I’ve been knee-deep in the Consumer Electronics Show the last couple of days. It’s a treasure trove of things you expected to see (smart home accessories, high-tech vacuum cleaners) and some you didn’t (high-tech sex accessories). Still, I’ve seen some cool things, and although some are not 100% healthcare related, they appear to have the potential to deliver solid benefits.
- Abbott predictably showcased its Navica mobile app, which pairs with its BinaxNow COVID-19 antigen testing cards. Its FreeStyle Libre 2 continuous glucose monitoring system may not have received top billing, but could be a game-changer for diabetes patients age 4 and up.
- Ampere offers the Shower Power hydropower Bluetooth shower speaker. It recharges via the water flow and is made of recycled ocean plastic. It’s pricey at $100, but the idea of having your own mini-generator to keep tunes playing is kind of cool.
- Butterfly showed off its handheld ultrasound units that integrate with smartphones for a portable and accessible experience. This would be great for organizations that don’t want to spend the money on traditional ultrasound machines or that need to be able to deploy on the go. I was disappointed to see that some features are only available for IOS devices since Android clearly dominates the world market.
- PenguinSmart offers individualized online speech and language therapy support for pediatric patients. It claims to be the first remote / teletherapy solution to serve developmentally delayed patients who have speech and language needs.
- Samsung offers an AI-powered JetBot 90 robotic vacuum which “identifies messes” and avoids them. Anyone who has ever experienced a pet-related “poopocalypse” with their Roomba knows what a nightmare this can be. Pricing is expected to be upwards of $900, but depending on how bad you’re scarred from past events, it might be worth it.
- Steri-Write is a UV-C sterilization unit that cleans and dispenses ink pens for patients or the public. An article on the device was published in the American Journal of Infection Control in 2020 and the device itself is pretty slick. It’s got a slot on the top for the pen to enter the machine, then it travels on serpentine belts while exposed to UV light. A hands-free dispenser finishes the process. Since our office has the front desk team sanitizing pens with wipes and constantly managing them throughout the office, it would save time and resources.
- Welldoc offers app-driven solutions for management of multiple chronic conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, prediabetes, and behavioral health diagnoses. It reportedly can integrate data sets from payers, employers, and providers, but information on the actual solution was light unless you wanted to talk to a rep.
Other offerings include an AI-powered toothbrush (Philips Sonicare) that adjusts intensity based on user-applied pressure and has its own app to track effectiveness. There was also Heatbox: The Self-Heating Lunchbox, but honestly I’d rather have a self-chilling martini shaker that I could stick in the side pocket of my backpack for those particularly challenging days. Med:na from Medipresso is a DNA-driven solution that matches consumers with tea capsules based on their profiles. Not sure about the evidence-based background on that, but I bet someone will buy it. One thing I might consider buying is the Sniffy Personal Dog Trainer App, which is desperately needed by my neighbor since I get to hear her annoying dog barking outside my office window on a daily basis.
Procter & Gamble also featured a smart toothbrush, the Oral B iO. Its companion app provides feedback on brushing and offers tips for improving technique. I always love hearing German engineers discuss things like magnetic drive in the context of a “surprisingly enjoyable brushing experience.” Its AI brushing algorithms were trained with thousands of brushing sessions in the company’s labs.
I wanted to look at wearables and Garmin didn’t really have anything that caught my eye from a running and walking standpoint. Omron showcased its HeartGuide wearable blood pressure monitor that links with its HeartAdvisor app for BP, activity, and sleep monitoring. It also presented its VitalSight remote patient monitoring solution. MySize Inc. won the buzzword bingo challenge with its sensor-based measurement technology that allows for shoppers to have a contactless fit and style experience. They won by using “AI, Big Data, and Machine Learning” in a single sentence.
CES generated about 10x the email I usually receive prior to a HIMSS conference, and it shows no signs of letting up. I flipped through all the promotional emails I received, but if I couldn’t figure out what you were presenting, I didn’t do any further investigation.
The ones that were the easiest to figure out were those with COVID in the pitch. Their offerings were often straightforward, such as thermal scanners and social distancing accessories. Several vendors offered smart masks with various fans, filters, and monitors. Others weren’t COVID related but were clearly identified, such as Nexvoo’s ergonomic office chair with health monitor app. I’ll stick with my Ikea chair (which honestly is the best office chair I’ve ever had) for now.
If I had some advice to offer to the marketing teams that create the email, it would be to at least tell the reader something about the offering. For example, a company I’m already familiar with touted its “AI Powered Platform for Pandemic Response,” but the tagline didn’t really tell me anything, and it was frustrating to try to dig through press releases to see what the new or updated solution really offers. For example, Rise Gardens hit it out of the park with a single sentence describing their modular, WiFi-connected and app-guided indoor hydroponic garden for home use. I knew in less than a second that I wanted to check it out. Font and readability are also important in emails – if your font is unreadably small, everything you have to say is unfortunately a no-go.
Home bathrooms were a hot topic at both Kohler and Toto – touch-free commodes and faucets for the home were featured as a COVID-related solution. Bidet functionality was also prominent, especially with greater awareness of their existence following the Great TP Shortage of 2020. They’re also handy for postpartum and postoperative patients, but a good number of people might not have experienced either of those situations.
I have to admit I was captivated by Kohler’s Stillness Bath, which it describes as “an immersive bathing experience that uses light, water, steam, and aroma to transport you away from the everyday” and to simulate Japanese forest bathing. I’m definitely starting a list of things to purchase if I ever win the lottery.
The CES digital venue continues to remain open through the weekend, so I’ll still be hard at work plugging away through all the emails and the vendors I flagged to visit. Did anyone else attend? What did you think? Leave a comment or email me.
Email Dr. Jayne.