Nokia Sensing XChallenge winners have been announced. As a refresher, the Nokia Sensing XChallenge was a competition that runs in parallel with the Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize. Aim? To increase innovation in sensing technologies. Nokia was already trying to pave ways in the mobile health revolution way before the whole smartphone health thing became the next bandwagon to jump on.
The Nokia Sensing XChallenge winner for this year was DNA Medicine Institute (DMI) of Cambridge (Massachusetts). They take home $525,00. Their entry? Imagine a portable device (a’match box’ sized) that can take a very small sample of blood and use that to run hundreds of clinical lab tests. The amount of routine bloods that hospitals/primary care centres take is enormous! Imagine even a portion of tests being able to be carried out right there and then. Just being able to do some more tests on the ward and not having to wait for the lab to collect your samples and come back at the end of the day or next day (you’ll wait even longer if it’s not urgent).
The results here are said to be available in a matter of minutes. More importantly, they’re regarded as being highly accurate (verified against FDA Gold standards).
The device is handheld and reusable. Called rHealth, it stands for
- Technology for
There are multiple members to the rHealth family (see the video). rHealth One for research, rHealth X and X1 for professionals and consumers. These have been the results of grants and contracts from NASA, NIH and the Gates Foundation.
A single drop of blood is analysed quickly by the system of nano-strips and lasers. This allows for detection of a range of conditions including (but not limited to) infection, leukaemia, anaemia, vit B deficiency, immune system damage, low O2. The team at DMI is the only one that is a finalist at Qualcomm’s $10 Million Tricorder Xprize (Similar goal, to use small sensors to detect medical conditions and diseases).Think of one of those blood sugar monitors that diabetic patients might use but something that can detect more than blood sugar there and then. Imagine having these kind of things in your phones? Might be weird now but it was probably weird a few years ago to have built in heart monitors. O2 sat monitors probably won’t be that far behind.
rHealth can do a range of vitals, eKG, sPO2, resp rate (done manually in wards. Takes time and it’s known that sometimes staff ‘make them up’ and just copy the previous resp rate. Very bad since resp rate can be a very good indicator that the patient’s health is deteriorating) and temperature. This data can stream via bluetooth to your device. Perhaps all of these sensors could go on a future microsoft band? :p.
Being able to monitor your health, and more so, doing these tests anytime and anywhere could mean that you could detect conditions before you even have any symptoms. One of the main problems with diseases like cancer is that they may be spotted when a patient presents with a very late symptom (hence why there may be routine health screens to try and detect these things early!). Early detection usually means a better prognosis.
In terms of research, having so much more data about these diseases could mean a better understanding of these diseases, how they work, what type of patients are at risk, what type of treatments work better etc. As a portable device, the best thing is being directly in charge of taking care of yourself and your loved ones. Well, to an extent anyway (you might still need some basic training with how to use this and how to interpret findings. It’s not always clear cut that XYZ blood results mean this or that. Hence why doctors say medicine is as much an art as it is a science). I’m impressed with the potential of these things! Unfortunately it’s late so I won’t be able to discuss the downsides or even the other entrants. But I’ll try to post about them in future segments, perhaps adding in why they’re awesome from a medical perspective.
Check out their video:
You can take a look at all the other teams here:
DMI’s leader is Dr Eugene Chan. He’s the Founder/Co-Founder of various biotechnology and medical devices companies, which have raised more than $120 million in funding. He also holds more than 50 issued and pending patents.