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June 6, 2012

Seeking the world's top digital health sensor innovations

On May 24, Nokia launched the global Nokia Sensing X CHALLENGE at the Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance (WLSA) Convergence Summit in San Diego in order to spur innovation in digital healthcare.

The $2.24 million competition was launched in partnership with the X PRIZE Foundation and aims to discover the world’s best mobile technologies geared at sensing medical conditions and other measurements of health.

“This competition will enable us to realize the full potential of mobile sensing devices, leading to advances in sensing technology which can play a major role in transforming the lives of billions of people around the world,” said Henry Tirri, Nokia’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.

BIORASIS Glucowizzard implantable glucose sensor concept (via

At the event, X PRIZE Foundation Chairman and CEO Dr. Peter H. Diamandis noted that there is more to medical sensory technology than simply monitoring the state of existing illnesses. These new technologies can also be used to keep track of things like exercise, which impact overall wellness and can therefore help in prevention as well.

“Partnering with Nokia is a natural fit for this competition,” Dr. Diamandis said during the keynote address. “Health sensing technologies enabled by artificial intelligence, lab-on-a-chip, and digital imaging are advancing exponentially and will ultimately integrate with your phone. We need to expand sensor and sensing technology beyond disease management to areas such as public health and fitness.

“The Nokia Sensing X CHALLENGE will bring about radical innovation in health sensors and sensing technologies, which paves the way for better choices in when, where, and how individuals receive care. Ultimately, healthcare will be more convenient, affordable, and accessible to consumers worldwide through these integrated digital health solutions.”

These benefits will help maximize the benefits of existing healthcare services around the world, whether in rural places in the majority world where accessing doctors is more difficult — both geographically and financially — as well as in urban hubs where people feel increasing pressure to work more, often leaving them feeling they don’t have time to look after their health, or are “too scared to take time off.”

While medical sensory technologies cannot replace doctors, they can help patients decide when to seek help, and assist them in assessing the type of treatment they may require. This can make it more efficient to manage both time and money, as well as manage stress levels by empowering patients.

The international Nokia Sensing X CHALLENGE will comprise three competitions over the next three years, in the phases of Registration, Preliminary Judging and Final Phase Judging. They will be looking at the areas of technology (sensing mode, cost and size, interlinking, resource scarcity, and computing and machine learning algorithms), trustworthiness, privacy and security, and regulations, standardization and interoperability.

Can you think of a health-related mobile sensory innovation that could change your life, or the life of someone you know? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.