This month Intel brought together a group of bloggers from around the U.S. for their annual Upgrade Your Life Event where Intel offers several Bloggers the opportunity to see what the micro-processing giant is working on – but we’re not talking necessarily just about their work on their latest Core processors. This is the second year that Chip Chick has attended Intel Upgrade. Last year’s visit to Intel allowed us get an exclusive up and close and view of Intel’s education initiatives, their ethnographic research projects, their MID gadgets, and even some of their future (and very futuristic) projects. This year Intel introduced us to a variety of the different projects that they are currently working on, most of which are outside of the world of microprocessors.
Unless you’re a caregiver to an elderly person in your life, chances are that care-giving isn’t something that you think about much. But according to Intel’s Eric Dishman, the reality is that currently, 9% of the population is over the age of 60 and by 2050 that parentage will grow to 21%. That means that there will be even more people who need care-giving. Intel is aware of the growing aging population and they set out to figure out how to use technology to, for starters, reducing the amount of senior citizens that need to live in a nursing home by making senior citizens be able to live more independently. As a matter of fact, over the past ten years, Intel has had an increasing investment in personal health. Intel believes that technology can help with the prevention of accidents, early detection of sicknesses and it can also help out people who are themselves caregivers. in 1999, Intel and Eric Dishman, the director of Health Innovation and Policy for Intel’s Digital Health Group, studied 100 people’s homes where seniors with Alzheimer’s were living. Today Intel’s social scientists are studying the needs of seniors and their family caregivers in 1000 homes in 20 countries. What they’ve learned so far is that in each country the notion of care is very different from one to the other. For example, in Italy the concept of a nursing home practically doesn’t exist since people generally live with or near their elderly relatives.
From this ethnographic research several personal health projects and devices have sprung up. For example, the Intel Health Guide is Intel’s first Personal health product. This system has the guts of a PC and it offers customized care and information in someone’s home, and it is very suitable for chronic disease management. The idea is that it the Intel Health guide is simple enough for non-technically savvy people to use to get personal health information so that it can help avoid trips to the emergency room. The Intel Health Guide has already started becoming available to purchase and use in Europe. Along these lines, Continua is another one of Intel’s projects which is designed to drive standards for personal health technologies used in the home which is a problem because most medical equipment used by caregivers and senior citizens don’t have any standardizations attached to it to make the equipment more universal and easier to understand and use.
Intel has also been studying falls – a leading cause of so much anguish for way too many seniors. To do this they have been observing how seniors are walking by using advanced sensor systems and cameras. The idea is to learn how seniors are walking, so that a fall can be prevented. The U.S. spends millions of dollars a year on studying a broken hip in an MRI. So Instead Intel is spending money on researching a way to prevent the a hip from breaking in the first place.
The Intel Reader is one of the latest personal products that Intel is hoping will help allow more and more seniors to live independently. The Intel Reader is a handheld device that takes a photo of a reading material and reads it to a user on the spot. The Intel reader is also useful for people with learning disabilities, like Dyslexia. One of the aspects of unique features of the Intel Reader is its ability to to read with natural inflections.
Another one of Intel’s Health initiatives is Dossia which is a a repository for a personal health record (PHR) that you can take with you from one employer to another. This way patient’s can retrieve their own data easily – instead of having to chase down their doctor’s office for records. It seems like a simple idea, but the state of health records in the U.S. is a mess. Each doctor and hospital is holding different information about your own personal health, and none of it is organized into one accessible place. At Intel, their own employees now use Dossia as a framework for their lifelong electronic health records. This sounds like a system worth looking into for everyone else too.
Overall, we were kind of surprised to learn about all of Intel’s current global healthcare projects. Despite already knowing much about their projects outside of the micro-processing arena, like their education programs and devices, we were still a bit taken a back to hear about how much energy (and $$$) they’re spending on personal health programs and products. It’s easy to write Intel off as a just a technology giant, but there is a human side to Intel that is deeply rooted in researching ways to improve life on old planet earth. These programs are no doubt driven by the passionate and dedicated people who work at Intel – like Dishman who introduced us at the Intel Upgrade event to Intel’s Healthcare initiatives. Eric himself became a caregiver to a his elderly grandparents when he was just a teenager. His personal experiences as a caretaker fueled his passion to improve healthcare for senior citizens. It’s clear that Intel has a knack for placing people in programs that are most suited for them based on their own life experiences and life passions, and maybe that is why these programs have so much potential to be widespread successes.
Please note, that in accordance to the FTC Guidelines and WOMMA Code of Ethics, I am disclosing that Intel Corporation has covered my travel, accommodations and costs related to my visit to their Oregon-based offices.