• Google Wants to Help You Video Chat with Doctors

    “Google docs” may be taking on a whole new meaning. Google has begun a trial connecting people seeking online medical advice to a physician or other medical professional for a free live chat.It is but another example of ways Google has been breaking into the healthcare space.5 Ways Google Could Transform Medtech, and Maybe Cheat Death (Slideshow)Google’s cofounders may have downplayed that they’re interested in turning the tech giant into a healthcare company. But their...
  • Will Your Next Coworker Be a Robot?

    For decades, industrial workers and much of the media have been claiming that robots and automation are stealing their jobs. But in the case of Toyota, the opposite has been happening, with the iconic automaker bringing more humans into the mix, leveraging their creativity and problem-solving abilities to progressively optimize their manufacturing operations. I, Robot image from WikipediaToyota has been a manufacturing operations pioneer for a long time. (Ever hear of lean manufacturing?...
  • Prosthetics That Feel: The Next Generation Arrives

    One of the greatest challenges facing amputees is not only the missing limb, which can be remedied with any simple prosthetic, but the absence of touch and sensation within the prosthetic. Recently, researchers at a university in Ohio developed a new prosthetic system that enables amputees to experience a variety of sensations.Photo of Igor Spetic holding a cherry tomato with his new prosthetic. In a release from Case Western Reserve University news, researchers spoke about their work with Igor...
  • 3-D Printing Is Here, but Where Are the New Materials?

    3-D printing is the hottest new technology on the block. But for medical devices applications, the lack of suitable 3-D printable materials is inhibiting the widespread adoption of this technology. A key obstacle impeding the introduction of new 3-D printable materials has been low demand, rendering commercialization both difficult and expensive. That’s the bad news. The good news is that efforts to develop new 3-D printable materials for medical device applications are assiduously under way....
  • Ebola-Fighting Technologies Come to the Fore

    After Ebola hit U.S. soil September 30, interest in the disease reached a new fervor. The virus is notorious for the severity of its symptoms, which can include internal and external bleeding and prove fatal for many patients. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), no proven treatment for Ebola has yet to be developed.Several companies are responding to WHO call for the life sciences industry to help fight the Ebola crisis. Medical technology innovators have come forward with...
  • Digital Health Funding Hits $3B Mark

    The third quarter numbers for 2014 are in and digital health funding has risen to over $3 billion, up from the $2.3 billion figure reported at the same time last year. According to a report from digital health incubator Rock Health, total 2014 dollars raised has steadily increased through the third quarter, indicating that digital health funding will continue to rise to meet market demands.StartUp Health, a similar organization to Rock Health, also tracks digital health investment. StartUP...
  • How to Navigate Medical Device Radio Regulations

    Medical device companies sometimes seem as though they’re playing catch-up with high tech when it comes to using wireless communications tools. But there may be a pretty simple reason: “There’s a lot more regulatory approvals required,” says Nicholas Abbondante, chief engineer at Intertek.Sure, medical device industry professionals are pretty used to regulations, and the way they vary from country to country. They need to be prepared for a different animal of a problem, however, when adding in...
  • What a Millennial Thinks of Medtech's Future

    From equating success with benefiting the common good to an ease discussing wearables and other mobile health technologies, Arjun Venkatachalam is certainly a member of his generation. And he also happens to be one of the bright, rising engineering stars in the medical device industry.Arjun Venkatachalam was featured in our 30 under 30 roundup of medtech innovators.Venkatachalam received the most nominations for inclusion in Qmed/MPMN’s 30 under 30 roundup of medtech innovators. Now,...
  • Why the Future of Wearables Is Invisible

    Think the future of health tracking will be dominated by wrist-worn and other wearable devices? Think again, says Stuart Karten, founder and president of Los Angeles–based design firm Karten Design.The founder of Karten Design, Stuart Karten works with both the consumer technology and medical device sectors. The future of wearables is invisible, Karten explained at the 2014 Body Computing Conference at the University of Southern California on October 3. “‘Invisible’ means moving technology into...
  • What You Need to Know about Medtech Coatings

    Coatings are a crucial component of many medtech technologies, enabling medical devices to be inserted into tight body spaces. On Wednesday, October 29, Keith Edwards, president and CEO of Biocoat Inc. (Horsham, PA), will speak to a range of issues in a presentation at MD&M Minneapolis titled “Design and Manufacturing Considerations for Medical Device Coatings.” In the following Q&A, Edwards provides a foretaste of the topics he will address in his talk.MPMN: Please give examples of...
  • Paralyzed Rats Walk Thanks to Spinal Stimulation and Software

    Swiss researchers have created a way to precisely control the motor functions of paralyzed individuals through spinal stimulation, Science Translational Medicine reports.The paralyzed rat could walk on its hind legs with support of its upper body. Grégoire Courtine, MD, of the Center for Neuroprosthetic and Brain Mind Institute of the Life Science School at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne (EPFL), and his team used electric stimulation devices to give rats with severed spinal...
  • Activist Investors Erupt at Volcano

    Engaged Capital might want to rename itself “Enraged Capital.” The Newport Beach, CA private equity firm is demanding that Volcano Corp. sell itself.Glenn Welling, founder of Engaged, sent the cardiovascular imaging equipment company’s board of directors a stinging letter, rebuking company executives for overpromising earnings while overcompensating themselves.Volcano recently forecasted falling short of its earnings target again, marking misfires in six of the last seven quarters, according to...
  • How Scotch Tape Is Driving Diagnostics Breakthroughs

    Something pretty similar to Scotch Tape could enable some major innovation in the IVD space—if a young St. Paul, MN–based company called Ativa Medical has its way.Scotch Tape is something people in the Twin Cities know a lot about: The iconic product is made by 3M Co, based on the east side of the metro in Maplewood. And it is sheets of 3M adhesive polymer that provided a savvy solution for producing Ativa’s business card-sized test cards for blood samples.Researchers at the six-year-old...
  • Meet the Material Behind the World's Most Popular Artificial Heart

    A person’s heart beats roughly 100,000 times in one day and more than 2.5 billion times in a typical life span, according to PBS. Imagine the challenge of developing an artificial heart that can match that durability.One of the difficulties was finding a material that is up for the job. Total artificial heart maker SynCardia Systems Inc. (Tucson, AZ) found that segmented polyurethane was ideal for the task. After testing the material against an array of different materials, the company found...
  • 2 Mistakes You Should Avoid with Medical Plastics Sterilization

    With 15 years of experience consulting on polymers in the medical device field, Stephen Spiegelberg has spotted plenty of mistakes to avoid when it comes to sterilizing medical plastics.Here are two major mistakes that Spiegelberg, president of Boston-based Cambridge Polymer Group, says you should avoid:1. Choosing the Wrong Sterilization MethodThere are three major sterilization methods: ethylene oxide, gamma radiation, or electron beam radiation.“The common issue we see with companies new to...
  • Medtech Biocompatibility Testing Is Seeing a Major Shift

    There’s been a change afoot in the medical device industry in the way companies test for biocompatibility—with a shift away from animal tests toward chemical characterization tests in the laboratory, according to Thor Rollins, a biocompatibility expert at Nelson Laboratories. Nelson Labs analyst using a GC-MS to perform chemical evaluations. (Image courtesy of Nelson Labs)“It was only …. in the last year and a half that there has really been a strong push by the FDA to get involved. … It...
  • DIY Engineers Hack Healthcare

    The do-it-yourself (DIY) movement is exploding, and intrepid consumers are developing custom code and hardware for everything from smartphones to televisions. In recent years, the practice has made its way into the medtech industry, as patients began opening the hood on devices like glucose monitors, insulin pumps, hearing aids, and heart monitors just to name a few. These hackers aren’t only tweaking devices for themselves; they’re illuminating the light bulb for the rest of the industry,...
  • Software Upgrades Make This Assembly Robot Ever-More Powerful

    In a way, a two-armed robot called Baxter is similar to a smartphone. The capabilities of the robot can be expanded through software updates. “We have developers coming up with software that enables Baxter to do things we never dreamed of,” says Carl Palme, product manager at Rethink Robotics (Boston), which developed Baxter.For instance, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute (Troy, NY) recently integrated the 165-lb. robot in an electric wheelchair to create an assistive system...
  • Study: Google Glass Improves Surgeon's Performance

    Word on the street is that head-mounted displays like Google Glass are a solution looking for a problem to solve. As one article put it: Nobody knows what it's for.But as it turns out, Google Glass and similar technologies may end up playing an important role in medicine—especially in surgery. In the past couple of years, scores of surgeons have tested out the technology, often with rave reviews. To date, however, hard data were lacking about its benefits in the operating room (OR), however.A...
  • Apple's HealthKit Stumbles Out of the Gate

    Apple’s health-tracking app, known as HealthKit, has finally made its debut after months of hype—but it’s been a pretty rocky start.After its release was delayed from the initial rollout of iOS8, the app was bundled into the ill-fated iOS 8.0.1 software update, which included software glitches for touch ID, the Safari Web browser, and even the keyboard and the phone’s ability to access cellular reception. The new iOS 8.0.2 update should fix those problems, Apple says, while enabling consumers...