Tech’s onward healthcare march
We present in this article a comparison between two patents issued to Google and Amazon Technologies, Inc. that relate to non-contact systems and methods for physiological parameter (e.g., heart rate) measurement. The two patents were granted relatively recently, with both their effective filing and grant dates being only within about four months from each other.
The question is: do we really need another technique to measure pulse rates? And why would two very big, very ambitious, and very powerful companies bother to develop a healthcare-related invention directed to a now common patent subject matter? Obviously, there is more to this than meets the eye. We are talking about Google and Amazon, after all. For one, Amazon has just recently announced its alliance with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan to establish a healthcare company with an ambition befitting its founders’ size and reputation. Google, on the other hand, has already invested in more than 50 healthcare companies.
In fact, healthcare has been for some time now a major, although relatively low-profile, investment area for many of the biggest names in the tech industry including Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, and Intel. Part of the reason is improvements within the healthcare industry offer revenue growth opportunities projected to be worth more than $500 billion. Also, companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and IBM possess massive resources—especially hardware and software expertise in the field of AI, natural language processing, vision, pattern recognition, search, health monitoring systems, including mobile and cloud computing—required to develop tools that might just revolutionize healthcare services delivery.
Further, the amount of clinical, biomedical, and genomic data being generated every year continues to increase exponentially. Making sense of these tremendous amount of data and extracting insights for use in, for example, clinical decision support would only be feasible through the implementation of sophisticated data analytics technologies across the entire industry. Of course, each of these giant tech companies also has a massive stash of cash to fund their foray into a colossus of an industry. In addition, the healthcare industry’s enormous size provides ample room for each of them to position their newly-developed products and services.