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Google continues to invest in health start-ups

Digital technology is continually transforming traditional industries, and health care is no exception. In the last five years, tech giants have increas...

Catherine Sturman
|Aug 16|magazine6 min read

Digital technology is continually transforming traditional industries, and health care is no exception. In the last five years, tech giants have increasingly looked at healthcare as a potential growth market, merging technology, data and healthcare in order to develop new products and services to support its users obtain a higher quality of living anywhere in the world.

In 2015, Google launched its DeepMind Health initiative, signifying its interest in supporting the medical profession through AI and machine learning capabilities in order to support the delivery of exceptional health care, either at home or within an acute setting.

With this in mind, the company’s recent acquisition of Seattle-based start-up Senosis Health is of no surprise. Originally reported by GeekWire, the technology has been created by US Professor and entrepreneur Shwetak Patel, alongside a large number of clinicians, researchers and tech experts. The technology has enabled the ability for users to turn mobile technologies into medical diagnosis tools. Financial details surrounding the acquisition have not been disclosed.

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Through the use of inbuilt sensors, smartphones are able to become useful medical assets in the tracking of essential health statistics, monitoring ongoing conditions.

In an early interview with GeekWire, Patel commented: “The sensors that are already on the mobile phone can be repurposed in interesting new ways, where you can actually use those for diagnosing certain kinds of diseases.” Its apps help provide data on areas such as a user’s haemoglobin levels through the HemaApp, alongside the company’s SpiroSmart app, which measures a user’s lung function through the phone’s microphone.

Through the acquisition, Senosis Health will remain as part of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, but will not become part of Google’s research organisation, Verily Life Sciences, but remain separate, signifying Google’s desire to keep the two as separate areas of development.