just tracking steps and calories. The goal with this project is to build on these initial capabilities and, in the future, provide our members with contextual health data about themselves that they can then use to feel empowered and make better decisions in their lives.”

The reality behind medical innovation

Oculus, a virtual reality technology company well known for enhancing the experience for video gamers, has created a headset that has caught the attention of the medical research community. The headset, available only as a prototype until it goes on the market in 2016, can provide virtual reality simulations for treating a variety of medical conditions.

Jennifer Patterson, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh in the US, tapped into the headsets’ potential for the treatment of soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, using virtual environments similar to those to which they had been exposed, such as desert scenes and Middle Eastern cities.

Virtual reality technology has already proven effective in a range of medical therapies, including glaucoma (balance control) and burn treatment (pain relief). What makes Oculus different is the price tag: where similar devices have cost anywhere from $30,000 to over $300,000, developers have been able to get their hands on Oculus headsets for no more than $400. For the time being, the high cost of simulators has not been without justification: the more expensive models not only offer greater accuracy but also have more flexible mounting options. However, the future looks likely to change this. According to Felipe Medeiros, a professor at the University of California San Diego, “as more and more companies get involved in this, we will keep seeing inexpensive and very accurate systems.”

Sources:

Smith, Thomas (May 15th 2015) VSP develops health-tracking technology for glasses. Cover Magazine. Retrieved from: http://www.covermagazine.co.uk

Abutaleb, Yasmeen (June 10th 2015) Beyond games, Oculus virtual reality headset finds medical uses. Reuters. Retrieved from: http://www.reuters.com

 

 

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