Great Minds Ponder "Dashboard" for the Human Body

July 23, 2003

Richard Saul Wurman would like to take his temperature—and to monitor all his vital signs, like heart and respiration rate and blood pressure—continuously.

Then, if a health problem came up, a signal would flash—rather like the light on a dashboard that says "Check Engine."

"Why do we know more about our cars than our bodies?" asks Wurman. "Why is there no dashboard for the human body?"

"I would like to have in my hand, right now, some little PDA that has my blood pressure, my pulse readings, and all the things about my bloods, my lipids and my schmipids and all those things. Why can't we have that in our hand? The fact is we can."

To satisfy his curiosity, and to explore medicine's frontiers, Wurman organized TEDMED3, a conference last month in Philadelphia.

Wurman is the founder and longtime ringmaster of the celebrated TED conferences in Monterey, California, for leaders in technology, entertainment and design.

TEDMED3—the technology, entertainment, and design of medicine—is the answer to "can't see the forest for the trees" syndrome. It's about bringing together top minds from very different fields to recognize ideas and patterns that aren't always clear from within one's given discipline.

The conference attracted a typical Wurman cross disciplinary crowd of specialists in artificial intelligence and robotics, CEOs, dancers, entrepreneurs, singers and surgeons, along with Nobel Prize laureate Kary Mullis.

"The key is to live better, not necessarily longer," to prevent rather than having to cure, to delay age-related diseases "and to postpone disability until the very end of life," says Dr. Sherwin Nuland, a professor of surgery at the Yale School of Medicine, in New Haven, and author of the best-selling How We Die.

Body Sensors, Armbands, Orbs, and Smart Shirts

One way to help achieve those goals is for people to monitor their health more regularly.

Continued on Next Page >>


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