Five TED Talks about Health Technology

Five TED Talks about Health Technology

If you are someone who already enjoys consuming media in video form, then you are probably already aware there is an abundance of great TED Talks on a variety of subjects online. As health technology and health innovation continue to prosper, some great thought leaders have emerged on the TED platform to present on their area of expertise. Below you will find five TED Talks for those who have an affinity for health technology.

Predicting future trends

In his 2012 TED talk, chemist Lee Cronin — a professor at the University of Glasgow — asked whether we could 'app' chemistry. He had been wondering if there was such a thing as a universal chemistry set from which any organic molecule could be built. He was able to answer this question with the help of a 3-D printer. Using chemical inks, it is indeed possible to produce chemical compounds.

Cronin explained the technology that allows us to print our own medications in his talk: Print Your Own Medicine. Cronin also predicts that by using our stem cells and genes we might at some point in the future be able to print our own personalized drugs. In fact, printed drugs are now becoming commercialized. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the first time approved a prescribed medication manufactured through 3-D printing.

Using health technology to biohack

Continuing the topic of personalizing health through digital means, Ellen Jorgensen and her cohorts wanted a place where anyone could go and get more involved with learning about their own biology using technology.

She is one of the founders of Genspace, which is a government-compliant establishment for DIYbio. Genspace, and Jorgensen, are on the forefront of the do-it-yourself biotechnology movement. If biohacking interests you, Jorgensen’s TED video Biohacking — You Can Do It, Too might be of interest.

Exploring humanitarian uses of mobile technology

Today, more people in sub-Saharan Africa have access to a mobile phone than have access to running water. With this in mind, Andrew Bastawrous — an eye surgeon and inventor — started thinking about how to harness the power of mobile technology to improve eye health, especially in less privileged environments. In the TED talk by Bastawrous, he explains how his team developed a portable eye examination kit and replaced bulky and fragile medical equipment with smartphone apps.

Moreover, to determine the reason for vision loss, Bastawrous’ team developed an affordable 3D-printed hardware that can be clipped onto a smartphone and enables a good quality examination of the back of the eye, performed by anyone with minimal training, anywhere in the world.

Similarly, Jorge Soto — a cancer technologist — described how progress is being made in developing an open-source cancer test, which will be a part of a mobile platform and will detect early forms of some cancers in an egalitarian way. Since cancer is still, in most cases, diagnosed only when symptoms develop, Soto’s research could offer a breakthrough and could also help people who have so far not had access to early detection technologies.

The test Soto talks about is reliable and only requires a simple blood sample.

Advancing perceptions of the world

In one of this year’s most sensational TED talks, neuroscientist David Eagleman – who researches perception and brain plasticity – explains the limitations of our perception. In his words, “we are constrained by our biology,” and his research aims to expand our world beyond these constraints and open up new dimensions that are out there.

To unstick us from our limited subjective world, Eagleman and his colleagues devised a wearable device with an interface that runs on cell phones and tablets. The first device, a sensory vest, gives humans new senses and makes them aware of things previously undetected.  The vest translates sound into a pattern of vibrations the human brain can learn how to interpret. Tests on deaf people showed that, over time, people start understanding the language of the vest and hearing the world around them.

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