With the UK’s NHS Contract Tracing app being tested in the Isle of Wight this week, the BBC ran a story on how the app works in the evening news today. While the lovely graphics illustrated how the app worked, the story conveniently forgot to mention that all the contact data collected goes back to a central database.
Unlike much of the free world, instead of adopting the Google-Apple decentralised approach, the NHS has gone ahead with its plans to base its tracking on a central database – there’s more at The Register and The Guardian newspaper. Simplistically, while both versions use Bluetooth proximity to detect others nearby, in the Google-Apple model only the phones know with whom you have been in contact. In the NHS version, the contact data is passed back to a central server for contact matching. This is manna from heaven for a UK government which has a reputation for increasing levels of privacy abuse.
So it’s all very handy then that the BBC omitted to mention that all the app users’ contact tracing information, which will likely include location data, will be neatly shuffled back to a central server for review and matching by the NHS. Yes, it’s anonymised but it doesn’t take much to figure out who someone is if night-after-night they go back to the same address.
The programme is here but I’m not sure how long it will stay online for or if it’s available worldwide. Look at around the 7 minutes 45 seconds. There’s no mention of the central database in either the narrative or the infographics.
Sorry, NHS, I’ll not be downloading your app. BBC, stop lying by omission.
Update 4/5/20: The BBC has produced a more balanced article here.
With the advances in medical sciences and technology, there’s often no longer the need to “Send it to the lab, stat!” to get up-to-date info on blood chemistry. Soon, readings will be given at point of care in a few minutes, if not seconds. Todd consults with Brian on their latest blood diagnostic device.
Apollo Medical Devices has been working with Case Western Reserve University in Ohio to develop a point of care blood diagnostic unit that uses a drop of blood to give information in seconds on eight key indicators such as sodium, potassium, pH and blood oxygen.
The new devices should be in production with 12-18 months and cost will be in line with industry norms for the test.
Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.
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As with much of the developed world, life expectancy in the Northern Ireland has increased considerably in the last few decades. With this growth, people are now living with long-term medical conditions. For those 60-69 years old, more than 50% of the population will have at least one medical condition. For 70-79 years old, 50% will have two or more medical problems. We might be living longer, but we’re sicker.
Medication can help with many conditions, but medicine only works if it’s taken and multiple conditions can lead to a bewildering array of pills that need to be taken on a schedule. Trays with Monday-Sunday and am/pm can help but it’s all too easy to make a mistake.
PillPacPlus provide a service that helps with this increasing problem. Instead of giving people many boxes with each box containing a single drug, pharmacies can now dispense medications in sachets, with each one containing all the drugs to be taken at a time. Each sachet on the roll is labelled with the time and date, and this makes it perfectly clear to the patient what has to be taken and when.
For those with dementia, even pre-labelled sachets can be a struggle. To help further, the sachet rolls can be loaded into a dispensing machine (Evondos E300) that is programmed with the schedule. If the patient forgets to take the medication, the machine sounds an alarm to alert him or her. If this doesn’t work, the machine can alert pharmacists and carers about the problem.
It’s all aimed at making sure that the right medication is taken at the right time to manage those long-term conditions. To find out more, I interviewed Lindsay and Sara from PillPacPlus at NICON17. Listen below.
Only a slightly bigger than a credit card, the Azoi Kito+ is a personal health tracking device that measures ECG, heart rate (pulse), blood oxygen, skin temperature and respiration rate. I’ve seen the Kito tracker a couple of times now and every time I see it, I’m impressed that such a small device can gather so much data for so little money (GB£99). Miran from Azoi tells me more at Gadget Show Live.
The Kito+ works in conjunction with a smartphone or tablet to measure the five stats mentioned earlier. The user holds the Kito+ with both hands and two fingers from each hand rest on four measurement points for about 20 seconds, during which the time the Kito+ records the data and passes it on to the Kito app. In real-time the app shows the ECG graph trace and other figures are shown once they’ve stabilised.
As can be seen from the picture, the Kito+ can be embedded into phone cases for the Apple iPhone 6-series of smartphone cases. It’s not essential and the Kito+ works fine outside of a case with Android or other Apple devices. The Kito+ isn’t tied to one person, so a whole family can share the unit.
The Kito+ is available now from Azoi’s webstore for GB£99, which I think is great value when you think of the technology and potential value of the data. I’ll be bringing a full review of the Azoi Kito+ to GNC in the next few weeks.
Chinese medical technology firm Biolight have developed a ranged of personal medical devices for home use, including a blood pressure monitor, blood oximeter, wireless thermometer for babies and foetal monitor. Andrew finds out more from Jeff at the Wearable Technology Show.
Biolight’s range of personal medical devices very much shows the on-going consumerisation of medical devices. These units are colourful and friendly; very different from the often austere machines of the hospital and health centre. Perhaps the most impressive thing revealed in the interview is how relatively inexpensive the products are. Obviously the prices are trade with some of the devices only a few dollars but to think that a foetal heart rate monitor costs around US$60 is incredible. It will undoubtedly sell well at three times the price. Listening to your baby before its born whenever you want? That’s a killer piece of hardware.
All of us are familiar with batteries, from the normal cylindrical cells for toys and remote controls, to the cuboid batteries often seen in digital and video comeras. Whatever the shape, batteries tend to be hard, inflexible and relatively heavy. This can make them awkward to use, especially if there’s a need to attach the battery to a person as it will need to be clipped on or placed in clothing. To address this problem, Finish firm Enfucell have developed a soft and flexible battery for use in medical applications. Andrew hears more from Anja, Enfucell’s Sales Director.
Unlike a normal alkaline battery, the thin and flexible SoftBattery is manufactured by screen printing and lamination, though in other respects it is similar using the reaction between zinc and manganese(IV) oxide (Zn/MnO2) to provide energy. Coming in both 1.5 V and 3 V versions, the SoftBattery is ideal for medical applications as the battery can be incorporated into a skin patch to measure ECG, respiration and activity while still being powerful enough to drive Bluetooth LE. As the battery is only used with one patient before disposal or recycling, there’s no risk of infection between patients.
The SoftBattery technology has been incorporated successfully into several products.
The smartphones in our pockets have cameras that could only have been dreamed of a few years ago, yet most only take a couple of selfies. So why not use these miracles of engineering to do more? Cupris‘ phone case converts the smartphone into a digital medical instrument. Helene tells Andrew more about their upcoming products.
The Cupris smartphone case mounts specialist medical lenses in front of the smartphone camera to take images and videos. The first device is an otoscope (right) for examining the eardrum and the second is an ophthalmoscope (left) for retinal imaging. The big benefit of digital imaging over the traditional scopes is that the pictures can be added to the patient record for review at a later date.
The otoscope will be available soon for less than GB£100.