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Big Ideas – Optics and Healthcare

By Jim Warren

Growing up in Florida, my relatives to the north were jealous when we talked about going to the beach as we took full advantage of soaking up the sun. A few decades later and all that fun in the sun has taken its toll on those of us that did not properly protect yourself. And while cancer seems to be everywhere, basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, the two most common forms of skin cancer, are highly curable if detected early and treated properly. It is not uncommon to hear of folks getting pieces cut away and it is scary to hear when someone has died from skin cancer. Surprisingly, not everyone notices theses blemishes. The changes are subtle, sometimes occurring on parts of your body such as your back, that you don’t see every day.

The new iPhone has the capability of facial recognition and the associated mapping capability has real potential in healthcare. The associated IR technology, as it has already been shown in several demo apps, can measure angles, lengths and depth with shocking accuracy. So, could that technology be integrated into our smart home to offer early detection of skin cancer? The easiest method is to have the same photo take each day from the same position to allow mapping. Adding that camera technology into an already existing mirror and it becomes a non-invasive part of everyday life. 

And if we are talking about mapping and tracking changes, what would it take to notice a decay spot in your teeth if you toothbrush was enabled with a camera for a quick scan before you brush? Comparative scanning of your mouth could allow your dentist to identify degradation of enamel, gum swelling indicating impending gingivitis, cavities, or even shifting, that, if left unattended can cause serious complications. These small changes, while tough to identify without a trained eye, could be captured daily via optics tracking.

With the expansion of the optics space, cameras are smaller, sharper and now more sensitive than ever. We are closing in on hand-held scanning technology in the form factor of a mobile phone and available to just about anyone. The virtual-reality, augmented-reality and mixed-reality markets have begun to establish themselves. We can expect the pricing of these technologies to decrease as well as knowledge of applications to become more prolific.

As with skin cancer, early detection of any disease often leads to a quicker and easier recovery. With these enabling technologies, what other apps and solutions might lead to earlier detection? What diseases and afflictions could be battled by current and emerging technologies? Do you have a partner who can make your dreams and these devices come to life? Jabil’s Blue Sky Centers have as many answers as you may have questions and might just be the incubator for the next big idea. After all, what good is the next big idea if it cannot get to the consumer or patient?

We love big ideas, and we also know what it takes to innovate, manufacture and deliver those big ideas.