The BioStamp: A New Breed of Medical Device

mc10’s BioStamp. Image credit: Harry Gould IV for Bloomburg Businessweek

The New Frontier

This week I have chosen just one innovation, or rather one innovative company, to write about. The company is called mc10. And they’re changing the world.

mc10 manufactures flexible, inconspicuous electronic monitoring devices. Their first major achievement was the CheckLight, created in partnership with Reebok. This small plastic wafer can be worn underneath the skullcap of players of contact sports like rugby or american football. The device collects multiple data points and provides and early warning system for head trauma.

Flexible Electronics

Much cooler than the CheckLight, however, is the prototype BioStamp. This is an electronic sensor that resembles nothing so much as one of those temporary tattoos you wore as a kid. The exciting part of the BioStamp is that it can monitor vital signs like heart rate, body temperature, brain activity and UV exposure. And using NFC, the device can send signals to a nearby device, such as a smartphone. The product is a few years away from market, but is likely to last around two weeks, and cost under $10.

Let’s stop for a minute to let that sink in. What we are talking about here is accurate, real-time and quantifiable data on the physical condition of any person, at any time. It doesn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to envision a future device which can utilise solar energy, or even utilise energy from your own body. Just imagine – You are whisked off to hospital hours before a fatal heart failure occurs, because the software on your phone detected an abnormality and pinged your doctor. As an athlete, you would have access to  invaluable physical data and scope for analysis. Insurance companies may even start offering a rebate in exchange for access to your medical data, as they have for car insurance and driving data.

Predictive Power

Even more exciting is what all this data will do for predictive medicine. We will have reams of data being generated by ordinary people. In 5 or 10 years of widespread use, these devices will start to generate enough data to for medical researchers to predict disease outcomes accurately. This is especially true for lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

I could rabbit on about this thing forever, but I think will leave it at that. I will finish by saying that I believe that this innocuous-looking device is one on the biggest things to happen to public health in a long time. What I have mentioned here is just the tip of the iceberg.

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