Technology surrounds us in our daily lives, but fewer applications than healthcare truly showcase the crescent of our collective problem-solving ability. Healthcare affects us all. This is evidenced in many ways from seeks a life-saving cure for their young, a performance athlete seeks to extend their career another 5 years, or someone simply leveraging the latest in nutritional products for better longevity.
While goals and desires may vary, we continue to seek a better quality of life through our collective use of technology. These are some of the latest healthcare technologies that stand to improve our lives even further.
AI stands to be the most influential technological development in human history. More so even than the computers on which AI courses, this approach to solving modern problems is quickly earning its lofty reputation.
AI can be applied to a diverse range of healthcare (and other) applications ranging from initial research and development to final consumer use. Static analysis of product design by AI can help design better products. Dynamic analysis during use can help products perform better and longer. Really, there is little that AI can’t do.
For example, Google’s Deep Mind technology has developed an AI solution that can detect signs of breast cancer better than doctors. Not only does this show potential in helping catch cancer earlier, but this AI can also be used across the world reducing the prevalence of human error. That’s the real benefit of AI—it’s highly-distributable and not reliant on any single source once developed.
Advances in 3D imaging have helped pioneer a new future for many fields in the health care industry. We are now able to use advanced 3D imaging in procedures such as MRIs, sonograms, and mammograms. Advanced equipment like the GE Discovery 690 can show a level-of-detail never before achieved. 3D printing stands to revolutionize many aspects of patient care and surgical procedures as well.
Another technology like computer rendering and visualization software is helping to create a newer generation of better-educated doctors and nurses. This technology, a mishmash of 3D modeling, 3D rendering, and 3D animation, is producing better educational materials. For example, having accurate and realistic medical animation videos can help familiarize doctors with procedures long before their residencies.
VR has been around for decades. From movies like Lawnmower man to Tron, the worlds of VR have always been immense, complicated, and sometimes scary (thanks Hollywood!) Advancements in graphics processing technology is now allowing VR to be used on a much wider scale than ever before.
Doctors, nurses, patients, and developers are able to quickly iterate on new product ideas. Also, VR tech can now be condensed into smaller devices bringing the possibility of application to nearly every environment. VR is helping train the next generation of healthcare professionals to be more aware and capable. For example, Harvard found that VR training may produce more successful surgeries.
Genomic sequencing was once thought to be the gateway to immortality. The Human Genome Project was a product of decades of research totaling billions in investment. The thought was that by “cracking” the human genome we would uncover the secrets to human health. While immensely insightful, the puzzle was discovered to be a bit more complex.
In the world of human genomics, there is a field named Epigenetics that is dedicated to the study of how the environment affects genetic expression. Researchers are quickly becoming aware that genes only tell half the story and, depending on life experiences, may or may not express themselves in ways that affect human health significantly.
On the other hand, exposures to environmental toxins, chemicals, and radiation may cause certain dormant genes to express in ways that can negatively affect our health. Projects like 23andMe are collecting massive amounts of data that are helping understand the complex relationship between our genetics, our environment, and our quality of life.
Looking to the Future
In many ways, these advancements in health technology will change our ability to imagine, design, and create even newer technologies. Technology like AI has already helped demonstrate that technology continues to be the path forward for our species. The solutions being conceived of by advanced machine learning technologies are as inspiring as they are complex. While none such AI has yet to predict the future yet, it seems safe to say that it will bring many exciting things.