Posts Tagged ‘Philips’

Now the iPad can measure your vital signs

November 18, 2011

How excited do you get playing with your iPad? Would you give up your lunch hour to spend a few precious moments staring into its ten inches of LCD loveliness? Philips thinks there are plenty of us who would, and they have developed the VitalSigns app to provide us with an excuse – if we feel we need one.

You place your iPad on a table, set the app running and then just look at the screen. The iPad’s camera tracks tiny colour changes in your face – undetectable to the human eye – and equates them to heart rate. It also detects the movement of your chest to calculate how fast you’re breathing.

The disclaimer says that the app is strictly for fun – you can email the results or post them to Facebook or Twitter – and that readings are not intended for diagnosis or clinical monitoring or decision making. While this may sound a trifle strange, in the wider world the app is part of an emerging trend of self-measurement. There is, according to a recent article in MIT Review, a growing movement of ‘self trackers’ – fitness fanatics, geek obsessives and the genuinely ill – who are using an array of new gadgets to obtain near-constant feedback on their health. Building on techniques used in sport and hospital intensive care wards, these devices allow the user to monitor, record and analyse different health-related functions.

Of course we shouldn’t be surprised. Smart meters that report back details of our energy use are now old news, even if we haven’t quite got round to installing them yet. The Philips device and similar self-tracking systems are just part of the first wave of technology that feeds data back to us.


Philips launches electronic pill

November 14, 2008
Philips iPill is 11 x 26 mm

Philips Research’s intelligent pill (iPill) for electronically controlled drug delivery

Nowadays it seems just about anything can have ‘i’ added as a prefix and now Philips have added their two penn’orth, this time in healthcare.

The company has announced that they will launch their ‘iPill’ next week at a science conference. This is an electronic pill that can pass through the digestive system, measuring its position by determining the acidity of its surroundings and releasing medicine in a programmable pattern as required. The company envisages its use both as a drug research tool and therapeutically.

This would also seem to have wide-ranging application in the software development industry, say for the intravenous delivery of pizza, but caused me a few problems in terms of this blog. I wasn’t quite sure whether to file this story under the ‘technology’ or ‘lunch’ category.

Philips announces 3-D printing service

September 5, 2008
Shapeways 3-D Example

Shapeways 3-D

Last year I wrote about 3-D printing technology and the prospect of it becoming more widespread thanks to the falling costs of the machinery involved.

As a first sign of what’s to come, Philips have announced their spin-out of public 3-D printing service called Shapeways. The company describes it as “the first online consumer co-creation” service which enables the public to submit computer generated models for manufacture by 3-D printing technologies. The company will make up the design and return to the customer within ten days for around 50-150 USD (about £28-85 ). A video on the website shows the process.

Interestingly, the company is linking the idea with the rise of Web 2.0 user-generated content and crowdsourcing, and are providing an online community where users can upload new designs for printing, as well as view, comment on and customise other people’s designs.

Is this the YouTube of 3-D objects?

Philips’ window on the future

October 26, 2007

I have seen the future and it will be well lit. That’s according to European electronics giant Philips, whose Applied Technologies division invited me to an open day for journalists on Tuesday.

The day featured a tour of mocked-up, every-day scenarios under a general theme of ‘care’, which were designed to demonstrate various technologies and how they integrate with each other. This included a hospital room of the future, a hotel room and a pre-natal clinic, and was followed by a tour of their ‘high street of the future’, in which technologies were shown in various retail and domestic settings. The clever use of light and light-related technologies featured in almost all of these.

The hotel room scenario struck me as being the most impressive in terms of both flashy technology and end-user usefulness. In the scenario, a businesswoman is shown arriving at a hotel for the night. Her room has been fitted with a Daylight Window with Personal Mood display, which the guest controls by standing at the window and moving her arms: there is no computer keyboard or mouse. Philips Daylight WindowBy interacting with the ‘window’ the guest can create an image across its length and breadth and alter that image to let in different amounts and colours of light. In the example I saw it was the branches of a tree, which ‘grew’ across the window and could be made more or less dense, just by the sweeping action of an arm (see the first photo).

If this seems a bit superfluous to you, there is a more practical use of the light technology. Our aforementioned businesswoman, tired, and suffering from stress and jet-lag, is able to sit in a corner Woman using blue light therapyof the window and indulge in a kind of ‘light bath’ (see second photo). Based on research from Chicago’s Northwestern University, which has suggested that such ‘blue light therapy’ can shorten jetlag recovery times, the Philips concept incorporates this idea of the therapeutic effects of light into its vision of the future.

In this scenario, light is being used as a way to make people feel better and enhance their mood. This is quite interesting in as much as it represents a slight fork in the standard route for ambient computing, where the emphasis is often on getting computers to complete or assist with a task such as opening a door. In this scenario, the functionality is new and aspirational.

This strategy may reflect some of the changes that Philips has undergone in recent years. Through reorganisation and shedding of parts of the business, like its silicon chip development wing, the company has refocused on what might be called the ‘softer’ side of technology. It believes that its future growth will come from merging its traditional strengths in areas like medical technologies and lighting into new, ambient solutions that work with users unobtrusively. We are going to see a lot more about the use of light in the next few years.