Irish researcher wins Google wearable healthcare challenge

27 Apr 2015

Professor Brian Caulfield, a connected health researcher from University College Dublin (UCD), has won the 2015 Google Wearables in Healthcare Pilot Challenge with his pitch for a rehabilitation support platform that uses mobile phones.

The challenge, organised by Medstro in partnership with MedTech Boston and Google, took place at the end of last week at Google’s Cambridge headquarters in Massachusetts, with Prof Caulfield pitching his idea of leveraging the sensing and computing capability of mobile phones to underpin a comprehensive rehabilitation support platform for patients undergoing elective orthopaedic surgery.

Prof Caulfield’s wearable mobile support for orthopaedic rehabilitation provides real-time feedback on rehab exercises and activities in addition to making some of the exercises more game-like.

He was one of 10 finalists, having been whittled down from 90 entry submissions, who took part in the pitch to a team of judges on proposed uses for wearables that have yet to be integrated into the wider healthcare system.

A cheaper and easier approach to health wearables

Prof Caulfield won the top prize of more than US$3,000 because the six judges, who represented major Boston healthcare organisations, felt his idea was a practical and simple concept that had the potential to reach many patients.

Speaking of his success, Prof Caulfield said: “I am delighted to have won the prestigious 2015 Google Wearables in Healthcare Pilot Challenge. Winning this challenge will help to validate our solution of using the sensors in smartphones to assist people undergoing orthopaedic rehabilitation.”

He added: “Our idea addresses the unmet needs that patients and clinicians cite as the major challenges to successful rehabilitation outcome and satisfaction with care. By using a mobile phone as a sensing device, we are removing the need to purchase additional sensing hardware to provide patients with a solution to their problems, with all the associated costs that this involves.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic