Government involvement is often a mixed bag when it comes to the development of new technologies. There is definitely an upside to having an organization with huge amounts of money to spend supporting your new ideas. On the other hand it can be quite the burden to wade through new regulations, or to compete with the aforementioned deep pockets.
In this case I think we are looking at a beneficial relationship that should aid in the development of new mHealth technologies.
One of the limiting factors when it comes to any technology is the infrastructure needed to support it. It is all well and good to have an idea that will change the world, but if the platform doesn’t exist to support it, then it really doesn’t matter.
The FCC has now taken it upon themselves to put their own backing into the development of mHealth technologies. Steps such as reinforcing the broadband networks in less developed areas, and even establishing a health care director at the FCC to focus on health related issues.
Some of coolest technology that was discussed by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is the development of Medical Body Area Networks (MBAN) and Medical Micropower Networks (MMN).
MBANs are networks made of wireless sensors as small as a band-aid that can monitor a patient’s vitals and send that data to healthcare providers. The US is the first country in the world to make spectrum available for this use.
MMNs have the potential to provide even more life-changing results. They involve low power wideband networks of transmitters that essentially replace damaged or destroyed nerve cells. This technology could help paraplegics learn to walk again, and even restore vision in some cases.
It truly never ceases to amaze me what the human mind can create, and it is reassuring to see a government agency that is making a concerted effort to try to foster that development. Opening the door for these technologies is a huge step towards developing technologies that will change the lives of millions.