The Cambridge Consultants Innovation Day 2017 addressed how insightful design, smarter products and digital services are transforming business with keynote sessions and seminars given by their experts and customers. The day started off with CEO Eric Wilkinson discussing how Cambridge Consultants (CC) is investing in digital services, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and synthetic biology. CC acquired Synapse in June 2016 to extend their reach and depth of services. The keynote speakers included the following talks:
- Iridium’s Amazing Journey – and what’s NEXT by Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium
Matt reviewed Iridium’s history with its satellite network that is 20 years old. The original network was a technology success but business model failure and probably was ahead of its time. It cost $6 billion but could not generate nearly enough revenue to support that investment. The network now connects about tens of thousands of ships, trucks and airplanes with plans to transition to IoT services. Iridium is still a unique innovation platform for hundreds of applications, and the company is now launching a replacement network called Iridium NEXT that will be even more powerful and drive exciting new services. They are investing small satellites and using commercial launch services to reduce their costs and is one of the largest customers for these New Space companies.
- Innovation Beyond Smart, with Vision - Hiroki Kitagawa, General Manager, Global Center for Social Innovation-Tokyo, Research & Development Group, Hitachi Ltd.
Hitachi is developing a social concept of life for the coming Society 5.0 (Society 4.0 is the information age) or super smart age. Instead of simply extending smart, advanced technologies into the future, they are considering issues and viewpoints that can't be solved with advanced technologies. Hiroki showcased a vision of the service scenarios of the future where the elderly population will greatly increase and perhaps robotic services can be used to assist society with their challenges.
- Nike Digital Sport: the evolution of connected products and experiences - Jordan Rice - Sr. Director, Nike NXT Smart Systems Engineering
Nike’s Digital Technology team was an early pioneer in quantifying consumers digitally through the Nike+ franchise, including the Nike+ FuelBand and Nike+ Basketball. Their digital products have evolved since then, with sharper focus on connectedness, insights, and tighter integration with services as they are not really working with smart clothing anymore. Jordan discussed the evolution of Nike’s connected products and associated services, as well as key lessons learned mostly from his personal experiences. He stressed how technology needs to be frictionless in order to be widely adopted by consumers.
- The Metamorphosis of Medtech - Nick Pachuda, Worldwide Vice President, Orthopedic Innovation, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices
The medical device sector is rapidly evolving. Orthopedics is an example industry where new device and digital innovations are transforming access, engagement, outcome and cost. Nick covered how orthopedics is taking a new look at extending its services to personalize each patients’ treatment and realize better outcomes. This can be accomplished by monitoring a person’s health and letting them know in the future when they will probably need surgery or treatment. They can be notified before they become ill or disabled to have the surgery needed, schedule it at a convenient time and quickly get access to the surgery with the best doctor. He estimated that 143 million surgeries could be done per year to prevent disabilities if patients could be properly diagnosed ahead of time.
CC works with many companies to realize innovation products in a variety of applications from medical to consumer to communications. The product display area had many interesting developments ranging from an on demand, custom wine blending machine to a hand-held micro-nuclear magnetic resonance (µNMR) technology to virtual reality surgery.
During the event, CC announced MagLense, a breakthrough in through body wireless power that could revolutionize medical implants and consumer wearable devices. The system provides a flexible, efficient and safe wireless power transfer to devices inside the body without having to worry about precise alignment with the implant, and regardless of the size and body shape of the patient. The breakthrough promises to free up patients who currently have to spend four to six hours per charge cycle charging up their implant batteries. Fast and efficient charging opens the door to a new generation of battery-less smart implants powered wirelessly from power sources up to 50 cm away giving the patient freedom of movement at all times. The efficient way in which the power is targeted and transferred also means that any external power source, for when the patient is outside the home, could be much smaller than today’s devices, which are typically the size of a smartphone.
The MagLense system uses multiple, uniquely shaped flexible coils to shape the applied magnetic field, to intelligently target an implant. This configuration and control architecture enables more efficient power transfer to the implant–allowing much more alignment leeway and higher rates of power delivery. The wireless charging device has a smart algorithm that dynamically adjusts the phase of the signal to best couple to the device in the body so slight movements of mis-positioning can be compensated for while charging. It is self-calibrating to deliver the optimum power for different implant locations, orientations, sizes and shapes. In addition, it intelligently targets only the desired implant–avoiding any heat damage to surrounding tissue or other implants.
MagLense technology is ready for integration into devices and could herald a new era of treatment for people with chronic and episodic conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes, obesity and depression. It could enable implants to be used in parts of the body not possible today, and more widespread use of micro implants for targeted nerve stimulation. Beyond medical applications, MagLense could transform the world of consumer wearable devices, permitting charging of phones and other devices while in use.
I look forward to seeing what other innovations come out of CC in the near future. The development of the hand-held micro-nuclear magnetic resonance (µNMR) technology from a startup named WaveGuide should be one that will make an impact on the health of society as it will enable detection of diseases in areas where this type of diagnosis is not available.