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Sad senior man in hospital bed and his wife sitting next to him

As many business leaders and media pundits pay lip service to what many are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Healthcare industry insiders have been optimistic about the great benefits on the horizon.

A majority of the discussions about technology and health have, in broad strokes, centered on the IOT (internet of things), telemedicine, personalisation, and of course robotics. However, the question remains how will these tech advancements transform the way the business works? As the CEO of more than one business supporting healthcare, including the tech start-up Solaris, I have been involved in many conversations on the impacts of tech. And, while books could be written about the subject, there are a couple of areas in particular I have noticed to be at the forefront of the discussion. Namely, that of AI and robotics.

Human augmentation, for one, continues to excite more than Sci-Fi fans today, but doctors and pharmaceutical giants as well. Theoretically, we are on the verge of not only replacing deficient hearing or vision but enhancing it to new levels. Some labs have even developed sound selection ear plugs which filter sounds we don’t want and enhance the ones we do.

As for prosthetics, robotics has been in the space for some time but today’s mechanical limbs are resembling Hollywood fiction. Dynamically adapting appendages which are environment responsive and acutely user-centric.

On the data side, the so-called “open AI ecosystem” is a particularly promising IOT solution which is globally recognized as a game changer. What is it? The open AI ecosystem basically refers to the concept that with an extraordinary volume of data coupled with advances in natural language process and social awareness algorithms, the application of AI will become increasingly demanded by consumers. We already have digital applications that serve as personal assistant, these solutions will surely continue to seep into the medical sector.

One particular application of AI, is the trend towards social robotics. These machines learn and understand people and respond appropriately. Hence the “social” handle. Solutions such as Paro, the robotic seal used to reduce stress in elderly patients is already a simple, outdated footnote compared to today’s advancements. Surprisingly functional machine companions and socially-aware personal assistants which interact with people in a personalized way. Improving both task performance and information curation, these future functionaries don’t simply perform duties, they understand and emulate people.

So, the question remains, how do such tech advancements and solutions promise to change the healthcare industry? Simply put, the current state of technology in the recent past tell us how we are sick, and perhaps even why. Tomorrow’s tech will grant us the ability to prevent and even cure illness.