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Disruptive Technologies beyond 2030 in the Data Ecosystems III

Mimosys is a smartphone app analysing the voice of the person as she talks through the day. It captures emotional tell-signs and can alert on stressful situations impacting the person wellbeing. Credit: University of Tokyo

Diagnostic Toilet

The ubiquitous presence of sensors and more generally IoT in the coming decades makes continuous monitoring of health parameters possible. Already today we see a number of companies providing services to monitor health parameters, taking advantage of smartphones since they have sensors, processing, storage and communications capabilities and sometimes adding specific sensors to a smartphone. In the next decade we are going to see an integrated approach to sensing in the home for health monitoring.
Toilets are used here as an icon of the revolution happening at home in terms of continuous health monitoring. Toilets are likely to become chemical labs daily testing some parameters that used to be tested through medical exams once in a while, usually when some symptoms prompted a person to see her physician.

Scanadu Scout is a hockey puck size that has been designed to monitor in a seamless way a number of vital signs. Credit: Scanadu

Companies like Toto are actively researching on ways to exploit toilets and the trends will take steam in the next decade with an expected mass market presence of smart toilettes in the fourth decade of this century providing day by day diagnostic possibility. Toilets are used every day and that is part of the reason why they are interested as monitoring devices. Mirrors are also used daily and researchers have been focussing on them to monitor health.

Other companies, like Scanadu, are looking at devices that can fit in a home environment to provide a seamless monitoring of the dwellers.
This is going to transform, and disrupt, today’s approach to health care based on patient reporting problem, rather than on factual detection of potential future problems. It is also opening up a business of health proactive monitoring services.
The home becomes the doctor studio and hospital of the future, not for everything of course but for many situations. If we look further down the lane we can see an even higher percentage of health situations that will be managed at home, possibly using robots impersonating a doctor via telepresence and even acting autonomously.

Medical Tricorders

A complementary approach to support health care monitoring at home, or in the field, is to create medical grade devices that can be used by normal people, without training. These are called “medical tricorders” (after the Star Trek tricorder, a handheld device to scan and process objects in the environment) and a number of companies are working on them, like Dynamical Biomarkers Group, a Taiwan company that won a 1 million $ prize with their multi-analyses device designed for home use.

It looks like a home printer, it is a medical grade blood-urine tester, a vital sign monitor and bio-marker detector. Credit: Dynamical Biomarkers Group

Other companies, like Basil Leaf Technologies, are developing non invasive ways for home medical testing, like blood monitoring able to get the white blood cells count, hemoglobin and blood glucose, breath sound analyses (digital stethoscope) and simplified urine testing.

The possibility of taking accurate exams at home can drastically increase centralised availability by decreasing demand, although overall it is likely to increase the cost by shifting them to the mass market with duplication of resources. However, we might expect that this will increase individual awareness on their medical situation resulting in prompter actions that will reduce cost through earlier intervention.

Notice that in the medical tricorders as in the diagnostic toilet area the hardware represents the enabling technology whilst the data generated are the platform to create services leveraging on artificial intelligence technologies to extract meaning.

Peer to peer energy trading and transmission

The push to renewable energy sources for power generation has led to a very fragmented market with millions of micro generation plants around the world. At the same time a growing number of power users are becoming smart, and flexible, in their use of power.

This trend is expected to continue in the future decades and by the fourth decade of this century smarter peer to peer energy trading and transmission will become available changing the energy landscape.

The global annual deployment of power generation stations divided by types. As it can be seen in the coming 2 decades the lion share will be taken by renewable sources, solar, wind and other renewables. These are areas where micro generation will be significant. Credit: World Energy Outlook 2017

This evolution is creating a market with a myriad of small players and companies, like Power Ledger and L03 energy, are working to provide distributed trading platforms (based on blockchain technology).

The Energy Web Foundation is aggregating an ever growing number of companies to transform the energy landscape.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.