I’ve been thinking a lot about the man/machine question. The question was raised initially by Ray Kurzweil when he said, “We are a human-machine civilization. Everybody has been enhanced with computer technology…they’re really part of who we are” (see We’ll Accept Robots As Human – And Become Immortal As Human-Machines all members).
This question has invaded many aspects of life. The world of sports is a perfect illustration of the complexities. We have the fading of the man/machine interface with cosmetic and auxiliary drugs. There is the whole concept of cosmetic neurology (see Is Cosmetic Neurology the Behavioral Health Business of the Future? The Controversy Over Drugs That Build “Mental Muscle”). And, all the issues around the use of chemical substances to augment our human performance.
What started with Timothy Leary and LSD (see biography, Timothy Francis Leary) now is the subject of debate with Alex Rodriguez and Lance Armstrong. And while the issue of “chemicals” is routine, we have the now-infamous Oscar Pistorius and his artificial legs competing in the Olympics with lots of debate about whether this enhanced man has an unnatural advantage (see Pistorius’ story great, but fallout from his running could ruin the Olympics and London 2012 Olympics: Games legend Michael Johnson believes Oscar Pistorius has an ‘unfair advantage’).
But now this man-machine connection is even closer. In a recent blog for The Washington Post, author Ezra Klein highlight “a minuscule implant that measures various blood chemicals and sends the results, via Bluetooth, to your smart phone” and offers health professionals a chance to (in the words of Klein), become proactive instead of reactive (see This gadget makes our health-care projections obsolete).
The future for these kinds of devices seems bright – there was an estimated $110 billion in sales in 2011, with per capita spending at $339 (see Market Report: Medical Device Market Stays Steady in 2012). And, there were nearly 30 million wearable wireless mHealth devices (rembedded sensors that can be worn on or attached to the body) shipped internationally in 2012 (see About 30 Million Wearable Mhealth Devices Shipped In 2012, 37% More Than In 2011). This increase is 37% more than the 20.8 million shipped the 2011 – a trend that is expected to continue at a rate of 40% annually through 2017.
For provider organization management teams, the world of devices is a new market opportunity. A little early now, but an emerging market. Here is some of our recent coverage of technologies you should consider:
Sound too sci-fi and far-fetched for you? Just think of fifty years ago. What would your predecessor have thought of hip implants, artificial hearts, “new” knees, and 24-7 contact lenses? The future is probably now.
For another free resource, see: Are You (& Your Tech Managers) Ready For BYOD? all members