Thursday, December 13, 2007

LTDC is now 1.

One year ago this week we started Little Devices That Could to simply exchange information between friends who follow and practice the convergence of international development, health technology, and entrepreneurship.

After 2 or 3 posts, we noticed that many (all 99 countries of you) of you were actually reading (prompting us to check our grammar) the blog on a regular basis.

What started out as a very informal experiment has evolved into a wonderful online experience that includes fascinating technologies. Their impact is surpassed only by the amazing people behind them that make it possible despite all odds. The unexpected surprise for us is the real treat in meeting many of them and realizing that there is a great peer group looking at the world through a similar lens.

I am still not versed in all the blogsphere's jargon. For all those folks who added us to their blogrolls, THANK YOU! Special hats off to Anne, Christine, Cat and Aman!

We're looking towards new opportunities and excellent devices in the next few weeks! Thanks for staying on the LTDC channel, we hope to keep those RSS feeds happy!

On behalf of LTDC, we wish you and yours a safe and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

LTDC Goes to Graduate School: Harvard-MIT announce HST 939, Designing and Sustaining Technology Innovation for Global Health

Following a long history at MIT of incredible classes like D-Lab, Developmental Entrepreneurship and S-Lab from Sloan School of Management,the joint program in Health and Technology by Harvard and MIT have announced HST 939: Designing and Sustaining Technology Innovation for Global Health. The class will focus on exploring new ways and avenues of answering global health's most vexing problems at the intersection of business, public health, and disruptive technologies. Hands on participation in real life projects with international community and corporate partners will allow students to experience global health development 2.0 from the start.

The class is the brainchild of HST affiliate Jeff Blander, a social entrepeneur and global health expert, who teamed up with Utkan Demirci, a scientist and inventor at Harvard with a shared focus on global health technologies. Your Truly will participate in the design and instruction of the technology and bottom-up innovation aspects of the class. If my posts have been infrequent lately, I apologize, but the there has been a lot of work to set up some exciting projects which I will be sharing with you shortly.

We are continuing to receive a lot of interest from corporate and foundation sponsors about their own projects and the door is open for continuing collaboration. One of the most exciting aspects of the course is its commitment to cross-institutional collaboration. The current partners include companies, NGOs, and other academic institutions beyond Harvard and MIT. So get ready, in a few months, we'll be highlighting the next little devices that could---and the business report cards that go along with them! Everything starts in Spring 2008, but you can submit your projects now!

Monday, November 5, 2007

RECAP, AWESOME: Medical Technologies, Collaboration, and the New Entrepreneur

Last week, as announced, TiE held a forum at BU called Medical Technologies, Collaboration, and the New Entrepreneur.

What was supposed to be a talk on how to launch a medical device company (most likely Stateside) turned into a great debate on how to launch "market appropriate technologies" from experienced professionals who have been in the space.

I digested most of the relevant points below if you are interested.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Event Alert: Medical Technologies, Collaboration, and the New Entrepreneur

TiE is hosting a neat event at Boston University on health technology and how collaborative efforts have launched a generation of life saving products. More at TiE

Check it out tomorrow (register first) and hopefully I run into you.


Kristian Olson, MD
Program Leader, Global Health Initiative, Center of Integration of
Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT)

Aaron Sandoski, MBA
Managing Director, Norwich Ventures.

Barry Solomon, PhD
Founder, Circe Biomedical Inc.

P Laxminarain, MBA
Worldwide President, Codman, J&J.

Bernard Haffey, MBA
CEO, NDO Surgical.

Jonathan Rosen PhD, MBA
Executive Director, Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship and
Commercialization (ITEC) , Boston University School of Management

Monday, October 29, 2007: 6:30PM – 9:00PM
Networking & Dinner 6:30-7:00PM
Panel Discussion: 7:00-9:00PM

BU School of Management (4th Floor Executive Leadership Center)
595 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA ("B" Green Line Blanford Street Station)

Neat Stuff Round up

Interesresting read round up

Harvard Vaccines for the Poor --- Made in China
A WSJ piece on applications of the research of Dr. John J. Mekalanos who has struck a deal with a Chinese company, while ensuring access to developing countries.

Western Union and GSM Association are gearing up for mobile-to-mobile international money transfers

UNICEF video game
simulates the realities of living in third world. A collabortion with Microsoft resulted in a game kids (and adults) can play to learn what it's really like to make ends meet in Haiti.

Check out the new World Bank channel on YouTube (I found this)

Bovine Innovations for Computing Power

A bovine innovation results in a hybrid power for the OLPC. The project's Arjun Sarwal reports that the group that's developing what was formerly known as the $100 Laptop (now it's called XO), is tooling around with a device that you can propel using cow-power. This is awesome. More at Engadget.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Design Challenge: Crutch purse, the LTDC version

You have a bad fall and all of sudden it becomes so awkward to carry your stuff (cell phone, wallet, laptop, way to many pens and notebooks, textbooks, mp3 player, charger). I am not even going to attempt to describe what our female audience carries but I understand it is often a study in complexity science.

So back the original problem---you're on the mend, and the way to carry your stuff is the Crutch Tote! I don't see room for textbooks, no biggie.

It's easy to see the same challenge apply to a head of household injured and now unable to carry the required items to work. I can live without my mp3 player and the rest of my junk for a few weeks, but if my daily livelihood depends on it, it stops being a matter of convenience.

So here's my challenge for readers who happen to be handy. Come up with a version of the Crutch Tote that addresses requirements for people on the mend who may have to carry items such as trade items, basic paperwork, medicines, and anything you think a citizen of the BOP may want to carry while they are on crutches. Affordable and sustainable design is paramount, as well as a strong sense of style. We'll see if we take it to the next level?

PopTech! 2007: Social Innovation Accelerator

In news about super cool conferences that I miss, NextBillion reports that the folks in Camden have launched a Social Innovation Accelerator.

Their website offers the following criteria, and will start with a software for HIV+ patients called LifeWindows.

The Accelerator evaluates projects which:

• Embody a highly-differentiated, innovative, multi-disciplinary and potentially world-changing approach to a consequential global problems
• Will benefit from the unique skills of the Pop!Tech network
• Have a high multiple of impact
• Amplify the skill-sets of the social innovators involved in doing the work
• Leverage a “bottom up” or extensible community of participants (through open-source licensing, for example)
• Engage the intended community’s participation in the solution
• Have a clear path to becoming a functioning enterprise
• Can be completed in 24-36 months

Sounds like a great concept following other notable efforts, we'll be following them closely to see what other initiatives they hatch.

Hat tip to NextBillion

More at PopTech! 2007

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Have Loctite, Will Fix Tooth (Will not drill!)

(This one is so awesome that I'm going to post it Spanish, too)

This a real salute to all those bathroom surgeons and backyard mechanic trauma specialists, innovators of things like gasoline, the ultimate sterilizer, and alcohol swabs that go beyond the call of duty.

According to the WSJ, a group of maverick doctors in Bethlemen, PA, treated emergency room patients with acute tooth pain (I-haven't-been-to-the-dentists-in-months-pain-and-now-it-really-hurts-like-hell pain) not with fancy lasers, or ultrasound, or drills, but with superglue!

Okay, so you can't get it at Home Depot, because they don't sell Dermabond. However, the wound closure agent marketed by J&J is a close cousin of superglue and Krazy Glue. They share the key ingredient cyanoacrylate which performs the sticky magic.

...the only thing ER docs can usually do on the spot for patients with dental pain is to give them antibiotics and pain pills, which take hours to work and can be debilitating. He called Dermabond “superior to anything we can provide.”

Because it dries so fast, Dermabond doesn’t present a hazard, Hill said. But it’s only a temporary fix, until a patient can see a dentist. It falls out on its own in a few days. That may be a problem for some people, who wind up in the ER in the first place because they don’t have dental insurance and can’t afford to see the dentist.

More at WSJ

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

MacArthur "Genius" Grants Announced

A great list of luminaries have been awarded the latest round of John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Genius grants. Among them, Saul Griffith, co-founder of Squid Labs, Yoky Matsuoka, a developer of advanced prosthetics at the University of Washington, and others. The full list is available at their site. Congratulations!

Monday, September 24, 2007

ForSE 2007: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs

From our friends at TiE
ForSE 2007: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs
November 02, 2007
In partnership with TiE Boston and Desphande Foundation


Friday, November 2, 2007
11:30am - 7:15pm
Boston University School of Management
Executive Leadership Center, 4th Floor
595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215

ForSE 2007 is the first conference dedicated to building a dynamic network of leading entrepreneurs, concerned professionals, investors, and thought-leaders dedicated to social impact. Join us for this inaugural event as we launch a new era in Boston's social venture community.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Add RF into to your next Little Device That Could

We're all about radio controlled syringes and to help us out, Make Magazine has an excellent little crash course on embedded radio controls into projects. Check it out at Makezine

Syringe disposal solution in a soda can

The above design was one of this year's INDEX award winners. The idea is simple and is aimed at helping mass vaccination operations run smoothly by ensuring adequate sharp disposal.

More at Core77

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

IDDS featured in the NYTimes

MIT's IDDS was featured in the Nwe York Times today! Great job everyone!

For those who aren't aware yet, IDDS was a month long event bringing students from around the world in to work on developing world technologies. The result was a fascinating array of projects that included better greenhouse systems, patient tracking systems, and clean water solutions!

The workshop was developed over the last year by Ms. Smith, Dr. Pickar and others after a meeting to discuss a “design revolution” — a shift in focus among companies, universities, investors and scientists toward attacking problems that hamper development in the world’s poorest places.

“Nearly 90 percent of research and development dollars are spent on creating technologies that serve the wealthiest 10 percent of the world’s population,” Ms. Smith said. “The point of the design revolution is to switch that.”

She added: “There are several different places where that revolution has to take place. We started thinking, ‘How do we train engineers so they might start thinking of this as a field of engineering they’d want to pursue?’ ”

More at NYTimes

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Tricorder has arrived (sorta)

Trauma is responsible for about 15% of the global burden of disease according to the WHO. Doctors in Seattle are beginning to play around with a device they might have first seen in Star Trek. Just like the tricorder, the device is being used to stop internal bleeding in the lung area.

In this case, lenses focus the high-intensity ultrasound beams at a particular spot inside the body on the patient's lungs. Focusing the ultrasound beams, in a process similar to focusing sunlight with a magnifying glass, creates a tiny but extremely hot spot about the size and shape of a grain of rice. The rays heat the blood cells until they form a seal. Meanwhile the tissue between the device and the spot being treated does not get hot, as it would with a laser beam.

"You can penetrate deep into the body and deliver the energy to the bleeding very accurately," Vaezy said. Recent tests on pigs' lungs showed that high-intensity ultrasound sealed the leaks in one or two minutes. More than 95 percent of the 70 incisions were stable after two minutes of treatment, according to results published this summer in the Journal of Trauma.

The research is funded by the NIH and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute. We could see one of these tools attached to the end of a robotic arm operating remotely using pre-programmed procedures to save George Jetson.

More at Science Daily

PolyTherics makes generics using fancy molecular footwork

I covered this a while back and Business 2.0 has landed an interview with Dr. Sunil Shaunak, developer of a system to modify the molecular structure of a drug to produce a generic counterpart.

His attitude is certainly very much in line with our beliefs
"What you conventionally do, at the moment, is you make the medicine and test it in Europe and North America, where you have high profit margins, and as prices come down it eventually becomes available in poorer parts of the world," he says. "We've turned the model upside down and said, 'Let's make it available first to the masses and then optimize what we've learned for the rich.'"
The patent liability issues are still out there it will be interesting how his company, Polytherics, navigates the litigation.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fold your own asthma spacer

Via Medgaget:

The Make blog reports the folks at Stanford's Design School and their School of Medicine have made a simple paper spacer for asthmatics. I'd heard of cola cola bottle spacers before, where you simply cut out the end of a cola bottle and use it as a spacer for your inhaler. The paper based sounds even better.

The project was introduced as one of Ashoka's Disruptive Innovations in Healthcare.

The fact that they use origami to do this, makes it pretty neat. I am curious how they got around to the problem of avoiding static cling to prevent the aerosol particle from sticking to the walls.

More at Medgadget

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Idea Generator

Are you stuck trying to find your next design....give this a try

Link at Idea Generator

Oral-lyn: Insulin inhaler

Everyone has heard of Exhubera by now and its huge dry powder inhaler. Other companies are working in similar systems. Oral-lyn is being developed by Generex and comes in an asthma inhaler form factor. It is mist as opposed to a dry powder, which makes it easier to inhale for most people.

You can buy it Ecuador! Yay!

More at Medgadget

Charmr: Great design arrives for diabetic patients

This a great video about a new type of insulin pump. Great industrial design is combined with smart features. Check out the video.

Hat tip to Medgadget

Back in business

We have a stack of posts ready to be released! It's moving season in Boston...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Credit Card tool

Credit card-sized tools are really neat. Brookstone sells a variety of them, but this one, made by BCB Survival USA includes a few thins that others lack such as a butterfly screw wrench, and a 4 position wrench. Wouldn't it be neat to talk to doctors and healthcare workers to find out what their dream credit card sized tool would be? It's cut plastic or metal, which would make fabrication real easy...let me know please.

Some ideas but again, open to suggestions:
- thermometer
- medicut scissor
- epi dispensers

More at Cool Tools

Microinsurance contest

Microinsurance is a very interesting concept. I particularly like the notion that a farmer, for instance, can insure his working hand, for very little money. I know, I know, it's not the total healthcare solution, etc...but still.

There is a competition with a €1000 purse for an idea to communicate what microinsurance is effectively. Nextbillion describes the rules

As (micro) health insurance is difficult to explain, the MIA invites proposals for innovative, intuitive and original ideas to explain the value proposition of health insurance for poor people and grassroots groups. Proposals could include good stories, anecdotes, games, simulations, picture-stories, scripts for video clips or short movies and the like, to explain insurance to persons with no prior insurance experience.

So break out your short stories, claymation, graphic facilitation tools, videos, and give it shot!

more at Nextbillion

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Innovation Democracy vs. the Design Elite

The NYTimes has a good article on user-developed innovations, like the ones on Instructables. It goes beyond just doing a field survey of the different project people are working tries to take a look to the future of tinkers and DIY.

Check it out here.

“Difficult questions are going unasked about who is participating in innovation and on what terms,” says James Wilsdon, director of the innovation program at Demos, a think tank in London.

In that scenario, needed innovations can be overlooked. For example, huge amounts of money are spent on improving Web search engines or MP3 players, while scant attention is given to alternative energy sources. Battling diseases like AIDS or Alzheimer’s — efforts that lobbying groups in wealthy countries help highlight — attract legions of well-financed innovators, while big global killers, like childhood diarrhea and sleeping sickness, are ignored.

Hat tip to Core77

Have Cell Phone, Will Operate

A team of surgeons doing a routine appendectomy in Argentina finished the operation using the glare from cell phone cameras. After a sudden power outage in the Villa Mercedes, the patient's family went around and collected all the cell phones they could find and shined the backlights into the operating area. These guys haven't heard about Freeplay. Still, thumbs up to the Macgyver skills of those Argentine physicians!

More at Reuters

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pharma's Entry into Ethnocentric Drugs Stumbles, or not?

Scientific American has a fabulous article on BiDil, a congestive heart failure drug aimed at African-American's. [I wonder if it works on people from Africa---they didn't mention that in the article].

The approval was widely declared to be a significant step toward a new era of personalized medicine, an era in which pharmaceuticals would be specifically designed to work with an individual’s particular genetic makeup. Known as pharmacogenomics, this approach to drug development promises to reduce the cost and increase the safety and efficacy of new therapies. BiDil was also hailed as a means to improve the health of African-Americans, a community woefully underserved by the U.S. medical establishment. Organizations such as the Association of Black Cardiologists and the Congressional Black Caucus strongly supported the drug’s approval.
The article goes on to cover other drugs such as AIDSVax, which worded its study to include Asian and Black Americans.

News Scan: Patients Sue to Get Into Clinical Trials

BusinessWeek is covering litigation being brought in front of the Supreme Court this year on behalf of patients who want to access pre-approval experimental drugs. The article covers the plight of a father who struggled to get his daughter into two distinct clinical trials (Erbitux and Iressa) and failed. She died at 21. In addition, it covers five examples:

ImClone's Erbitux—Lung cancer, Rejected in 2001, Approved in 2004

AstraZeneca's Iressa—Lung cancer, Approved in 2003, FDA stopped additional patients in 2005

Biogen Idec's Tysabri—MS, Approved in Dec 2004, pulled two months later, reintroduced in 2006 after patients lobbied FDA

Dendreon's Provenge—Prostate cancer (experimental vaccine), unapproved, FDA asked for additional trials this May

Genta's Genasese—melanoma and leukemia, FDA Rejection Letter, company appealing

The Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs filed suit against the FDA in 2003 seeking expanded access to experimental drugs for terminally ill people. The nonprofit group was founded by Frank Burroughs in 2001 after his 21-year-old daughter and only child, Abigail, died of head and neck cancer. She had been turned down for clinical trials for ImClone Systems' (IMCL) Erbitux and AstraZeneca's (AZN) Iressa, both of which went on to win FDA approval. After a long legal battle, a three-judge panel from the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that the case could be heard in district court.

The FDA requested that the court's full, 10-judge panel consider the case, and its decision is widely expected this summer. Whichever side loses is sure to appeal to the Supreme Court. "This could be a landmark civil rights case," Burroughs says. That right, if the Abigail Alliance prevails, would let a terminally ill patient try any drug that has proven safe in early-stage human studies, even if there is no evidence of its efficacy.

More at BusinessWeek

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Neato Roundup

Monday, July 16, 2007

Next Generation PDA for the Blind

This thing sounds awesome. VoiceSense is a new type of PDA aimed at blind users that includes a pocketful of features including:
  • Voice navigation
  • MP3 player
  • MSN Messenger
  • FM Tuner
  • Daisy talking book player
Runs for 12 hours on a full charge and the button you see in the grey are a Perkins-style Braille keyboard. So the price is about the same as business laptop, $1,795, which puts it out of reach of many in developing countries. However, it definitely gives an underserved market much needed indepedence. Maybe they can trick out a version a la OLPC for less than $200.

More at Endgadget and Core77

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Medicine Mondiale

Medicine Mondiale is a New Zealand-based NGO dedicated to making quality medicines and medical technologies available to the poorest of the poor in developing countries. Rather than going down the familiar path of providing AID to countries in Africa and in other parts of the developing world, Medicine Mondiale is striving to create sustainable solutions. Some of the work that they are investing heavily in, includes (but is not limited to) cholera/diarrhoea treatment devices, affordable pediatric HIV/AIDS medication, cataract surgery for people who live in Nepal, and a pharma manufacturing plant in Eritrea.

We would like to applaud Ray Avery, inventor of the Acuset - an example of a device that is not very "sexy" but yet extremely useful in many healthcare settings. The Acuset is an IV dripset, but it has been designed to be re-usable, work with several different IV bags, is external, and provides the ability to easily monitor and control the flow from the pump. Mr. Avery is also the wizard behind humanitarian eye specialist Fred Hollows. One of my favorite Avery quotes "I see the world in terms of what $2 or $10 can do." Read more about Ray and Medicine Mondiale here

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Swarm Intelligence

National Geographic has an interesting article on swarm intelligence. We've covered previous attempts at open sourcing design and crowd sourcing. I remain a bit skeptical on the matter give that hard design is not like software. Nevertheless the article is superb.

"In biology, if you look at groups with large numbers, there are very few examples where you have a central agent," says Vijay Kumar, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. "Everything is very distributed: They don't all talk to each other. They act on local information. And they're all anonymous. I don't care who moves the chair, as long as somebody moves the chair. To go from one robot to multiple robots, you need all three of those ideas."
More at National Geographic
Hat tip to Boing Boing

Monday, July 9, 2007

Sound like you're smart at the facultry BBQ with Seed's Science Cribsheets

An unruly encounter between Cliff Notes and a gifted graphic design team yields Seed Magazine's Cribsheets. Beautifully designed one-pagers that you can print out. Take along a wealth of condensed info on everything your cook out guests wanted to know about Avian Flu, String Theory, Hybrid Cars, and much more. Collect all. Someone should translate them into other languages!

More at Seed

Friday, July 6, 2007

Ponoko: Make your own furniture

I ran into this at the Core77 Blog.

You may be used to sending out your PowerPoint to Kinkos for printing, binding, and shipping. If you had furniture to design, you can now send it to Ponoko where you can
...take advantage of the online tool where designs are uploaded for a local Ponoko factory to churn out and send to you as an actual realization.

Great concept, even better blog

OLPC for fifty bucks in 2 years?

Engadget is reporting that the OLPC Foundation is focusing on a price of $50 once production ramps up for laptop. They are also considering WiMax connectivity, which would blend well with the wireless infrastructure of many of their target countries who have already sold WiMax licenses.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Nerf dart inspired injections

Just when you thought every type of syringe had been invented, enter the Dragon Drug Gun, because one shot a time is so 2006. Shipped with prepackaged drug cartridges, not foam darts, the patent-pending device aims to deliver multiple drug in sequential order with a single trigger pull.

The company says
after a competitive tennis game, a 55-year-old man suddenly collapses. When the EMS team arrives, an electrocardiogram (ECG) reveals a cardiac arrhythmia necessitating multiple emergency medications to be dispensed via numerous syringes and requiring an EMT to notate each medication by name and dosage. With a DRAGON DRUG GUN, a single Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) cartridge inserted into the Gun would rapidly administer the correct medicines in sequential order, while automatically recording what the patient has been given.

No word on FDA approval, but it's fun to see medical technology catch up Super Soakers and N-Strike Fireflies.

More at Dragon Gun

Monday, June 25, 2007

Health Insurance for the Poor

As a result of personal endeavors that seek to bridge the inequality in healthcare, I was recently perusing the web and came across some interesting organizations that are providing health insurance to the rural poor in India. With less than 2% of India's 700 million rural poor insured, there is a huge unmet need. I was pleasantly surprised to find no less than 25 "Microfinance"-like Health Insurance schemes and will attempt to highlight a few of the main players here:

Yeshaswini Co-operative Health Insurance Scheme
was started in 2003 in rural Karnataka. The program originated in the mind of Dr. Devi Shetty, a very wealthy cardiac surgeon and philanthropist who pioneered the spread of telemedicine as well as low cost cardiac operations in India. In addition to his for-profit operations, Dr. Shetty runs a not-for-profit hospital, Narayana Hrudayalaya, in Bangalore.

Yeshaswini aimed to create a large insurance scheme, where the law of large numbers would overcome the risk of an unexpectedly large number of enrollees making claims in the first year, which had caused the financing problems associated with the small schemes of the past. The plan for the Yeshaswini Health Insurance Scheme, was very low premiums with a very large number of participants.

The Scheme covers the farmer co-operator, his spouse and children. The premium contributed per person was Rs 5 per month with Rs 2.5 subsidy from the government of Karnataka in the first year. The Yeshasvini beneficiary is entitled to the following benefits: free outpatient services at a network hospital including consultation fee and registration fee, investigation at special discounted rates, over 1600 listed surgeries done free of cost at network hospitals.

The following charges are covered for any of the surgeries included in the policy: Admission, bed, nursing, anaesthesia, OT, surgeons, cost of consumables and medicines during the surgery and post operative period, surgery-related post and pre-operative investigations. The surgical cover is 100 per cent cashless. 16 lakh farmers had enrolled as members in the first year, 35000 members availed of free consultation at network hospitals, 9039 surgeries were done cashless amounting to Rs 10.53 crores; of these 657 were cardiac surgeries. In the second year, 22 lakh farmers became members of the Scheme of which 82652 members have availed of free outpatient consultation. More than 23000 surgeries have been conducted free of cost.

A good case study of Yeshaswini is available here

Healing Fields Health Insurance Scheme
Members pay Rs 285 ($5 per year;0.003 - less than a cent per day per family member!) annually to cover health insurance (Rs 20,000) for a family of five and Rs 35 for Personal Accident Benefit (Rs 25,000 each on member and spouse) to HDFC Chubb, the insurance company for the scheme. The policy is low-cost, which includes pregnancy and covers 43 listed common illnesses governed by ‘Diagnostic Related Group (DRG) Model’. In case of a hospitalisation, up to 25 percent is paid by the patient as co-payment. The stakeholders, insurer, NGO partner and the hospital together work out a customised process, map and goals, for the success of the scheme.

Arogya Raksha Yojana is a year old and offers: Free out patient consultation, generic medicines at special rates from network hospital pharmacies and Biocare pharmacies, diagnostic tests at discounted rates at network hospitals and approved diagnostic centres, hospitalisation not leading to surgery, surgical treatment for over 1600 types of surgeries, 100% cashless facility for surgical treatment and medical admissions up to the covered amount.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Neat Stuff Round Up: 3D Scanners, Saving the World, Inc and Making a Giant Router out of your Car

THD Blog found an excellent resource on pricing for developing regions.

IFC discusses the NYTimes' feature of Save-The-World, Inc.

Roland Piquepaille
discusses turning cars into wireless nodes. Can it save the world? Maybe if you figure out how to match this up with what the folks at First Mile Solutions are doing, for instance.

Got Milk and a Webcam? Make a 3D scanner, Hack a Day shows you how (with a video).

and a list of free university lectures from all over (hat tip Medgadget).

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Artificial Bone Technology that Grows as Kids Do

Rare bone sarcomas often take limb or life, around 3000 in the US every year---mostly in kids. Doctors at Ohio State University Medical Center have successfully used an experiemental bone device called Repiphysis. The cancerous bone is surgically removed and replaced by an artificial bone. As kidsgrow (here's the neat part) the bone can be expanded using heat and magnets from the outside (watch the video, click on picture). The child gets to keep the limb and live happy.

More at the company's site

Thursday, May 31, 2007

PDAs for Africa

Wow, 'tis been a long time gentle reader. I've been busy with raising funds for my own ventures and competing in a slew of business plan competitions. Now that the circuit has reached it's climactic end, I'm ready to resume the beat on this blog.

Ok, the topic for the day is .. PDAs for Africa. I came across some old weblinks that showcased the work that Skyscape and Satellife were trying to do in Africa. The basic premise of the projects were to improve access to medical information and provide tools that would enable better tracking. The end-customer was the African physician.

Satellife's system is based on 3,000 to 5,000 Palm handhelds given to doctors and health-care workers in the field. The handhelds are used for routine health administration, ordering and tracking medical supplies, delivering new treatment guidelines and communication. In the field, the handhelds will connect to inexpensive, battery-powered Linux servers set up across the country.

Built by WideRay (now Quikker?), a San Francisco startup, the Jack servers have built-in GPRS radios, which afford them an always-on connection to Uganda's near-ubiquitous cell-phone network.

About the size of a thick hardback textbook, the Jack servers act as "caching" servers, storing content sent to them over the cell network from the administration's computers in Kampala. In turn, reports and e-mail received from the handhelds are relayed wirelessly back to the capital. The servers communicate with handhelds using an infrared link. The servers are powered by industrial-grade batteries and a single charge lasts up to a year.

For those of you who are research junkies like me, you can find a 2005 paper detailing the outcomes of Satellife's projects here and an older evaluation here.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Does the New Scientist have a problem with Southern cooking?

I might send this to Leno headlines :) My blog reader had this combination today.

PLoS Debutes PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases


The Public Library of Science is debuting the PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases to its lineup of speciality journals.

This will provide an exciting outlet for scientists from all over in sharing their research. They've also taken steps to extend special considerations for authors in developing countries.

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases offers the following means of support to authors in developing countries:

  • Fee Waiver. We offer a complete or partial fee waiver for any authors who do not have funds to cover publication fees. Editors and reviewers have no access to payment information, and hence an author’s inability to pay will not influence the decision to publish a paper.
  • Editorial Support. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases is organized to provide additional editorial support for authors in developing countries. Papers that are accepted for publication will receive additional support from our editorial staff or professionals from our partner organizations.
  • International Editorial Board. About 40% of our Associate Editors—who handle peer review of research articles—are based in developing countries. These experts understand the issues involved in confronting these diseases in their endemic settings, and they will help to ensure that the journal is a voice for researchers in these countries.
  • Worldwide Readership. As an open-access journal, PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases articles will always be freely available online via the journal Web site as well as through PubMed Central. Our open-access license means that readers are free to download, print, distribute, and translate your work, provided that they give you credit and cite the source. This means that your work will have the broadest possible audience: the entire world. And recent studies suggest that open-access articles are downloaded and cited more frequently.
  • Influence. Your research has the chance to be highly influential. Select papers about neglected tropical diseases published in PLoS journals have been downloaded many thousands of times, have been mentioned in international news sources, and have had an important impact on health policy. For example, a paper in PLoS Medicine led to a UN mandate to integrate control of the NTDs into the UN's malaria control efforts.
more at PLoS NTD


TimeStrip: A timer for pretty much almost anything

The time strip is an innovative timer-on-a-sticker. The timing countdown starts on a pretedermined schedule using a liquid membrane that allows a chemical to travel down a channel when you press an embedded button.

Anyone trying to figure out if their milk is too old, or more importantly, if their vaccine vials have been exposed for too long should look into adding these into their shopping list ($14.50 for a 50 pack). They even have an accidental freezing event indicator. The British company, is obviously doing their homework.


Better than Blood

Popular Science is featuring an article on yet another human blood subsitute---Oxycite. One of the real advantages is that it can carry as much as 50 times as much oxygen as regular blood. That comes in handy in case of a traumatic brain injury.

“It’s like a magnet for oxygen,” says Highsmith, 33, who is 6'2" and bean-thin. He hands me a leftover glass vial of Oxycyte from the fridge, half-filled with the white fluid whose watery consistency reminds me of soymilk. It doesn’t look like much, but when combined with supplemental oxygen, the amount of Oxycyte in a jar the size of an aspirin bottle can carry as much oxygen as the four liters of blood typically pumping through a person’s body.

How much does it costs and when it will out of trials is another question, though.

More at PS

NYTimes: The Road to Curitiba

The New Times Magazine has a great set of stories on Green Architecture. The neat thing is that they have some NICE architecture. The issue features Shigeru Ban, Glenn Murcutt, and the city of Curitiba's progressive urban planning. Betcha didn't know I was an architecture junkie did you?

More at the New York Times

Makerfaire 2007: Wish we were there

Today is the last day of Makerfaire 2007 out west.
Projects, DIY, inventors, makers, and some fellow LTDCers running around getting excited about microcontrollers, chipsets, and welding guns. Beautiful.

More at their site.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Debate: The "Business" of Eradicating Disease

Social Entrepreneurship:
The "Business" of Eradicating Disease
May 16, MIT

The MIT Biomedical Engineering Society hosted a debate between 6 thought leaders in Venture Capital, Public Policy, Intellectual Property, Diagnostic Devices, Global Health Relief, and Pharmaceuticals.

It was a lively discussion, extended at LTDC Conferences and Lectures if you are interested.

Exciting points and questions raised were:
  • Addressing the co-dependency of Medical Delivery, Affordability, and Drug Discovery.
  • Common myths about Big Pharma (nicer than they are given credit for)
  • The unsustainability of American health product subsidies (we pay more) towards developing countries (they don't pay their share).
  • A $100 billion prize for an Alzheimers blockbuster in exchange for licensing?
  • The conversion of fractured markets to rational markets. Where is the tipping point? Can you find it? Can you drive it?
  • The coming age of real and profitable market opportunities in the developing world health markets.
  • Redefining markets so patent holders can use them as a viable tool, not as a punching bag
  • Finding the right technology, but more importantly---timing it
  • If the Global Sales Opp/Product Dev <>
  • Doctors in global public health taking on implementation science: The need to re-engineer the "global health product" from its failed business practices in global
  • Encouraging single-use products aimed at developing world, not just trickle down dual-use technologies: Where's the funding? Where's the vision?

More at MIT

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Next iPod Accessory: A Photodynamic Therapy Plug in Module for Skin Cancer

Medgadget and Wired are reporting on a small non-invasive device by a Scottish spinoff, called Lumicure that aims to treat skin cancer using photodynamic therapy. The basic idea, is band aid coated with special aminolevulinic acid, which is light sensitive as when it interacts with cancer cells. Turn on an attached LED and zap the skin cancer away.

Skin cancer, which typically requires painful or invasive treatments, affects 40 percent of all Americans at some point during their lives. The Lumicure treatment would cost between $200 and $300, compared with roughly $15,000 to $20,000 for the standard therapy. It could also eliminate the need for chemotherapy in some cases.

Lumicure's treatment is a new twist on an existing treatment called photodynamic therapy. It starts with a cream containing aminolevulinic acid, which becomes photosensitive when it comes in contact with a cancer lesion. When exposed to light, the cream interacts with only the cancerous cells, making it a very selective skin treatment.

Lumicure's light source is a low-powered organic light-emitting diode embedded in a small adhesive device. Its battery module -- roughly the size of an MP3 player -- fits easily in a pocket.

The costs savings are huge, they are quoted treatments for around $400 compared to $15,000 in comparable clinical machines. Hey Lumicure, how about a wind-up version for those of us who don't like batteries?

More at Medgadget

Friday, May 11, 2007

Medgadget's Wiki

Go here, and you'll find Medgadget's Wiki---who knew!
I ran into this by accident in a Google search.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Neat Stuff Round Up

THD Blog highlights Stanford's "Rethinking International Health".

Worldchanging covered BusinessWeek's "Design for Social

Anne Swift found SustainLaine, a startup with innovative offerings
that bring awareness of sustainable living. This includes an
animated series, and a national city rankings for sustainability (1.
Portland, 2. Seattle, 3. San Francisco...Boston was 7, yeah!)

She also announces the BiD Challenge 2007---win 20,000 Euros for
your social venture.

And also of note Fast Company's Social Capitalist Awards

Invention2Venture: Affordable Technology

Today's I2V on Affordable Technology at MIT was a fanstastic learning experience. Speakers included:

Amy Smith and Sandy Pentland on approaches to technological development for the developing world; Iqbal Qadir, founder of GrameenPhone, on the need for an intelligent ecosystem of individuals where the right collaboration can thrive; Colin Bulthaup of Squid Labs gave us a tour of their innovation spaces. In addition, the NCIIA had some very interesting programs that are coming up to apply to including their annual E-Teams and newer programs aimed Sustainability.

The panel I participated in discussed how to take your project to the next level for funding, attracting resources, and engaging the decision makers and gatekeepers. More about this at LTDC Conferences and Lectures.

I'm totally wiped out after a week of marathon applications, middle-of-the-night prototyping, and a preparations for a mini vacation! More later!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Hype Cycle

Some devices can over promise, underwhelm, or completely take us by surprise. The Gartner group put together what they call the Hype Cycle.

Some years ago a number of analysts observed there was a pattern of new technology," says Laura Behrens, analyst at Gartner. "Something new would happen, there would be tremendous excitement, followed by disillusionment. Then some of those would eventually become well understood in their markets. "This happened with such regularity that they could do this model."

On a curve of development, the Hype Cycle tries to predict where technologies are heading: into our pockets and living rooms, or into the Betamax graveyard.

It starts with the "technology trigger", where a breakthrough or event generates publicity, exposing the gadget or technology to a wider audience. This is not a Middle Earth battle ground; it is where technology goes to wilt when it fails to deliver its promises. As people start to learn more about the technology, it starts to struggle up the slope of enlightenment. The final stage is the "plateau of productivity" when it becomes mainstream.

So I'm curious to add an LTDC Hype Cycle of our own that try to map where the technologies we so often hear about rest along the curve. To begin:
Solar panels
SMS for health
Micro lending/micro insurance
Telemedical Apps
Wireless for the Last Mile
Drug discovery guided by traditional remedies
and yes, the OLPC

What else?
Does anyone know of a cool Ajax or Flash app where people can mark up our curves?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Aerovax speaks at Lemelson Program's "Invention to Venture: Affordable Technology"

Invention to Venture: Affordable Technology

On Saturday (day after tomorrow), the Lemelson-MIT program will host a day long workshop on affordable tech. It's action packed, well thought out, and Esmeralda and Jose will be speaking on one the panels in the afternoon (about Aerovax, opportunities at BOP, and how to convey that to investors), along with Chuck Lacy, President of Vermont-based Barred Rock Fund and former President of Ben and Jerry's.

Here's the stats:

Workshop Details:

Conference Co-Chairs: Iqbal Quadir and Sandy Pentland

Date: Saturday, May 5, 2007 Time: 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Location: Stata Center (32-155), MIT. The Stata is the weird building in case you don't know where to go.

Mention Aerovax at the entrance and you get a free inhalables measles shot, cherry and orange flavors upon request.

I think this will be fun...there's lots of panels. It will add the my backlog of entries for LTDC.

There is also some cool stuff going on this week---
part of EUREKA FEST.

Hopefully I'll see some you there. Okay, I was kidding about the measles, but you can learn more about it anyways.

Friday, April 20, 2007

International Development Conference at KSG this weekend!

Unlike last time, I didn't forget to register for this!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Handheld Scanner Detects Brain Injuries

In 2004, InfraScan won the Wharton Business Plan competition for a "a cost effective, mobile medical imaging system for detecting brain hematomas". After some substantial pre-clinical funding, they have a device that uses differential near-infrared light absorbtion to tell the difference between the bleeding versus non bleeding parts of the brain. That way you can detect a hematoma even you are hours away from getting to a proper CT scan. The patent protected device is now pending FDA approval.

More at Medgadget

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Tuesday: Global Health Challenge Symposium

THD Blog reminded us about Rice's Global Health Challenge Symposium on Tuesday.
This is part of a larger program at Rice called Beyond Borders:
Beyond Traditional Borders encourages students to transcend geographic and disciplinary boundaries to understand, address and solve health problems in the developing world through the design and implementation of new appropriate health technologies.
Perhaps anyone out there will take some notes for us, sounds like a great event.

A Round Up of Neat Stuff

THD Blog highlights Stanford's "Rethinking International Health".

Worldchanging covered BusinessWeek's "Design for Social Innovation"

Anne Swift found SustainLaine, a startup with innovative offerings that bring awareness of sustainable living. This includes an animated series, and a national city rankings for sustainability (1. Portland, 2. Seattle, 3. San Francisco...Boston was 7, yeah!)

She also announces the BiD Challenge 2007---win 20,000 Euros for your social venture.

And also of note Fast Company's Social Capitalist Awards

Check out US AID's New Health Database

Our friends at World Bank PSD blog has uncovered a very cool health database: The Private SEctor Partnership for Better Health. It's run by USAID as a guide to who's doing what in the public-private global health area.

Some snippets:
Unilever has funded two ambulances that visit remote villages in India. Proctor & Gamble sending the PUR filter to Dominican Republic with the help of Population Services International. Greenstar sells a variety of products aimed at reproductive and mother/baby health in Pakistan.

Enjoy searching here.

Vaccines are so 1955, try filtering the bugs out

Aethlon Medical’s wants get rid of any dangerous biowarfare agents you may have caught by filtering them out of your blood. We’ve come a long way from leeching and bleeding. Their Hemo Purifier filter cartridges employ plant-derived antibodies that adhere to viruses. Their two versions include a device for the ICE about a foot long, and a portable version the size of a large pen. They envision it connecting to the extracorporeal circuits of a dyalisis machine. No word on how long the procedure takes or how much it will cost. If successful, an emeregency drill might sound like “Find the nearest vein start filtering!” instead of “Duck and cover”.

More at Aethlon Medical

Friday, April 13, 2007

Portable ECG monitor

Over the past few months, I have become a little more familiar with the market for critical care monitoring in low-resource settings, so when I saw this new technology, I could not help but think about the potential for its use in the developing world as a low-cost monitor.

You can read more about it here

Tranforming Global Health Recap Recap

The full notes of the TiE Transforming Global Health are now at LTDC Conferences and Lectures. It's much easier to set up a parallel system for lengthy posts than taking up a bunch of space on this one. So here's what you'll see in the expanded version:
  • Dr. Gerald Keusch, Associate Provost for Global Health, talking about new perspectives in tackling Global Health using innovation and political will.
  • MGH's Thomas Burke, MD sharing the wealth of initiatives housed under MGH's Center for Global Health and Disaster Response. Including a project that repurposes an automobile into an isolette for babies (my favorite).
  • Durable and locally manufacturable microfluidic diagnostic devices by the Klapperich Lab at BU.
  • Need to catch up on your C-section skills? Try a few dry runs on a mother-baby simulator by the SIM Group at CIMIT thanks to advanced tissue engineering and software.
  • Zebra Med: An online telemedical consult service that lets doctors volunteer their time and expertise in far away places in as little as 30 minutes at a time
  • A handful of microclinic business models to cover urban, periurban, and rural patients
  • A global pharma-sponsored set of research and aid programs to combat TB, malaria, and leprosy
  • Insightful discussion on the promise of leapfrogging technologies in global health, and attracting young innovators towards to the field.
The full panel included:
Gerald T Keusch, Associate Dean for Global Health, Boston University
Neil Ryder, PhD, Executive Director of Infectious Diseases, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research
Thomas Burke, MD, Director, Center for Global Health and Disaster Response, MGH
Alexis Wallace, Executive Director, Medicine in Need
Vikram Sheel Kumar, MD, co-Founder, President and CEO, Dimagi

They were followed by a number of entrepreneurs active in the intersection of health, technology, and BOP opportunities.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Send in the generics

A company called Generic Medical Devices is now guessed it. Medgaget reports that the company is currently marketing three 510(k) approved surgical instruments. Company CEO Richard Kuntz says they are currently the only one in the space.
Currently, GMD occupies an industry of one, but there is plenty of room for other generic manufacturers. Ideally, each new generic manufacturer would focus on a unique device segment in order to best meet increasing demand and maintain the highest levels of safety and efficacy.

They take on existing devices which are available, have been approved for 510(k) clearance, and then sell them at 2/3 the cost of branded counterparts. What's unclear to me from the article is what their patent position is. Has no one really done this before, or does the pace of surgery go so fast that surgical instruments that were in use 20 years ago ( e.g. screws) are abandoned by the companies that developed them?

More at Medgadget

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Next Big Thing

Survey 700 IEEE fellows and you get an idea of what they think the Next Big Thing Is. Among the questions and answers:

More at BrainBuzz, Anne Swift's pulse on technology.
Tags: ,

Friday, March 23, 2007

Little Devices in the Wind

Hong Kong University's Motorwind have made these tiny wind turbines that work with only 2m/second mini gales. More at Motorwind.

Thanks to AIDG via Twitter.