Quick Tuesday takes on health tech

Long-term sensors, smart thermometers and the Scanadu Nirvana

The first study of long term use of carbon nanotubes as implanted sensors has been published in Nature Nanotechnology. The nanotubes were implanted for a year in animals to track nitrous oxide (NO), an indicator of inflammation which is important in and of itself, but the level of NO is also not understood long term in cancer. To detect NO, the tubes are wrapped in DNA with a particular sequence and wrapped in an alginate gel to stay in place for a recorded 400 days. The MIT team working on this is also working on nanotubes for real-time detection of glucose levels, towards an accurate insulin pump that would end the diabetic’s perpetual Battle of Stalingrad. MIT News and FierceHealthIT.

The Kinsa smart thermometer for iPhone and Android received a glowing article in Fast Company Design. It’s a plug in device to the headphone jack which takes your temperature directly, records the results then connects to a ‘health weather’ app that maps the local incidence of similar health problems or allergy conditions. Another feature is care access:  it allows you to call a Kinsa nurse or find/book clinic or urgent care. What is neat about the app is that it also has an individual “forecast” based on the eventual diagnosis (a PHR of sorts called a ‘history log’) on what you should do (rest, light activity, safe to return to school or work); where this Editor is doubtful is the capacity of the company to accurately arrive at a ‘down ‘n’ dirty’ current epidemiology on local public health using individual reports combined with public data. Originally crowdfunded in April on Indiegogo and with private investor/VC funding, the website indicates that the rollout will first be in major urban areas then to the rest of the US and urban areas in Europe. But in-market timing is not to be found; the website’s still taking emails. Website.

Also still taking emails is the Scanadu Nirvana Scoutendlessly hyped by the D3H (Digital Health Hypester Horde) as the Digital Tricorder, which was going to be ready for Christmas 2013 [TTA 30 Nov 12]. It also did a spring round on Indiegogo [TTA 23 May] with an adjusted debut of March 2014 and our Contributing Editor Charles touched on the inventor’s talk at WiredUK2013 in his roundup [TTA 20 October]. Not reassuring to making that looming date is that the last release in their press section is dated May and the last blog entry is dated September–a confection likening Scanadu versus a doctor to GPS versus The Knowledge of the London taxi driver.

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