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Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Notations From The Grid (Weekly Edition): On A Visionary View of the Future
We hereby present the following two snapshots from Peter Diamandis on a window into the future we look forward to continuing to be truly curious about:
Increasing your healthspan (i.e. making 100 years old the new 60) will depend to a large degree on artificial intelligence.
And, as we saw in last week’s blog, healthcare AI systems are extremely data-hungry.
Fortunately, a slew of new sensors and data acquisition methods — including over 122 million wearables shipped in 2018 — are bursting onto the scene to meet the massive demand for medical data.
From ubiquitous biosensors, to the mobile healthcare revolution, to the transformative power of the Health Nucleus, converging exponential technologies are fundamentally transforming our approach to healthcare.
In Part 4 of this blog series on Longevity & Vitality, I expand on how we’re acquiring the data to fuel today's AI healthcare revolution.
In this blog, I’ll explore:
How the Health Nucleus is transforming “sick care” to healthcare
Sensors, wearables and nanobots
The advent of mobile health
Let’s dive in.
Health Nucleus: Transforming ‘Sick Care’ to Healthcare
Much of today’s healthcare system is actually sickcare.
Most of us assume that we’re perfectly healthy, with nothing going on inside our bodies, until the day we travel to the hospital writhing in pain only to discover a serious or life-threatening condition.
Chances are that your ailment didn’t materialize that morning; rather, it’s been growing or developing for some time. You simply weren’t aware of it.
At that point, once you’re diagnosed as “sick,” our medical system engages to take care of you.
What if, instead of this retrospective and reactive approach, you were constantly monitored, so that you could know the moment anything was out of whack?
Better yet, what if you more closely monitored those aspects of your body that your gene sequence predicted might cause you difficulty? Think: your heart, your kidney, your breasts.
Such a system becomes personalized, predictive and possibly preventative.
While not continuous — that will come later, with the next generation of wearable and implantable sensors — the Health Nucleus was designed to ‘digitize’ you once per year to help you determine whether anything is going on inside your body that requires immediate attention.
The Health Nucleus visit provides you with the following tests during a half-day visit:
Whole genome sequencing (30x coverage)
Whole body (non-contrast) MRI
Brain magnetic resonance imaging/angiography (MRI/MRA)
CT (computed tomography) of the heart and lungs
Coronary artery calcium scoring
Continuous cardiac monitoring
Clinical laboratory tests and metabolomics
In late 2018, HLI published the results of the first 1,190 clients through the Health Nucleus.
The results were eye-opening — especially since these patients were all financially well-off, and already had access to the best doctors.
Following are the physiological and genomic findings in these clients who self-selected to undergo evaluation at HLI’s Health Nucleus.
Physiological Findings [TG]
2 percent had previously unknown tumors detected by MRI
2.5 percent had previously undetected aneurysms detected by MRI
8 percent had cardiac arrhythmia found on cardiac rhythm monitoring, not previously known
9 percent had moderate-severe coronary artery disease risk, not previously known
30 percent had elevated liver fat, not previously known
Genomic Findings [TG]
24 percent of clients uncovered a rare (unknown) genetic mutation found on WGS
63 percent of clients had a rare genetic mutation with a corresponding phenotypic finding
In summary, HLI’s published results found that 14.4 percent of clients had significant findings that are actionable, requiring immediate or near-term follow-up and intervention.
Long-term value findings were found in 40 percent of the clients we screened.
Long-term clinical findings include discoveries that require medical attention or monitoring but are not immediately life-threatening.
The bottom line: most people truly don’t know their actual state of health.
The ability to take a fully digital deep dive into your health status at least once per year will enable you to detect disease at Stage 0 or Stage 1, when it is most curable.
Sensors, Wearables and Nanobots
Wearables, connected devices and quantified self apps will allow us to continuously collect enormous amounts of useful health information.
Wearables like the Quanttus wristband and Vital Connect can transmit your electrocardiogram data, vital signs, posture and stress levels anywhere on the planet.
In April 2017, we were proud to grant $2.5 million in prize money to the winning team in the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, Final Frontier Medical Devices.
Using a group of noninvasive sensors that collect data on vital signs, body chemistry and biological functions, Final Frontier integrates this data in their powerful, AI-based DxtER diagnostic engine for rapid, high-precision assessments.
Their engine combines learnings from clinical emergency medicine and data analysis from actual patients.
Google is developing a full range of internal and external sensors (e.g. smart contact lenses) that can monitor the wearer’s vitals, ranging from blood sugar levels to blood chemistry.
In September 2018, Apple announced its Series 4 Apple Watch, including an FDA-approved mobile, on-the-fly ECG.
Granted its first FDA approval, Apple appears to be moving deeper into the sensing healthcare market.
Further, Apple is reportedly now developing sensors that can non-invasively monitor blood sugar levels in real time for diabetic treatment. IoT-connected sensors are also entering the world of prescription drugs.
Last year, the FDA approved the first sensor-embedded pill, Abilify MyCite.
This new class of digital pills can now communicate medication data to a user-controlled app, to which doctors may be granted access for remote monitoring.
Perhaps what is most impressive about the next generation of wearables and implantables is the density of sensors, processing, networking and battery capability that we can now cheaply and compactly integrate.
Take the second-generation OURA ring, for example, which focuses on sleep measurement and management.
The OURA ring looks like a slightly thick wedding band, yet contains an impressive array of sensors and capabilities, including:
2 infrared LED
1 infrared sensor
3 temperature sensors
a 6-axis gyro
a curved battery with a 7-day life
the memory, processing and transmission capability required to connect with your smartphone
Disrupting Medical Imaging Hardware
In 2018, we saw lab breakthroughs that will drive the cost of an ultrasound sensor to below $100, in a packaging smaller than most bandages, powered by a smartphone.
Dramatically disrupting ultrasound is just the beginning.
This year at Abundance 360, legendary inventor Dr. Mary Lou Jepsen shared her latest Moonshot during our Success to Significance module.
She explored how her company OpenWater plans to disrupt current medical imaging technology. Its stated vision:
“...changing how we read and write our bodies and brains — [leveraging] important inventions in opto-electronic and holographic systems, using red and benign near-infrared light, which penetrate our flesh and bones. The goal is to use these technologies to build better, faster and cheaper solutions in healthcare — for strokes, cancer and many diseases, all working non-invasively — without opening the body or brain.”
If you’d like to hear more from Mary Lou Jepsen at A360, you can access her keynote when you sign up for Abundance Digital at this link.
Nanobots & Nanonetworks
While wearables have long been able to track and transmit our steps, heart rate and other health data, smart nanobots and ingestible sensors will soon be able to monitor countless new parameters and even help diagnose disease.
Some of the most exciting breakthroughs in smart nanotechnology from the past year include:
Researchers from the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) demonstrated artificial microrobots that can swim and navigate through different fluids, independent of additional sensors, electronics or power transmission.
Researchers at the University of Chicago proposed specific arrangements of DNA-based molecular logic gates to capture the information contained in the temporal portion of our cells’ communication mechanisms. Accessing the otherwise-lost time-dependent information of these cellular signals is akin to knowing the tune of a song, rather than solely the lyrics.
MIT researchers built micron-scale robots able to sense, record, and store information about their environment. These tiny robots, about 100 micrometers in diameter (approximately the size of a human egg cell), can also carry out preprogrammed computational tasks.
Engineers at University of California, San Diego developed ultrasound-powered nanorobots that swim efficiently through your blood, removing harmful bacteria and the toxins they produce.
But it doesn’t stop there.
As nanosensor and nanonetworking capabilities develop, these tiny bots may soon communicate with each other, enabling the targeted delivery of drugs and autonomous corrective action.
The OURA ring and the Series 4 Apple Watch are just the tip of the spear when it comes to our future of mobile health. This field, predicted to become a $102 billion market by 2022, puts an on-demand virtual doctor in your back pocket.
Step aside, WebMD.
In true exponential technology fashion, mobile device penetration has increased dramatically, while image recognition error rates and sensor costs have sharply declined.
As a result, AI-powered medical chatbots are flooding the market; diagnostic apps can identify anything from a rash to diabetic retinopathy; and with the advent of global connectivity, mHealth platforms enable real-time health data collection, transmission and remote diagnosis by medical professionals.
Already available to residents across North London, Babylon Health offers immediate medical advice through AI-powered chatbots and video consultations with doctors via its app.
Babylon now aims to build up its AI for advanced diagnostics and even prescription. Others, like Woebot, take on mental health, using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in communications over Facebook Messenger with patients suffering from depression.
In addition to phone apps and add-ons that test for fertility or autism, the now-FDA-approved Clarius L7 Linear Array Ultrasound Scanner can connect directly to iOS and Android devices and perform wireless ultrasounds at a moment’s notice.
Next, Healthy.io, an Israeli startup, uses your smartphone and computer vision to analyze traditional urine test strips — all you need to do is take a few photos.
With mHealth platforms like ClickMedix, which connects remotely located patients to medical providers through real-time health data collection and transmission, what’s to stop us from delivering needed treatments through drone delivery or robotic telesurgery?
Welcome to the age of smartphone-as-a-medical-device.
With these DIY data collection and diagnostic tools, we save on transportation costs (time and money), and time bottlenecks.
No longer will you need to wait for your urine or blood results to go through the current information chain: samples sent to the lab, analyzed by a technician, results interpreted by your doctor, and only then relayed to you.
Just like the “sage-on-the-stage” issue with today’s education system, healthcare has a “doctor-on-the-dais” problem.
Current medical procedures are too complicated and expensive for a layperson to perform and analyze on their own.
The coming abundance of healthcare data promises to transform how we approach healthcare, putting the power of exponential technologies in the patient’s hands and revolutionizing how we live.
Each week alone, an estimated 1.3 million people move into cities, driving urbanization on an unstoppable scale.
By 2040, about two-thirds of the world’s population will be concentrated in urban centers. Over the decades ahead, 90 percent of this urban population growth is predicted to flourish across Asia and Africa.
Already, 1,000 smart city pilots are under construction or in their final urban planning stages across the globe, driving forward countless visions of the future.
As data becomes the gold of the 21st century, centralized databases and hyper-connected infrastructures will enable everything from sentient cities that respond to data inputs in real time, to smart public services that revolutionize modern governance.
Connecting countless industries — real estate, energy, sensors and networks, transportation, among others — tomorrow’s cities pose no end of creative possibilities and stand to completely transform the human experience.
In this blog, we’ll be taking a high-level tour of today’s cutting-edge urban enterprises involved in these three areas:
Hyperconnected urban ecosystems that respond to your data
Smart infrastructure and construction
Self-charging green cities
Let’s dive in!
Smart Cities that Interact with Your Data
Any discussion of smart cities must also involve today’s most indispensable asset: data.
As 5G connection speeds, IoT-linked devices and sophisticated city AIs give birth to trillion-sensor economies, low latencies will soon allow vehicles to talk to each other and infrastructure systems to self-correct.
Even public transit may soon validate your identity with a mere glance in any direction, using facial recognition to charge you for individualized travel packages and distances.
As explained by Deloitte Public Sector Leader Clare Ma, “real-time information serves as the ‘eye’ for urban administration.”
In most cities today, data is fragmented across corporations, SMEs, public institutions, nonprofits, and personal databases, with little standardization.
Yet to identify and respond to urban trends, we need a way of aggregating multiple layers of data, spanning traffic flows, human movement, individual transactions, shifts in energy usage, security activity, and almost any major component of contemporary economies.
Only through real-time analysis of information flows can we leverage exponential technologies to automate public services, streamlined transit, smarter security, optimized urban planning and responsive infrastructure.
And already, cutting-edge cities across the globe are building centralized data platforms to combine different standards and extract actionable insights, from smart parking to waste management.
Take China’s Nanjing, for instance.
With sensors installed in 10,000 taxis, 7,000 buses and over 1 million private vehicles, the city aggregates daily data across both physical and virtual networks. After transmitting it to the Nanjing Information Center, experts can then analyze traffic data, send smartphone updates to commuters and ultimately create new traffic routes.
Replacing the need for capital-intensive road and public transit reconstruction, real-time data from physical transit networks allow governments to maximize value of preexisting assets, saving time and increasing productivity across millions of citizens.
But beyond traffic routing, proliferating sensors and urban IoT are giving rise to real-time monitoring of any infrastructural system.
Italy’s major rail operator Trenitalia has now installed sensors on all its trains, deriving real-time status updates on each train’s mechanical condition. Now capable of calculating maintenance predictions in advance of system failure, transit disruptions are becoming a thing of the past.
Los Angeles has embedded sensors in 4,500 miles worth of new LEDs (replacing previous streetlights). The minute one street bulb malfunctions or runs low, it can be fixed near-immediately, forming part of a proactive city model that detects glitches before they occur.
And Hangzhou, home to e-commerce giant Alibaba, has now launched a “City Brain” project, aiming to build out one of the most data-responsive cities on the planet.
With cameras and other sensors installed across the entire city, a centralized AI hub processes data on everything from road conditions to weather data to vehicular collisions and citizen health emergencies.
Overseeing a population of nearly 8 million residents, Hangzhou’s City Brain then manages traffic signals at 128 intersections (coordinating over 1,000 road signals simultaneously), tracks ambulances en-route and clears their paths to hospitals without risk of collision, directs traffic police to accidents at record rates, and even assists city officials in expedited decision-making. No more wasting time at a red light when there is obviously no cross traffic or pedestrians.
Already, the City Brain has cut ambulance and commuter traveling times by half. And as reported by China’s first AI-partnered traffic policeman Zheng Yijiong, “the City Brain can detect accidents within a second” allowing police to “arrive at [any] site [within] 5 minutes” across an urban area of over 3,000 square miles.
But beyond oversight of roads, traffic flows, collisions and the like, converging sensors and AI are now being used to monitor crowds and analyze human movement.
Companies like SenseTime now offer software to police bureaus that can not only identify live faces, individual gaits and car license plates, but even monitor crowd movement and detect unsafe pedestrian concentrations.
Some researchers have even posited the use of machine learning to predict population-level disease spread through crowd surveillance data, building actionable analyses from social media data, mass geolocation and urban sensors.
Yet aside from self-monitoring cities and urban AI ‘brains,’ what if infrastructure could heal itself on-demand. Forget sensors, connectivity and AI — enter materials science.
The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates a $542.6 billion backlog needed for U.S. infrastructure repairs alone.
And as I’ve often said, the world’s most expensive problems are the world’s most profitable opportunities.
Enter self-healing construction materials.
First up, concrete.
In an effort to multiply the longevity of bridges, roads, and any number of infrastructural fortifications, engineers at Delft University have developed a prototype of bio-concrete that can repair its own cracks.
Mixed in with calcium lactate, the key ingredients of this novel ‘bio-concrete’ are minute capsules of limestone-producing bacteria distributed throughout any concrete structure. Only when the concrete cracks, letting in air and moisture, does the bacteria awaken.
Like clockwork, the bacteria begins feeding on surrounding calcium lactate as it produces a natural limestone sealant that can fill cracks in a mere three weeks — long before small crevices can even threaten structural integrity.
As head researcher Henk Jonkers explains, “What makes this limestone-producing bacteria so special is that they are able to survive in concrete for more than 200 years and come into play when the concrete is damaged. […] If cracks appear as a result of pressure on the concrete, the concrete will heal these cracks itself.”
Yet other researchers have sought to crack the code (no pun intended) of living concrete, testing everything from hydrogels that expand 10X or even 100X their original size when in contact with moisture, to fungal spores that grow and precipitate calcium carbonate the minute micro-cracks appear.
But bio-concrete is only the beginning of self-healing technologies.
As futurist architecture firms start printing plastic and carbon-fiber houses, engineers are tackling self-healing plastic that could change the game with economies of scale.
Plastic not only holds promise in real estate on Earth; it will also serve as a handy material in space. NASA engineers have pioneered a self-healing plastic that may prove vital in space missions, preventing habitat and ship ruptures in record speed.
The implications of self-healing materials are staggering, offering us resilient structures both on earth and in space.
One additional breakthrough worth noting involves the magic of graphene.
Perhaps among the greatest physics discoveries of the century, graphene is composed of a 2D honeycomb lattice over 200X stronger than steel, yet remains an ultra-thin one atom thick.
While yet to come down in cost, graphene unlocks an unprecedented host of possibilities, from weather-resistant and ultra-strong coatings for existing infrastructure, to multiplied infrastructural lifespans. Some have even posited graphene’s use in the construction of 30 km tall buildings.
And it doesn’t end there.
As biomaterials and novel polymers will soon allow future infrastructure to heal on its own, nano- and micro-materials are ushering in a new era of smart, super-strong and self-charging buildings.
Revolutionizing structural flexibility, carbon nanotubes are already dramatically increasing the strength-to-weight ratio of skyscrapers.
But imagine if we could engineer buildings that could charge themselves… or better yet, produce energy for entire cities, seamlessly feeding energy to the grid.
As exponential technologies across energy and water burst onto the scene, self-charging cities are becoming today’s testing ground for a slew of green infrastructure pilots, promising a future of self-sufficient societies.
In line with new materials, one hot pursuit surrounds the creation of commercializable solar power-generating windows.
In the past several years, several research teams have pioneered silicon nanoparticles to capture everyday light flowing through our windows. Little solar cells at the edges of windows then harvest this energy for ready use.
Scientists at Michigan State, for instance, have developed novel “solar concentrators.” Capable of being layered over any window, these solar concentrators leverage non-visible wavelengths of light — near infrared and ultraviolet — pushing them to those solar cells embedded at the edge of each window panel.
Rendered entirely invisible, such solar cells could generate energy on almost any sun-facing screen, from electronic gadgets to glass patio doors to reflective skyscrapers.
And beyond self-charging windows, countless future city pilots have staked ambitious goals for solar panel farms and renewable energy targets.
Take Dubai’s “Strategic Plan 2021,” for instance.
Touting a multi-decade Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, launched by UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 2015, Dubai aims to gradually derive 75 percent of its energy from clean sources by 2050.
With plans to launch the largest single-site solar project on the planet by 2030, boasting a projected capacity of 5,000 megawatts, Dubai further aims to derive 25 percent of its energy needs from solar power in the next decade.
And in the city’s “Strategic Plan 2021,” Dubai aims to soon:
3D-print 25 percent of its buildings;
Make 25 percent of transit automated and driverless;
Install hundreds of artificial “trees,” all leveraging solar power and providing the city with free WiFi, info-mapping screens, and charging ports;
Integrate passenger drones capable of carrying individuals to public transit systems;
And drive forward countless designs of everything from underwater bio-desalination plants to smart meters and grids.
A global leader in green technologies and renewable energy, Dubai stands as a gleaming example that any environmental context can give rise to thriving and self-sufficient eco-powerhouses.
This is one of the reasons on March 26 & 27th, 2019 I’m holding a 2-day Abundance360 program with the leadership and CEOs of Dubai and the region. Find info here if you’re interested.
But Dubai is not alone, and others are quickly following suit.
Leading the pack of China’s 500 smart city pilots, Xiong’an New Area (near Beijing) aims to become a thriving economic zone powered by 100 percent clean electricity.
And just as of this December, 100 U.S. cities are committed and on their way to the same goal.
Cities as Living Organisms
As new materials forge ahead to create pliable and self-healing structures, green infrastructure technologies are exploding into a competitive marketplace.
Aided by plummeting costs, future cities will soon surround us with self-charging buildings, green city ecosystems, and urban residences that generate far more than they consume.
And as 5G communications networks, proliferating sensors and centralized AI hubs monitor and analyze every aspect of our urban environments, cities are fast becoming intelligent organisms, capable of seeing and responding to our data in real time.
In our next installation on the future of cities, I’ll be exploring smart services and responsive urban governance, a new digital layer enabled by the Spatial Web, and the rise of mega- and micro-cities alike.
We leave you with this:
POWER PATENT / BY KRISTIN HOUSER
US Military Files Patent for Room-Temperature Superconductor
The U.S. military may be honing in on one of the most sought-after discoveries in physics. On Thursday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office made public a Navy scientist’s patent application for a room-temperature superconductor — and if the device works as described, it could radically change everything from transportation to computing.