Liftoff PGH Lands in Vegas for CES 2020

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) descended upon Las Vegas, and three Liftoff PGH stowaways spent a week inside the tech industry's magic eight ball. The team tested their balance, measured their vital signs through touchless remote sensing, met robots who befriend older adults, and tasted fresh salad greens grown by Amazon Alexa.

This year's voyage was as predictive as it was affirming. Not 2 years ago, Liftoff PGH was merely a spark between two healthcare wonks, an inkling that our industry needed a strong dose of whatever fuels the wider world of entrepreneurship. This December, we are launching Pittsburgh's first healthcare innovation summit, showcasing our region's intellectual assets and entrepreneurial potential.

So as we journeyed through gamified therapies, customized consumer wearables, and mountains of biometric data, the most striking observation was not actually tech dependent. More than any one invention, we left CES with the unwavering commitment to create a culture of open, seamless, and inclusive innovation.

We're turning our divining powers to health care and bring you 6 key forces shaping the future of our industry.

6 Key Forces Shaping the Future of Health Care

1. Invention knows no age

Some of the most disruptive technologies came from people who can't even vote. We were enchanted by the ingenuity of the '2020 teen' at the CES Young Innovators to Watch Showcase. Alishba Imran developed a blockchain platform to track counterfeit medication through the supply chain, while Sage Khanuja and Nikolas Loannou designed a $15 screening device for respiratory diseases. CES proved that game changing innovation can come from anywhere.

2. One innovation can upend an entire health delivery system

No protocol nor procedure defied reinvention, beginning with some of the most traditional models of care. Cynergi is rethinking opioid recovery through VR, while Binah AI pioneered contactless, video-based vitals monitoring. It's not necessarily new technology, but rather breaking into the healthcare industry that has tremendous implications for how we win the war against infection, addiction, and other harms.

3. Patients are consumers

Companies at CES are busy figuring out how to give people control of their health decisions. Monitoring and diagnostic capabilities were embedded into anything from pajamas to smart band aids. Options for where and how to get medical care continue to diversify, like in 5,200 Walmart Health Hubs across the US, or in the offices of Rally Health.

4. Data predicts outcomes

As devices measure anything from heart rate to temperature, movement, balance, posture, and sleep products are beginning to predict possible challenges, and the best treatment. There are bands to retrain children prone to bedwetting, one of the leading predictors of teen suicide, and a line of underwear, tshirts and maternity clothes that provide real-time tracking and AI-assisted interpretation of vital biometric measures.

5. Visionaries command health care's future

Any institution can deliver innovative solutions, from the Federal Drug Administration to Facebook to universities and local clinics. A visionary leader can completely disrupt employee mindset, and equally, shake up an industry that is not their own. Some of the most surprising answers came from unusual partnerships, between the Mayo Clinic and a lighting company or Microsoft and the American Printing House for the Blind.

6. Creativity reigns

At CES this year, it was not a question of the specific limits of technology. Products like Amazon's Alexa were incorporated into mini lettuce terrariums, while Strictly Robots unveiled an emotional support robopuppy. Not all innovations are equally marketable, but pushing what is possible clears the path for someone who might create the next impossible pork, which might spur new nutrition protocols for droughts or famines. And you never know when you might need an AI assisted digital nose. CES delivered creativity unbound. 

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