Wearables went mainstream

The humble pedometer. Believe it or not, it has been around since 1780.

But this decade saw a huge investment in wearable health and fitness tech, and the fitness tracker shot from the margins firmly into the mainstream. Not only step count, wearables can now tell you how long and how well you slept, your heart rate, and how many calories you’ve burned each day.

At the forefront of this revolution was undoubtedly FitBit, who launched their first wrist-worn tracker in 2013. Today, their name is almost synonymous with the category.

In a time that healthcare systems increasingly struggled under the demands of modern lifestyles, the tracker revolution was undoubtedly helpful. As a medical communications agency we think anything that helps people take a more active and engaged role in their health is a brilliant thing.

Limbs turned bionic

Though the first bionic limb was fitted in 1993, it was in the 2010s that bionic limbs took leaps and bounds with regards to mobility, intuitiveness and realism.

Lightweight and affordable, bionic limbs these days are now a realistic option for people who have lost hands, feet, arms or legs.

Leading the way ­– we’re pleased to say – are Open Bionics from our lovely city of Bristol. In 2018 they released the Hero Arm. It has multi-grip functionality, and is equipped with vibrations, beepers and lights to provide wearers with notifications about what they are touching.

And amazingly, it’s the world’s first medically certified 3D-printed bionic arm. Which leads us nicely on to…

Printing went 3D

After many years of refining and development, 3D printing exploded onto the tech scene in the 2010s.

The current medical applications of 3D printing have surpassed even our expectations. Not only can we print pills and prosthetic limbs on a large scale to a high standard, researchers are currently refining the bio-printing of heart, kidney and liver structures for transplantation. Incredible, incredible stuff.

One of our favourite 3D technologies, that launched in 2016, are Parsee glasses. A non-profit endeavour to help blind people live a full, rich life, Parsee glasses are fitted with an IP camera that can identify what it is sees and a voice tells the wearers through a small headphone attached to the frames.

Autism embraced neurofeedback

One of our brilliant clients, Neurotech, have created what we think is one the decade’s most impressive medtech devices: the Mente autism headband.

It’s the world’s first and only personalised neurofeedback therapy devices that is clinically proven to help children on the austism spectrum to self-regulate their mood and ability to pay attention.

Founded on the basis of brainwave entertainment, binural beats are tailored continually to the user’s live EEG reading. From only 10 minutes wear-time a day, Mente can calm users out of anxiety and frustration. The case studies we’ve worked on show amazing results.

Healthcare gained artificial intelligence

According to seminal journal article Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: Past, Present and Future (which is thoroughly worth a read), artificial intelligence is bringing a paradigm shift to healthcare, even fuelling active discussions about whether AI doctors will eventually replace human physicians.

Increasing availability of healthcare data, alongside rapid development of analytic methods, has enabled this decade’s emergence of successful healthcare AI – especially in screening and diagnostic imaging, and treatment assignment.

Even more so than the fitness trackers we featured earlier, diagnostic AI can help ease the pressure on over-burdened healthcare professionals and systems. IBM are currently doing brilliant things with Watson, do go and check it out.

It’s fair to say that the 2010s saw technology advance at faster speeds than ever before, and the 20s show signs of being even faster still. As a medical communications agency, we’re excited to see how many lives will be saved and improved in the next ten years.