19th ISfTeH International Conference – 5th Carrefour de la Telesante

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/logo_catel-ISfTeH.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]16 – 17 October 2014. Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, Paris

The annual fall “Telesante” meeting’s theme this year is “Towards an international eHealth?” Sessions will center on success stories of eHealth applications, connected tools and services, methodologies, eHealth and economic development, and legal/regulatory frameworks. Organized by CATEL, the French Network for eHealth providers, and the ISfTeH, the International Society for Telemedicine and eHealth. Website and registration

Also: July ISfTeH newsletter Hat tip to Malcolm Fisk, CoDirector of Age Research Centre, Coventry University

Perhaps the cutest robot to date

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/20140715211029-Read_Important_Messages.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]Responsive and fitting into the home for multiple ages works. Cute makes it a ‘want to buy’. JIBO may not be the first operative ‘family robot’ (the EU/UK MOBISERVE/Kompaï companion robot [TTA 23 Aug 2013] likely was), it’s not child-sized like the ‘Robot’ of ‘Robot and Frank’ nor the mini-me of ‘Jimmy the Humanoid Robot’, but it’s got the Cute Factor in abundance. It’s a robot designed along the lines of ‘social robotics’ that doesn’t try to look humanoid. It stands at a non-threatening 12 inches high, suitable for tables or desktop. It’s white topped by a large orb serving as a screen that plays videos, reminders and teleconferences. It also speaks. But the big difference is that it responds to touch–dramatically. JIBO moves like a dancer and its ‘face’ follows you. Its response is framed in a companionate way and it’s not a toy–it also does practical things like deliver messages and two-way conversation. It’s easy to think of this not only as a natural companion and connector for various ages in a home, but also where someone lives alone.  The development team headed by Dr. Cynthia Breazeal is delivering this at an attractive price point–$499 for a December 2015 delivery. It’s flown past its $100,000 Indiegogo goal (currently past $500,000) which is a gauge of its appeal. Can you, our Reader, imagine this in your home? Glowing article in Mashable, YouTube video), an grumpy review in Time (which maintains that wearables and smartphones are far more practical. No, it’s not The Gimlet Eye freelancing!)

MIT’s ‘FingerReader’ to aid sight-impaired in reading

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/finger_reader_mit.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]MIT Media Lab is developing a chunky plastic ring that in concept and early stage prototype, assists the sight-impaired in reading normal 12 pt. text in a book, magazine or on screen. The ring is worn on the hand (resembles a collar) and the reader points their finger along the line to be read. The camera embedded in the ring scans line by line and ‘speaks’ through speakers on a PC or tablet connected to the ring. If the finger strays too far from a line, there is a dial-tone like feedback sound. It is different than the conceptually similar Reading Pen as being more strongly in real time and reading faster–whole lines rather than word by word. While primarily for the blind and low vision, one of the MIT developers, Roy Shilkrot, a doctoral candidate, envisions simultaneous (machine) translation to another language. With a market of 285 million visually impaired worldwide–85 percent are over 50 (WHO)–there’s a ready-made market right there and for technologies like the Oxford ‘assisted vision’ project [TTA 11 July]. Mr. Shilkrot is shy on the commercialization subject, but given the positive media reception, he should perhaps think it over. TechCrunch (includes video demo), Mashable, MIT’s release and FAQ. Hat tip to reader Luca Sergio of Ethis Communications/Ethis Healthtech, New York

International eGovernment and eHealth Cooperation Forum 2014 (Austria)

20 October 2014. Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, Wiedner Hauptstraße 63, Vienna, Austria

The Cooperation Forum is targeted at European and international public administrators, service providers, companies and potential purchasers in the areas of eHealth and eGovernment. It covers several verticals outside of healthcare but in the eHealth area they are (directly) listed as eHealth and Telemedicine, as well as less directly Open Government Data (OGD)/Public sector information (PSI). The Forum is centered on learning about latest trends and technologies, as well as cross-border contacts and meetings with principals in the eGovernment and eHealth sector. Supported by Enterprise Europe Network, the European Commission, WKO and Digital Austria. Attractively, participation in the Cooperation Forum is free of charge but registration for the event is mandatory; for international guests it includes complimentary accommodation (two nights in a 3*/4* hotel in the city center of Vienna with breakfast). Program (PDF). Flyer (PDF)Information and registration. Hat tip to Eva Weidinger, Head of Technology Affairs at the Austrian Embassy (London)

Google, Novartis team on ‘smart contact lens’ for diabetics

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/116-fam_1a.jpg” thumb_width=”175″ /]Despite Sergey and Larry’s vapors over healthcare [TTA 10 July], Google is joining with the Alcon eyewear/eyecare division of Novartis to further develop the smart contact lens. With a licensing deal between them, the initial Google X-Novartis project is the smart contact lens that contains a low power microchip and a hair-thin electronic circuit. It would initially measure blood glucose for diabetics, but also in Novartis’ president’s words, would meet additional “unmet medical needs” within the next five years. Our profile of the lens exactly six months ago [TTA 17 July] has additional detail, including the practicality (and injury potential) of contact lenses for diabetics, especially thicker ones with ‘circuitry’. (Also see the comment below the article.) Another area (and a much-needed, thus profitable one) is age-related farsightedness and creating an ‘autofocusing’ lens much like a zoom lens. Certainly a partner like Alcon will help work through the questions and also steer the X-Marks-The-Spot lens through the usual FDA review that marks the muddy spot before the rainbow. Google Smart Contact Lens Focuses On Healthcare Billions (Forbes)

Medvivo: correction

On 13th July this editor wrote a piece entitled “Wearables & mHealth: a few observations “ which included a paragraph on staff reductions at Medvivo which we suggested might be a part of an overall reduction in Medvivo’s engagement with telehealth. We had tried to contact the company beforehand, without success, however following publication of the story, this editor was then contacted by Andrew Cowie, Chief Executive of Medvivo. He kindly pointed that with the acquisition of Magna Careline, Medvivo’s headcount has actually increased by some 50, significantly more than the number who are en route to leaving the company. The other observation mentioned in the paragraph as supporting our concerns was, apparently, entirely coincidental (and transitory), and the following paragraph, which actually related to the BBC, was so worded that Medvivo (incorrectly) took it to refer to them. We therefore unreservedly apologise, and invite readers to check out the revised article.

RSM event on Clinical Neuroscience and Telemedicine on 24th September (UK)

Through presentations by world-class clinicians, this meeting on 24th September, will examine the wide range of ways in which telemedicine has improved patient outcomes, and reduced cost, in the field of clinical neuroscience. Older readers with long memories may recall a BT television advert from the late ’80’s featuring a neurosurgical consultant in his dressing gown and slippers studying a TV monitor in his home. A CT scan of an acute patient had been transferred in real time for a consultant decision using the ‘Intrans’ system. Since then, there have been many applications of image transfer, which has become the UK norm. This will be discussed, as well as the complexities and difficulties related to encryption.

However telemedicine has applications in a host of other clinical areas. Management of very acute neurological conditions remains the most obvious. ‘Apps’ in head injury management are now commonly used for both record and decision making and are about to be expanded further. We will also be discussing telemedicine intensive management with international experts by Skype. Acute stroke has also been transformed by thrombolytics, although the decision on who to treat must be made in local centres without recourse to neurological experts, so here again telemedicine plays a vital role.

Acute medicine is not the only field where telemedicine has a role. Long term management of disabled patients who find the distance to the specialist centre daunting is also vital. Telemedicine in neuro-rehabilitation is one of a number of areas where the techniques have found a clear place.

This is the fourth event organised by the RSM’s Telemedicine & eHealth Section this year – the previous three have all been extremely well attended; delegates have rated them highly in feedback reports. To book go here – as with all RSM events, prices are far below commercial rates as the Society is a charity dedicated to medical education and the promotion of medical advances.

Lessons to be learned from business clusters – UK report

As this editor gets regular requests for survey data and forecasts, it would be a shame not to make readers aware of Industrial revolutions: capturing the growth potential, a recent 92-page report commissioned by the Gatsby Foundation from a partnership of Centre for Cities and McKinsey. Lord Sainsbury has written the foreword.

The report focuses on the lessons to be learned from clusters because:

1. Clusters are a major contributor to growth. The 31 economically significant clusters identified in this report contain 8% of the UK’s businesses, but generate 20% of UK output (gross value added).

2. Clusters are important sources of well-paid jobs. The United Kingdom’s top 31 economically significant clusters together employ four million people – one in seven of the working population – and they offer average salaries that are typically higher than those in the surrounding region.

3. Clusters bring business advantages that cannot easily (more…)

McKinsey: digital health mythbusters

Readers will find the very readable McKinsey survey of patient attitudes to digital health valuable in helping them determine the best way forward to develop their online services.

The survey covered patients in three very different health services – UK, Germany and Singapore. Principal findings, headlined as five busted myths, were:

Myth: People don’t want to use digital services for healthcare – actually 75% of them (more…)

New consultation on monitoring of home-based care services (UK)

Undaunted by the apparent lack of interest in their multi supplier framework agreement for telecare & telehealth tender last year, the East Shires Purchasing Organisation (ESPO) is now seeking to establish a multi supplier framework agreement for the supply of systems to facilitate the monitoring by local authorities and other service commissioners and service providers of home-based care services. The framework will apparently also include solutions and products that assist in the scheduling of home care visits and the rostering of care staff.

According to the announcement, the requirement is for both stand alone and integrated systems, with various hosting options and technologies. Systems should ideally be tailored to the needs of the home care sector.

At this stage, ESPO is keen to engage with interested parties to discuss the products and services currently available in the market, options regarding the structure of the procurement and the anticipated direction of future market developments. Those keen to participate in this market consultation are asked to contact Louis Blake on 0116 294 4055 or l.blake@espo.org, by 30 August 2014.

Although having a touch of “big brother” (more…)

Can volunteers prove that RATULS helps mitigate the effect of strokes?

RATULS, standing for Robot Assisted Training for the Upper Limb after Stroke, is a randomised controlled trial that is looking for volunteers..

The trial seeks to establish whether robot assisted training with the Inmotion robotic gym system improves upper limb function post stroke.  RATULS is looking for people who have only had one stroke (between one week and five years post stroke, with moderate to severe arm weakness) to take part.

Consenting trial participants will be randomised into one of three groups

A) Robot-assisted therapy
B) Enhanced Therapy
C) Usual Care

Patients will receive therapy for 45 minutes, three days per week for 12 weeks. There is funding available for patient travel. Experience so far has shown that patients are keen to take part in the study.

For more details or to enquire about volunteering, please contact karen.dunne@bhrhospitals.nhs.uk

Wearables and mHealth: a few observations

The Telegraph reports on the creation of Amazon UK’s wearables store, following on from their US launch that we covered on April 30th. Unlike in the original US launch, locating the store is not that challenging, however it is very much a jumble of products: if you know what you want then you probably don’t need a store to find it; if you don’t, there’s precious little to guide you to find the right product.

One of the wearables they’ll doubtless think carefully before stocking is (more…)

A long-overdue robotics roundup

Focusing today on robotics in and around DARPA and the US Armed Forces, via Armed With Science. Military advances are a ‘pointer to the future’ where robotics will eventually assist older adults, the disabled and the rest of us in our daily lives. (We’ve also noted where other military protocols can work into assistive technologies–see ‘The Big Red Button’ emergency alert app.) :

  • Update on the DARPA Robotics Challenge: The Phase 3-Final originally set for December will take place 4-5 June in Pomona, California due to some changes in the third round specs including an emphasis on ‘cloud robotics’ and international applicability. DARPA’s program is strictly oriented to ground operations, disaster response and human supervision. Changes in spec include full wireless, tetherless and continuous operation–the operators communicate with the robots wirelessly only including periods of latency, their power source is 100 percent onboard, and the robots must be able to complete a sequence of eight tasks and recover in a ‘challenging environment’ without outside help. Plus DARPA is throwing in a secret challenge that looks like it will be disclosed only at the final. Specs have evolved to the point where there has been a withdrawal of a finalist which is now concentrating on commercialization despite the $2 million prize.  Here Come The Robots  Previously in TTA: DARPA Robotics field competition (Phase 2), Robotics Challenge winners
  • Robotics Secrets Revealed! In this humorous video, the Naval Research Lab’s Lucas, Octavia and PackBot set up some human furloughs (real enough) so that they get some rest. The reasoning behind their actions and the humans is explored. Robot Ruckus.
  • MAST’s Mini Robots and ‘microsystems’ may be in future used to locate, identify and engage high-priority targets by increasing situational awareness. This includes drones. Emphasis more on in-field use. Unfortunately written in Pentagon-ese. The Military’s Mini Robots
  • Meet a specialist in robotics. Interview with bomb disposal robot engineer Aaron O’Toole, awarded the Navy’s top engineering award in 2013. An area of his concentration is flexibility and fluidity of motion. Insights into how a developer looks at mobility and skill challenges. Meet the Scientists


The King’s Fund: International Digital Health and Care Congress

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Q75-digital-health-dot-mailer-banner-e1405212554733.jpg” thumb_width=”450″ /]

10–12 September 2014 at The King’s Fund, London W1G 0AN


This three-day event at The King’s Fund, now in its fourth year, is a truly international Congress in attendance and speakers. It will showcase new ideas, new research and new innovations in digital health, mobile health, telehealth and telecare around these five topics.

  • Sustaining independence as people age
  • Preventing and managing chronic illness effectively
  • Supporting people with mental health issues
  • Digitally enabling service transformation
  • Innovations in technology

Wednesday’s pre-Congress session begins with lunch, a full day on Thursday concluding with an (optional) dinner and a full Friday. Our own Editor Charles Lowe will be presenting on medical apps during the 11:30 breakout session (the T2F section) at 11:30am Thursday. See here for detailed information on the Congress sessions. PDF summary including keynote speakers.

As TTA is a media sponsor of the Congress, we are pleased to offer our readers a 10 percent discount off pricing for all their registration types, including the Thursday dinner. Click here to automatically obtain the discount.

Assisted Vision: sight enhancement for the partially sighted

Dr Stephen Hicks is a Research Fellow in neuroscience and visual prosthetics at the University of Oxford. He and his team are working on a project to develop a pair of glasses to help partially [grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Smart-Glasses.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]sighted people “see” what is in front of them.

BBC’s Johny Cassidy spoke to Hicks recently about the Oxford smart specs project for BBC’s In Touch programme. The project uses Augmented Reality (AR) to make objects in the field of vision sharper for partially sighted people. Hicks says the object is to “try to make a pair of glasses which look relatively normal to people in the environment and still provides a computer based object enhancement and object detection that would be able to be seen by people with very, very limited sight”.

The glasses use two cameras, a gyroscope, a compass and a GPS unit. The “lenses” are made of transparent OLED displays enabling the wearer to see through with any available sight and also allowing others to see the user’s eyes.

“The next step in terms of commercial development is to reduce the size of the glasses and the processing unit into something acceptable to people in day to day life”, says Hicks. The “take-home” versions are targeted to be built in autumn this year.

How much is it likely to cost? A stated goal of the project is to keep the costs down so that the maximum number of people as possible will have access to these glasses. So where possible off-the-shelf components are being used. Hicks says that a pair of glasses for less than £300 is possible compared to just under US$10,000 for the only other one that Johny Cassidy had been able to find. Google Glass, Epson Moverio and similar glasses are, of course, not functionally comparable.

Help develop ‘The Big Red Button’ emergency alert app

Help Edd Tillen design a telecare alternative

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Big-Red-2.jpg” thumb_width=”170″ /]We occasionally hear from one of our developer readers, and so it was at the end of June when Mr Edd Tillen wrote me about a smartphone app he is developing called ‘The Big Red Button’. It does what a typical ‘panic alarm’ app does–alert a designated person about an emergency or unsafe situation–but coordinates the response among several carers with a sister app on their phones. One person is designated a ‘responder in charge’, and the nearest in distance (based upon GPS) is the first responder. The design of the app coordinates the response and informs all responders on what is happening to its conclusion. The responder in charge also calls the casualty to get a better idea of what is happening. Mr Tillen designed the app after how the British Army handles battlefield casualty drills where everyone has a role (he’s a member of the Reserves, Royal Logistics Corps). In his capacity working in social care with the Leicestershire County Council, he also felt that smartphones, which are being more widely accepted among older persons, are a better alternative for most than expensive and home-based telecare contracts.

Here’s where Mr Tillen would like YOUR help. On his website, there’s a working demo of the app. It has two different scenarios–what is seen from the casualty and also what the carer would see. He’s looking for reviewers to then fill out a consultation questionnaire, which he will use with his developer (part of the Leicestershire Tech Start Up Community) for modifications and with potential investors, who especially want to see interest from those engaged in the field prior to its projected release this Autumn. Website