March 15, 2018

The e-Magazine About Medical Innovation


AR and VR to Enhance Training

Learning the Sim Way

Dream Devices

The Smart Magazine About Medical Technology Innovations

The Next Generation Training

Dear Readers,


In this issue, you’ll read about how integrating augmented and virtual reality into medical training can be tremendously helpful for trainees. With healthcare training becoming increasingly high-tech, medical simulation centers are the new classrooms of the 21st century.


Smart bed, smart pad, smart pillow, smart headband… The “sleep tech” market is booming. In this edition, we also go over the burgeoning range of ever-smarter devices that is now available to help users manage their levels of “vitamin Z.” And to keep you up-to-date on the latest industry trends, we’re giving you a taste of what happened at the recent HIMSS conference in Las Vegas and the ECR congress in Vienna.


Happy reading!


Celia Sampol, Editor-in-Chief

Fullpage ARJO
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Persistence Market Research is valuing the global sleep aid market at $31 billion by 2025.
The Dreem headband (Courtesy of Dreem)


The “sleep tech” market is booming. A growing array of gadgetry targets sleep-conscious consumers.


Most of us understand the importance of a good night’s sleep. Yet in today’s constantly connected world, filled with demands, deadlines, and drama, getting enough pillow time can be a real challenge. It is therefore not surprising that the so-called “sleep tech” market is booming. With New York-based research outfit Persistence Market Research valuing the global sleep aid market at $31 billion by 2025, a burgeoning range of ever-smarter devices is now available to help users manage their levels of “vitamin Z”.

With subtle differences between our varying sleep stages, accurately tracking sleep is no easy task. Yet personal sleep devices now go way beyond a smartphone equipped with an app and accelerometer.

Smart Slumber

Nokia has just unveiled Nokia Sleep, described as an “advanced sensor” incorporated into a smart pad. The pad, which connects via Wi-Fi, is inserted  under the mattress and records the user’s sleep patterns. This data is then relayed to Nokia’s Health Mate app for analysis and the generation of a so-called “sleep score”. With the sensor’s algorithms trained on clinical data from polysomnography tests, it can also track snoring patterns.

Nokia Sleep is an “advanced sensor” incorporated into a smart pad. (Courtesy of Nokia)

One of the most useful features of Nokia Sleep is that it also integrates with the automation app IFTTT, allowing other connected domestic devices to be customized to the user’s sleeping habits. “The system can be configured so that lights dim and the room temperature lowers once the user falls asleep, or the blinds open on waking,” said Audrey Rampazzo, UK brand and channel marketing specialist at Nokia Health.

“The system can be configured so that lights dim and the room temperature lowers once the user falls asleep.”

Mattress pads might seem like a more comfortable way to monitor sleep than wristbands, but critics point out that restless sleepers could receive inaccurate data if they lose contact with the pad during the night. Placed under the side of the mattress at chest level, the Nokia Sleep can supposedly distinguish the user’s movements and vital signs from anyone else sharing the bed.

Those who don’t want to use bracelets or pads to keep tabs on their snoozing can choose from a plethora of other options. The iX21 smartpillow from German company ADVANSA incorporates sensors which monitor the user’s sleep cycles.

“Sensor data is sent to a smartphone app which then offers ‘personalised coaching’ on how to improve sleep quality,” said Etienne Fradin-Beaugerie, a technical leader overseeing the iX21 Smart pillow project. “An intelligent wake-up system also rouses the user at the best possible time within their sleep cycle.”

Levels of “Vitamin Z”

A growing range of sleep tech now boasts active sleep management as well as passive monitoring. Sleep Number’s 360 smart bed, which is equipped with an array of pressure sensors, adapts to the user’s every move, automatically modifying the contours and firmness of the bed during the night, while an adjustable base inclines the head upwards if snoring is detected. There are automated foot warmers and under-bed lights, while each night over 4 million biometric data points are sent to an app for analysis.

Sleep Number’s 360 smart bed is equipped with an array of pressure sensors. (Courtesy of Sleep Number)

“In the near future we envision that such analysis will allow the identification of flu and other diseases, and enable remote medical monitoring outside of hospitals,” explained Pete Bils, Sleep Number’s Vice President of Sleep Science and Research.

Studies suggest that deep (or slow wave) sleep plays a key role in determining how alert and focused the human brain is. The SmartSleep headband from Philips uses two sensors to detect periods of deep sleep, then plays fixed frequency tones to extend their duration.

“We use advanced algorithms, developed with leading sleep experts and neurologists, to generate these audio tones,” said John Frank, CEO of Philips Sleep and Respiratory Care. “In trials 70 percent of chronically sleep-deprived users who tried SmartSleep for just two weeks reported feeling less tired during the day.”

The Dreem headband emits subtle sounds into the user’s inner ear to boost deep sleep. (Courtesy of Dreem)

The Philips device will be competing with the Dreem headband from San Francisco-based startup Rythm, which uses electroencephalography electrodes and an in-built computer to monitor and analyze brain activity. The device then emits subtle, precise sounds directly into the user’s inner ear to boost deep sleep. The company claims that Dreem can enhance deep sleep quality by 32% and leave users feeling 88% more rested and alert when they wake up.

A Rest Revolution

The influence of smart gadgetry on human sleep is likely to continue its upward trend. Many experts predict that advances in artificial intelligence, technology, biology and neurology will one day enable us to “sleep hack”, enhancing our rest time to boost wellbeing and productivity. And as the role of such digital devices increases, so sleep will become an increasingly personal, micro-managed affair.


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  • The AV1 robot (Courtesy of Tore Meek/NTB scanpix)

    The Norwegian company No Isolation created what is believed-to-be the world’s first telepresence robot in order to overcome the forced isolation of children undergoing medical treatment.


    When three young Norwegian engineers decided to put their skills together to build a company, they thought it should contribute to making “the world a little bit better with the help of technology.” Cue the idea of No Isolation: “to help vulnerable groups living in social isolation,” explained Anna Holm Heide, the company’s chief communications officer.

    The engineers imagined an avatar who could sit in the classroom instead of the sick children.

    In August 2016, they launched their first product, AV1, “the world’s first telepresence robot.” AV1 allows children to remain socially engaged in their daily life despite their illness.

    Engineers sat with children for several sessions to understand their needs and adjust their responses. “User experience is a huge part of our process,” added Heide. Children mentioned that they really missed school. So the engineers imagined an avatar who could sit in the classroom instead of the sick children.

    AV1 is operated by standard tablet. With a swipe to the tablet, the robot’s head turns 360 degrees so the user can see and hear everything going on around it. The child speaks through the proxy to interact with the class, and a light indicates when the robot wants to “raise its hand.”

    Maintaining Control

    The device weighs 900 grams and can fit in a backpack. It comes with 4G and WiFi to allow the sick child’s friends to take it with them everywhere. It is made entirely of hard plastic. “I sort of wished that we had more broken robots coming back to us because that would mean that kids were bringing it around a lot,” said Heide. “[Kids] seem to respect [the robot]. They are very responsible, they are good at picking it up and including it.”

    AV1 with student (Courtesy of No Isolation)

    The robot allows users to have full control over something in their lives at a time when they are losing control. The target group, however, is both broad and complex. From immune system deficiency, or cerebral palsy, to chemotherapy treatments, the groups all suffer from different conditions. This is why the robot’s degree of interaction can be modified. The patient can also decide to remain passively present—he or she can let the class know by simply turning on a blue light on top of AV1’s head.

    “The robot was designed to fully respect the user’s privacy and safety.”

    In addition, “the kids using the device were very clear that they did not want to be visible,  they did not want others to see if they were having a bad day,” clarified Heide. The robot was designed to fully respect the user’s privacy and safety, with live streaming and encryption on both ends. Only the children concerned have access to the activation code. And “the kids and the parents agree that only the kid will look at the screen,” added Heide.

    In countries where No Isolation is present—Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK— the machine is also available to rent. More than 350 robots are currently being used.

    “Our new product is a communication tool targeting senior citizens with no technical or digital skills,” explained Heide. This tool, KOMP, was launched in December 2017. No Isolation intends to propose a new solution every year to fight isolation, each time for a different target group. They also want to become a global company and expand into North and South America. “We see that this issue is so universal,” said Heide.

    AV1 in the classroom (Courtesy of No Isolation)


    The new Magnetom Sola (Courtesy of Siemens Healthineers)


    In Vienna at this year’s ECR (European Conference of Radiology) from February 28 to March 4, Siemens Healthineers introduced Magnetom Sola, its new 1.5 Tesla...

    The new GE Healthcare LOGIQ E10 Ultrasound (Courtesy of GE)


    GE Healthcare launched new Logiq E10 ultrasound scanner at the ECR this year. Logiq E10 is an ultrasound scanner which collects and reconstructs data in a way...

    The new Ingenia Elition (Courtesy of Philips)


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    The wheelAIR cushion (Courtesy of wheelAIR)


    Wheelchair users who endure overheating problems when sitting in their chairs for long periods of time can now relax with a new cooling cushion that just arrived on the market.


    It’s an all too common problem for wheelchair users: their bodies become overheated when sitting for long periods of time with little air circulation around their backs. However, a solution that regulates body temperature has been introduced thanks to the efforts of Belgian-born Corien Staels.

    With the aid of the fan the cushion not only cools the back, but reduces the user’s core temperature.

    In 2015 Staels first developed her wheelAir cushion after seeing how her Glasgow University supervisor, who used a wheelchair, become overheated. She started her company Staels Design in 2016 to further develop the product and has received significant funding to bring it to production.

    After witnessing the problem of overheating, Staels also discovered that those with spinal cord injuries had to cool themselves off in drastic and unforgiving ways. This included having to strap ice packs to their bodies or spray themselves with water hoses post-exercise. Soon it became apparent to her that overheating was not just a problem for those with immobilizing spinal cord injuries, but for all wheelchair users.

    The patent pending wheelAir product is a specially designed supportive cushion that uses battery-operated inbuilt fan technology. Layers of breathable viscoelastic foam make up the cushion itself which is machine-washable and fits all self-propelled wheelchairs.

    Taking Away Excess Heat and Moisture

    The cushion fits heights from 300 mm to 450 mm and is available in a number of widths including 290 mm, 330 mm, 360 mm and 400 mm. The lithium battery lasts for up to 20 hours and is rechargeable via a micro USB charger. With the aid of the fan the cushion not only cools the back, but reduces the user’s core temperature by removing excess heat and moisture. This, according to the manufacturer, allows for instant comfort and better temperature control.

    The wheelAir’s lithium battery lasts for up to 20 hours. (Courtesy of wheelAir)

    So far, the product has generated a great deal of interest among wheelchair users and especially with Paralympic athletes. “We have already sold our first batch of 500 cushions in ten countries. They are all manufactured in Dunfermline, Scotland and retail for £650 each (740 euros),” Staels indicated.

    Also for Truck or Taxi Drivers

    There are four settings on the airflow system within the cushion to suit all situations and people. “We developed the cushion primarily for users of self-propelled wheelchairs. But they can also be used for truck or taxi drivers sitting long hours behind the wheel or indeed office workers,” Staels explained.

    “However, at the moment, we are concentrating on the mobility market and have a number of new products coming that will help a lot more people. One of these is a higher tech version of the wheelAir cushion,” she added without revealing too many details about the cooling products to come.


    Read more about the new horizons broadened for people with reduced mobility in our previous issue and on MedicalExpo website.


    Brian Beary

    Brian Beary is an independent writer, journalist, and editor based in Washington DC. He writes for, and appears on, a diverse range of print and audiovisual media outlets.

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    Monica Hutchings

    Monica Hutchings is a Canadian writer and translator who has worked on everything from technical descriptions to academic journals. She is also our in-house English translator.

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    Sole Møller

    Sole Møller is a Danish freelance journalist based in San Fransisco. He writes about new technologies and contributes to several publications.

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    Chris McCullough

    Chris McCullough is a freelance multimedia journalist with 15 years of experience, based in Northern Ireland. He has won various awards for his photos and journalism.

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    Abigail Saltmarsh

    Abigail Saltmarsh is a freelance journalist with 25 years’ experience for national magazines (The New York Times, International Herald Tribune).

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    Hermine Donceel

    Hermine Donceel is a Brussels-based freelance journalist. She has lived in Southeast Asia for ten years, and has covered public health and environment, nutrition and climate change.

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    Daniel Allen

    Daniel Allen is a writer and a photographer. His work has been featured in numerous publications, including CNN, BBC, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, National Geographic Traveller, Discovery Channel.

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    Celia Sampol

    Celia Sampol has been a journalist for 15 years. She worked in Brussels and Washington for national medias (Agence France Presse, Liberation). She’s now the editor-in-chief of MedicalExpo e-magazine.

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