Visualizing Electronic Health Records With "Google-Earth for the Body"

IBM researchers develop 3-D visualization tool for electronic health records

7 min read

”As you can see,” the doctor was telling me, ”the X-rays don’t show any break.” I nodded in agreement, although I couldn’t tell much of anything from the black-and-white image of my badly swollen and severely hyperextended right wrist, which I’d injured during a softball game. The doctor helpfully explained, as he was taping on a splint, that I obviously had injured a couple of somethings in my wrist with Latin-sounding names, but not to worry, it would just take a few weeks to heal up.

While it may not have changed my diagnosis, at that moment I would have appreciated a nice diagram of the bones, tendons, muscles, and blood vessels of my wrist showing me exactly what I had injured, along with an explanation of all the medical jargon my doctor used. I would have especially liked having a way of understanding what parts of my body were going to be affected before the several surgeries I have experienced.

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Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic

Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

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