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BIONIC LIMBS TO SELF-DESTRUCTING SYRINGES: WIRED HEALTH 2015

Health

From understanding and communicating the value of beauty in health-related technology to saving 10 million lives through the simplest of innovations, WIRED Health presented a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity. Our Strategy Director Rory Fegan glimpsed into the kind of ideas that will change the way we live forever.

The speaker highlights

Clive Brown from Oxford Nanopore Technologies is set to change the way we mine big data through the tiny MinION gene sequencer, a device that will come to represent the birth of the ‘internet of living things’.

Marc Koska spent over 15 years trying to medically register his truly innovative LifeSaver Syringe, which immediately breaks after the first use so it can’t pass on infectious disease. It’s already saved the lives of an estimated 10 million people worldwide. And earlier this year it was endorsed by the World Health Organization for that body’s new policy where all countries will have to use ‘smart’ syringes by 2020.

Sophie de Oliveira Barata is the founder of The Alternative Limb Project. A designer and maker who understands the value of beauty in health and wellbeing, her prosthetic creations help people show off what they’ve got, rather than have others stare at what they haven’t. You’ll probably know her better for creating the iconic ‘spike’ in Viktoria Modesta’s now infamous pop video.

Big Data is the key to the future

There were a number of salient themes that stood out on the day: Genome, Big Data, the democratisation of data, wearables, and predictive and personalised health.

We now understand more than ever how DNA makes up the human body, and we’ve captured and analysed the Big Data of hundreds of thousands of individuals. Although this data isn’t freely available right now, it’s the key for future generations. It will allow the prevention of ill health and the development of personalised health and wellness plans by healthcare professionals, ensuring people never become unhealthy in the first place (if there are any HCPs left by that point – though the digital doctor was a provocation too far for many).

Rather than such a big spectrum of ideas existing in a vacuum, they all seem to tie together rather nicely, but that’s a yet untold narrative – once someone puts the pieces together we will undoubtedly take a very different approach to our health. Tony Young, NHS’s Clinical Director for Innovation, hit the nail on the head when he said “If there is a place on the planet that you can innovate at scale, the NHS is it. We have data sets for our population going back 25 years. What a great mine of information we have there.”

How does brand design fit in?

It will be the job of brand designers to ensure that we don’t simply think of big ideas, accurately record data, and make it available. Instead, brand designers need to ensure the outputs – the consumables, packaging, products, instructions, and interactions – are easy to understand, simple to use and beautiful to behold. Otherwise no one will spare them a second thought.

For further reading see our:
Open Eye 24 Wellness issue
Open Eye 23 Healthcare issue