5 things we've learnt

Each week a member of the team shares 5 new things they have learnt or found interesting. Here's some of the best we have shared in 2014.  

1. Crowdsourcing for medical breakthroughs

People talk a lot about crowdsourcing for innovation, but that data protection and patients' unwillingness to share their personal data may hold the concept back in the world of health. I have never understood that argument and CrowdMed demonstrates why this is possible. The company has introduced a new approach to solving some of today's most confounding medical mysteries. Inspired by the 350 million people worldwide who suffer from one of 7,000 rare or difficult-to-diagnose medical conditions, the website helps people reach a diagnosis faster by tapping into a unique database of "experts." Users create an anonymous profile and upload medical, family, and lifestyle information, and use the case review service. Then, the crowd of "medical detectives" — physicians and nurses (both active and retired), healthcare professionals, and even non-healthcare professionals — gets to work, applying their unique experience, and expertise to offer insight or suggest a diagnosis.


2. Candy flavoured electronic cigarettes

This is an interesting piece on e-cigarettes, which highlights the unregulated nature of the category, and the irresponsible attitude of the manufacturers. Equally interesting is the insight that many things that are healthier than the very unhealthy alternative, are themselves perceived as healthy.


3. Smartphone screens can now perform blood tests

Qloudlab, a startup based in the micro-engineering laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology or EPFL, has developed a diagnostic tool that uses a smartphone screen to perform blood tests. The diagnostic tool was developed for people undergoing anticoagulant treatment. To perform the blood test, a single-use film made of a very thin micro-structured plastic layer is placed on top of the smartphone screen. A drop of blood is introduced into the film through a capillary action and comes in contact with a molecule that initiates coagulation of the blood. An accompanying app analyzes the disruptions in the electric field of the screen and interprets the data to determine whether the owner of the blood is at risk of bleeding. The results of the blood test can then be sent to the person's physician.


4. Biodegradable battery dissolves in your body once it's job is done

John Rogers, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his research team have developed a fully biodegradable battery that dissolves inside the body after three weeks in water. The biodegradable device has several potential uses, including environmental applications wherein the device can be turned into a chemical sensor that assesses an oil spill and simply dissolve afterwards, as well as biomedical implants that deliver drugs as controlled or in response to time-sensitive events like epileptic seizures


5. Fixed vs. Growth: Which mindset have you got for success?

"Growth" in its broadest sense is central to who we are and what we believe in at Strategic North, "5 things" being one such example. This article is an extended review Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck's remarkably insightful new book, called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. This book illustrates that success is largely down to having a "Growth" mindset. It's a very good read, and ask yourself how you would respond to the 4 year-old jigsaw challenge.