Reporting back from CES 2019

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Neil Campbell, CDP’s consumer technology business development leader, is freshly back from the Consumer Electronics Show 2019 in Las Vegas. Here, he reflects on the healthcare innovations there that caught his eye, from malaria-defying lightbulbs to DIY ultrasound scanners

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 is a vast, raucous collection of the very latest in gadgetry and innovation. It’s an event at which, over the four days of America’s biggest technology show, you can sift for nuggets of gold amid a sea of clamouring sales staff. This year, I did all the legwork so that you don’t have to. Here are my top five take-away healthcare gems from CES 2019:

1 The pill-dispenser you can talk to and through

Amid the myriad of gadgets on display, it was a product from Pillo Health licenced to Stanley Ventures that really caught my eye. Called Pria, this piece of kit is an elegant answer to the problem of making sure that patients – the elderly in particular – comply with their medication without feeling like you are being “nannied”.

About the size of a large alarm clock, you can load a Pria with up to a month’s worth of tablets. Its round interactive screen has two friendly eyes and it uses facial recognition to dispense daily (or even hourly) meds correctly. As well as reminding a patient using speech to take their medication, the Pria can send alerts such as “Your Dad missed his 8am dose” through to a relative’s smartphone. The Pria also allows family and carers to facetime the elderly person through its screen. It’s beautifully designed and a truly practical use of connective tech.

At CES, I saw a lot of energy going into creating lifestyle products in the hopes of them becoming the “must-haves” that people simply can’t live without. The Pria for me was a stand-out winner. Anyone with an elderly relative would see this and say: “We need this, now.”

2 The sticking-plaster solution to infant fever

At the other end of the age spectrum to elderly care, having worked in innovation for many years in this space I was fascinated by the many parenting tech products on offer. My favourite was an intelligent sticking plaster, called TempTraq, which is a wireless thermometer for digitally monitoring body temperature.
Each plaster is single-use and, when stuck on a child’s body just under the armpit, will continuously record body temperature with versions ranging from 24 to 72 hours, sending its results instantly via Bluetooth to smartphones. It is already on sale and prices start at just $14.99.

As the parent of a four-year-old myself, I can see this becoming an essential addition to any family medicine cabinet. With a TempTraq plaster, you can not only spot a dangerously high fever spike in a sick child and treat it immediately but can gather and analyse the data as well. This product also has huge potential for high-volume use within healthcare systems to improve the care and safety of poorly children as temperature is one of the few important diagnostic metrics that is not constantly measured in hospitals. Brilliant.

3 Home diagnosis, made simple

Another winner in my eyes was a home diagnosis kit called Tyto. This consists of a handheld touchscreen device that records and sends medical data from a patient to a doctor.  Working via an app which requests a doctor consultation, the device has a range of add-ons such as a tongue depressor, stethoscope, otoscope (for ear examinations) and thermometer which can send your doctor data. Costing around $300, Tyto is made by a small company but already complies with the tough FDA (Food and Drink Administration) regulations in the US and is being offered Stateside by certain healthcare providers as a service to patients. innovation right now.

On the subject of home diagnostic testing, I was amused – but perhaps should not have been surprised – to see that for $60 you can get an over-the-counter sperm fertility optic imaging diagnostic testing kits that were also on offer at CES by YO. It’s clear that self-help health diagnosis is a key area for innovation with a theme of bringing the clinic and lab into the privacy of your own home.

4 How’s the baby? Well, take a look…

Any parent will remember the excitement of seeing their unborn child on a screen during an ultrasound examination at hospital. Imagine if you could have access to your very own ultrasound scanner at home? Well, for around $2,000 you now can, thanks to a company called Butterfly iQ, which showcased its tiny scanner (about the size of an electric razor) at CES.
Billed as a lifesaver and gamechanger, it’s aimed at patients in remote rural areas with, say heart conditions or problem pregnancies. It comes with an app that allows the ultrasound imaging to be sent live to a doctor and has settings to allow you to cover a range of medical conditions. There is also AI (Artificial Intelligence) within the gadget to guide users to take the images correctly.

Another similar scanner technology but aimed purely for pregnancy scanning was on show by a company form the Netherlands called Baby-scan. Although they have yet to launch to the market, I expect, due to the lower number of functionalities, the price is likely to be significantly lower than the Butterfly IQ. But a unique feature that in my opinion puts it in the high consumer value proposition for a product is that it does both 2D and 3D scan images of the foetus thereby capturing images of those precious moments to share with the family. So I can imagine parents-to-be scanning their bumps daily, just for the fun of seeing them.

5 Truly a lightbulb moment

Finally, my attention was also snagged by something very left field: Having worked in the innovation and product development space for pest control and insect borne disease prevention it tickled me to find this lightbulb. The FlyLight by Cleanrth Products LLC is a simple-looking doughnut shaped bulb that attracts insects. Once attracted there’s a fan inside that suck’s up the pests. Combining the two traditional trap techniques of an attracting light and suction capture it fits in a normal light socket and has a sliding door so you can easily clean out the dead insects.
It could be that the FlyLight has the potential to be a truly life-saving product in the developed world in the fight against Zika, and other flying insect borne diseases.

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Neil Campbell

Head of Consumer Technology