About a year ago, I started to see more and more about a new line of medical devices that utilize smart phone platforms and add software and/or a physical attachment that turns the phone into a powerful medical device. If this is hard to visualize or understand, watch the video by Eric Topol at last years TedMed conference and be prepared to be amazed. Many of the large, heavy diagnostic devices in a doctor’s office can now be carried in a brief case. In fact, multiple devices will fit and still leave plenty of room for other things a doctor might carry along.
Part of the amazing aspect of Eric’s presentation is that the devices he shows already exist! They are not prototypes that will be available sometime around 2020.
Another amazing thing is that Southern California, especially San Diego, is considered “Ground Zero” for this emerging class of technologies and products. It certainly makes sense since San Diego was “Ground Zero” in the development of the cell phone industry and quite a few Life Sciences companies began life here. Combine this with the small town atmosphere where people and businesses seem to know each other and it doesn’t take long for engineers from both areas to talk and share ideas. One result that Eric mentions is that there were 100 companies working on wireless medical products last October. In talking with a friend who is a lawyer back in DC and works with the FDA a lot, he mentioned that there were 300 patents issued in this space this year and 180 were issued to San Diego companies!
As I mentioned when I started this post, I first began looking at this area about a year ago, but decided to learn a lot more a few months ago. Any time a hot new industry begins to emerge, lots of opportunities develop for entrepreneurs, service providers, and investors especially those who take the time to follow the developments and discover the true opportunities from the rat holes that you can get caught up in that burn considerable time and dollar resources.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will put up some posts of things I have discovered and some pitfalls that you can avoid if you decide to get on this roller coaster as the industry develops. I am also interested in understanding what others have encountered as they have gotten involved in this industry and the recommendations they will share with this developing community.
So, my answer to the question I posed in the title is ABSOLUTELY, this is the next big thing and how big it gets will depend on how well the community around this industry develops. If history repeats itself, San Diego will have an active community and stay in the forefront as this industry develops.