Donald Jones also wants to drive this revolution. While helping Qualcomm establish its digital health group, he created a $10 million competition to see who could create a real tricorder, the fictional gadget used to diagnose and treat everything from illnesses to gunshots in the TV series Star Trek. Winners will be picked in 2016.
Now as the chief digital officer of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, Jones works with dozens of mainly startup companies already making tricorder-like gadgets or apps for treating diseases such as diabetes or heart disease or asthma or for simply delivering medications in a better way. The sector has become the fastest growing area for venture capitalists and a magnet for crowdsourcing, Jones said.
"We think watches will be a convenient way to interact with medical devices... smart patches are a billion-plus unit opportunity... [and] bodies will be nodes on the Internet," Jones said in a presentation at the Imec event.
Not everyone wants a revolution in medicine.
"Consumers are ready, the real question is whether traditional medicine is ready -- but consumers will push it over the top," Jones said, giving examples of gadgets and apps already attracting millions of users.
Viva la revolution: A sampler of digital medical trials at Scripps.
"When the consumer has transparent information about quality, convenience and ratings for health care providers, governments will have to start responding," he said. But "borders around practicing medicine will blur, and governments will have trouble with it," he predicted.
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