MINNEAPOLIS At a time when the U.S. is locked in an emotional debate about how to pay for health care, I have parachuted into what is arguably the biggest conference on the planet about the technology to deliver it.
The 31st Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC '09) is the Woodstock of biomedical engineering. At any given time there are as many as 20 different sessions on topics ranging from new forms of imaging to implantable devices and surgical robots.
By the numbers, about 2,000 engineers will attend the five-day event that hosts 249 sessions on 12 broad themes. Around that core, EMBC has organized four full-day symposiums, six half-day forums, five workshops, seven sessions dedicated to the bioengineering profession and dozens if not hundreds of poster sessions.
Oh, and there's an exhibition where sponsors like Medtronic, the Minneapolis native son that pioneered the pacemaker, will put their capabilities on display.
In short, there are presentations here on state-of-art work in every aspect of medical electronics. So coming to EMBC in Minneapolis this year is like visiting nearby Lake Michigan: I will dive in, but I cannot swim its full length or depth.
What I hope to do is spot as many new technology waves as possible, meet some of the people riding them and come away with a few souvenirs in words, pictures and video of bioengineering in the fall of 2009. You'll find them here like late summer post cards from this Bio Med resort.
The good news is I've had the pleasure of attending this roving confab a few times in the last few years—in Cancun, San Francisco and Lyon. I'm no expert, but I've learned a few things about how to deal with the rough surf at this event and where to find the good snorkeling and tidal pools.
I welcome you to join me for this water ride and invite your comments. Bring your own towel and plenty of curiosity.