Interface is our magazine containing a selection of articles, news stories and thought pieces on current and emerging technologies and markets
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Issue 55: Autumn 2013
A healthy appetite for change
The last few years have seen rapid changes in healthcare as the influence of consumer technologies spreads into hospital wards and doctors’ surgeries. But it is important to undertake such projects after understanding the pitfalls and being aware of the impact that seemingly simple choices can have in the long term.
A day in the life of a diabetic
A new mood of optimism is spreading among diabetic sufferers as a result of progress towards what has long been considered the ‘holy grail’ in diabetes – the artificial pancreas. To understand why that should be so important, it’s necessary to understand what the life of a type 1 diabetic is like.
A profitable headache?
Water is a sizeable by-product of the extraction of oil and gas. Treating and disposing of it is a major expense for many operators. However, this water is a valuable resource. So how can operators ensure water quality in the field?
The Asia challenge
Consumer technology companies with very short lifespans is a trend that is evident across East Asia. Rather than developing everything in-house or expensively acquiring companies with all the challenges of cultural adaptation, Asian companies should look to work with global leaders in innovative technology development.
Managing astronomical complexity
Combining different technologies and applying these to problems as diverse as sending a probe to Mars, controlling a person’s heart rate or making the perfect cup of coffee all involve complex multi-disciplinary development projects. Choosing the systems engineering model is the most critical decision.
In tune with you
Wireless technology adds a new dimension to medical implants – allowing remote monitoring and treatment optimisation, whether it’s a pacemaker for your heart or a device to help with pain management. But successful design of wireless implants is no mean feat.
A smart move
Ericsson sparked a flurry of crystal-ball gazing about how connected our lives will be in the coming decade when it published its headline-grabbing prediction that by 2020 there would be 50 billion connected devices. Whatever the right number, it’s clear that products that are not connected will soon look very last century.
Shake-up in foam technology
The aerosol industry is rapidly running out of viable propellants – a challenge that’s been the trigger for our latest technology breakthrough. We’ve come up with a new low-cost environmentally-friendly way of creating foam.
Wild about technology
Imagine sitting in your home and being the first – and only – person to identify an endangered golden-rumped elephant-shrew picking its way through undergrowth in the depths of Africa. The Instant Wild network of remote satellite cameras also aims to cut poaching.
An evolution of product development?
What is your product? The answer used to be simple – whether it was washing-up liquid or a coffee machine. But increasingly there are more and more ‘product types’ – from basic formulations through to complex service business models. So is it fair to see the different product types as an evolution?
An appy ending?
Apps are extending their reach into every corner of our lives – and the world around us. Evolving sensors, more processing power and better short-range communications mean everything from light bulbs to activity monitors is now a smartphone accessory. This new world brings new challenges for developers.
Ideas are easy. Innovation is hard. The context of surgical innovation is a complex one – and only the most experienced practitioners can deliver success.
The future starts here
Technology has advanced at an incredible rate in the last century. Even ‘simple’ things that we take for granted today – like mobile phones and high-definition television – were true science fiction for the masses a mere 30 years ago. And these are the tip of the iceberg.
What’s going to rock your world?
Big changes – be they environmental, technological, commercial, political or regulatory – can rock the world of your business. Standing still is not an option. For those who take the time and have the energy to understand the changes and their potential impact, opportunities abound.
The great experience mash-up
The stars are aligning for the great mash-up of consumer and medical mobile technologies. Healthcare privacy issues are converging with those of social media. Health coverage providers are exploring efficiencies through outcome-based strategies, and myriad technology companies are lining up with concepts to charge through the first available breach.
Issue 54: Spring 2013
It’s good to talk – and vital to listen
We all want products which don’t just work – but work fantastically. To make this a reality, it’s vital to talk to potential users as early as possible. But this crucial step can often be overlooked in the rush to start a project. You also need to listen – and to listen well.
An attractive option?
All wireless technologies have their limitations. Applying the right technology to the right situation requires a fundamental understanding of the physics involved. And it’s an approach that can help find answers to unsolved problems.
In search of the sweet spot
Diabetes is on the increase – along with its serious complications, which are exacerbated by patients failing to comply with their doctor’s advice. Although the use of insulin is effective, it requires the patient to constantly adjust their dose by taking regular blood sugar measurements. Patient ‘non-compliance’ is a common problem.
An eye on the bigger picture
The collection of vast amounts of information is a reality in the 21st century. The ability to get to grips with this torrent of data is crucial. This means not just collecting data but analysing it, extracting the most relevant information, and providing conclusions which might help decision making.
On track to succeed
The recent clash between Apple and Google over whose map is better has shown how important location-aware services have become. The GPS system began life in 1979 as a US military navigation system. But it has one fundamental limit – the signals are too weak to be received reliably indoors.
Communications on the critical list
Emergencies don’t just happen in hotspots – so reliable and secure coverage is vital for the emergency services when it comes to mobile communications. Can critical communications ride the wave of new mobile broadband technology but avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater when considering their specialised voice requirements?
The tea bag goes high tech
Tea is one of the most popular drinks on the planet – second only to water in the amount consumed. What if it became possible to create a cup of tea that offered the same flavour as the long-established tea-making ritual – without the time and hassle that so often accompanies it?
The magic touch
Brands are big business – but what is it that turns a company name into a global brand? Customers are key, and understanding them and targeting your communication with them is crucial to maximising the uptake of products and creating brand awareness.
Injecting new design
Safety and efficacy are always going to be the two most important things in medical device design. But there’s no doubt that – with users increasingly having more choice of medical devices – aesthetics and ease of use are going to become more important. The piona auto-injector is a prime example.
Devices that deskill surgeons, patients who pay and a strong outcome focus – 2030 will see a new type of surgery. The Cambridge Consultants surgical workshop painted an exciting – but challenging – picture of the next 20 years. The picture is exciting for those who respond – and terrifying for those who don’t.
More power to your elbow
From IT rooms to operating theatres, more and more critical equipment depends on 24/7 uninterrupted power conversion. So the spotlight is on the technologies that make this possible. Power electronics systems are now part of the ‘intelligent’ family of equipment around us – and will evolve even more to become a pillar of the modern age.
One small step for a robot…
Medical robotics technology is set to transform the life of the surgeon – and help save the lives of patients. But what new type of robotic surgical technology will appear that advances the devices already in use? Robots that can operate inside an MRI scanner, for example, or robots you can swallow.
Trying to connect you…
With Ericsson predicting 50 billion connected devices by 2020, hopes are high for a future where everyday objects communicate with each other to make our lives easier. But we’ve been promised the connected refrigerator for a long time…
Your most important phone accessory
Healthcare as we know it will not last. Across much of the world, healthcare spending has been rising more rapidly than economic growth since the 1970s. This trend cannot continue. So what will the future hold?
Make it better, do it faster
As the world economy struggles to get into first gear, executives are looking more and more to their innovation teams to provide much-needed growth – often within a shrinking budget. Delivering on these growth aspirations will require many research and development teams to defy the accepted ‘quality-speed-cost’ constraints of innovation.