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Healthy new kids on the block at CES 2013

Posted by Joe McNamara on 15th January 2013

CES 2013 was naturally billed to be about phones, cameras, computers, tablets, TVs and gaming. Sure enough, consumer electronics will be grabbing the vast majority of the headlines, but this year there are some new trendsetters turning a few heads in Las Vegas – the ‘health tech’ companies.

One that caught my eye is a company called Healthspot that has brought a particularly exciting demo to the table. It’s a fully equipped medical kiosk where patients can connect to a doctor remotely to receive a full medical examination. The idea being that you could wander into a pharmacy and speak to your doctor through an online portal.

This is taking Pfizer’s famous ‘Just Ask’ campaign in 2006, an online service aimed at encouraging men to share embarrassing problems such as erectile dysfunction and seek medical advice, to a whole new level.

Where next for health tech?

Just as advances in consumer technology aim to put power into the consumer’s hands, health tech devices are designed to give patients access to information, data and even diagnoses without having to visit a doctor, dentist or pharmacist.

While Healthspot’s Star Trek like medical kiosk is an exciting way of doing this, existing hardware is the health tech developer’s best friend. I am of course talking about smartphones and tablets. We saw the healthcare app revolution in its infancy last year exhibited at MWC 2012.

The fact is, the easier people can monitor their own health the more likely they are to be bothered about it. For example, I’m far more likely to check my blood-pressure if I can do so using my smartphone and don’t have to visit a nurse who crushes my arm for a while before telling me I need to eat less fried chicken.

For app and algorithm developers, the healthcare industry provides a massive opportunity as patients turn increasingly to ‘virtual mum’ type apps, which basically allow them to monitor their health using their smartphone. GymPack capitalised on the New Year by designing a clever little app intended to help people stick to their new fitness regime, basically offering cash incentives to make you go to the gym!

Of course, hardware manufacturers can also get ahead by designing their innovative new inventions with health in mind, be it an ergonomically designed chair or eye-friendly screen. Awareness of such products may be increasingly adopted by businesses looking out for the health and comfort of their employees, adding further potential to the health tech revolution.

Whatever the future holds, it’s great to see the health tech innovators being embraced at CES 2013 and this may prove to be a big year for this industry.

Photo courtesy of TechCrunch.

Joe McNamara