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.