Is This a Golden Age for Medical Devices?


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I grew up in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In my hometown, electronic media consisted of five television stations—one for each of the big three networks, an independent station, and a public broadcasting channel. Radios were all mono AM band. At one radio station in my hometown during this time, a twenty-something audio technician got permission to set up an "underground" FM radio station in a broom closet of the broadcast building. That little experiment grew into one of the most listened-to FM stations in my hometown today.

Further, wireless, back then, meant you had a CB radio in your car. If you tuned in to channel 18 at 9 p.m. every weeknight, you could hear my buddies and me comparing answers on our homework assignments. I think we invented the chat room!

C_NoJo-Nov2018.jpgLooking back, that period of time was the dawning of a golden age of innovation in communications technology. That era led to wireless phones, electronic data terminals and pay stations, and technology that allows us to watch our favorite shows on our own time and not the TV stations’ schedule. If you had told 10-year-old Nolan that two or three decades later these things would come to pass, that version of me would have had trouble taking you seriously (my 10-year-old self was much more of a skeptic than grown-up me).

We live in a very different—but mostly better—world because of this innovative era. I say that out loud to my son every time he video calls me from his home at a Naval station in Virginia. Just as the telecommunications golden age launched 30 years ago, it seems that medical device technology is gearing up to do something similar. The Internet of Things (IoT), Internet of the Body (IoB), and printed electronics technologies are emerging, and they’re converging with medical devices in a big way.

It’s hard not to conclude that we're seeing the beginning of an innovative golden age in medical devices due to the confluence of these three disruptive new technologies.

The way we use electronics to monitor our health and well-being will in all likelihood be unrecognizable by the middle of the 21st century—"Grandpa, tell me again why the nurses stuck the thermometer under your tongue when you were a kid?" This is why we decided to take a step back to survey the changes this month and have a discussion on these pages about what is happening with medical device development.

To read the full article, which appeared in the November 2018 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.

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