WIRED Data | Life Conference

Jadie Oh

Last week I attended the Wired Data | Life health conference in New York.

The conference focused on how data, technology, and design now allow us to quantify ourselves and give patients access to information at their fingertips to make better decisions about our health. In short: how is technology paving a way to a healthier future? How do technology, data, and design come together to shape the future?

Take the lab out of lab work
One innovative new service presented at the conference demonstrated exactly how technology can be used to improve and simplify personal health.

The company, Theranos, has developed a service where users, by extracting one tiny blood sample, can get the result within hours, allowing for more frequent sampling, faster medication adjustments, and faster treatment. In addition, the pricing for the lab test is the same for everyone, whether you are insured or not, making the tests more accessible and transparent. The service also eliminates lab errors and is, in my opinion, a great example of successful service design on many levels.

Image from www.theranos.com

Wearables watch out for us
Founded in 2008, MC10 has taken the term wearable, mostly associated with wristband-like devices, to a new level – flexible electronics. One of their recent developments is the Biostamp, a small, plaster-like product full of sensors that conform with the human body. Their first commercial product, Checklight, developed in partnership with Reebok, is an impact indicator made to be worn underneath a helmet. It can then monitor potential shocks to the head, and in that way prevent damages that might otherwise not have been taken seriously, or even noticed, being left untreated.

Image from www.mc10inc.com

The Ecological Community
Also presenting at the Wired Data|Life conference was Ubiome. Founded by a group of young scientists and funded by crowdsourcing, this service offers a kit for individuals to measure “the ecology of the human body,” also known as Microbiome. Microbiome is a term that the medical industry has come to pay close attention to recently. The science revolves around microbial cells, which outnumber our human cells times 10, which indicates that by studying the microbial cells we can come to know even more about our body than, for example, a DNA study would reveal. Microbiome is all about collecting the data from the human body and analyzing and studying it in order to learn even more about ourselves.

Sharing is Caring
The main themes I was able to take away from the conference was that big data is a big hit in the health industry, especially personalized medicine and data collection, which is something we will see a lot more of in the future. But for this to work participation is needed. The more data individuals share, the more the industry will know and understand about the human body.

Another important point to take away was in terms of the quantified self and wearables. Although wearables have come a long way already, I believe we will see a massive development in terms of a multi-sensor approach – Wearables will be able to consider more contexts and thereby better decisions can be made.

In conclusion, there will always be problems to solve. But as long as we have curious, creative minds, the problems only help create a world of opportunity.

Jadie Oh

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