In July 2014, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin sat down for a rare interview with Vinod Khosla where they discussed, among other things, Google’s involvement in health. When Khosla asked if Google would ever become a healthcare company, both founders were somewhat critical of the current healthcare system’s regulatory hurdles and because of this didn’t envisage becoming a big player in the space. The full interview is below.
Perhaps this was downplayed somewhat since Google is investing both money and resources in digital health in a number of ways and even Medtronic believes Google will be its main competitor in eight years’ time.
Here are 8 examples of how Google is moving into Digital Health
1. Google will store your genome in the cloud for $25 a year
Google has been in the online storage business for sometime now but never like this. Google wants to help university laboratories and hospitals store their clients’ genomes in the cloud which they are calling Google Genomics. For $25 a year, Google will keep a copy of any genome in the cloud to allow researchers to access millions of genomes and run batch analyses efficiently.
2. Google is developing a cancer and heart attack-detecting pill
Google is working on a nanoparticle pill that could identify cancers, heart attacks and other diseases before they become a problem. Magnetic nanoparticles, less than one-thousandth the width of a red blood cell, will circulate through the blood to detect and report signs of cancer or an imminent heart attack.
Andrew Conrad, head of the Life Sciences team at the Google X research lab said at a Wall Street Journal event in October last year,“Every test you ever go to the doctor for will be done through this system. This is our dream.”
3. Google is making fake skin to test its nanoparticles
In order to detect the light coming from the nanoparticle pills, Google had to understand exactly how light passes through skin so they started making synthetic skin. The synthetic skin had to be made the same as real skin with the same autofluorescence and biochemical components.
Via The Atlantic
4. Google is trying to unlock the secrets of aging
In 2013, Google founded Calico (California Life Company) which is focussed on aging and age-related diseases. Google co-founder, Larry Page, described Calico as a company focussed on “health, wellbeing and longevity” and in Sept last year Calico announced a $1.5bn partnership with pharmaceutical company, AbbVie to accelerate the discovery, development and commercialization of age-related conditions such as neurodegeneration and cancer.
5. Google Glass is being used in numerous ways in healthcare
Despite all the criticism of late and Google’s decision to cancel the public Explorer program, there are still high hopes for how hospitals can use Google Glass in the operating room. A number of hospitals around the world are experimenting with Glass to find innovative ways of adapting the head-mounted computer in a healthcare environment.
6. Google is developing a smart contact lens for people with diabetes
Partnering with global pharmaceutical company, Novartis, Google is developing a smart contact lens to help patients manage diabetes. The lens contains a microchip and a hair-thin electronic circuit that measures blood sugar levels directly from the tear fluid on the surface of the eyeball and transmits the data to a mobile device.
7. Google is attempting to simulate the human brain
Google acquired deep learning start-up, DeepMind, in January 2014 for a reported $400m and has since announced the launch of a computer that mimics the short-term memory of the human brain. The result is a computer that learns as it stores memories and can later retrieve them to perform logical tasks beyond those it has been trained to do. This neural network is based around the idea of creating a computer that simulates what happens in the human brain but implementing tweaks and changes to make it even more efficient.
8. Google wants to make medical records open for sharing
In an onstage interview with Charlie Rose at TED2014 conference in Vancouver, Google co-founder, Larry Page said, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone’s medical records were available anonymously to research doctors? We’d save 100,000 lives this year. We’re not really thinking about the tremendous good which can come from people sharing information with the right people in the right ways.”