A Healthier Life Through Technology and Design
–Finnish innovations for exercise recovery, pain relief, visual performance and more
Some of the most interesting innovations in the world today happen where technology and design meet. In few places is this as evident as in healthcare – new products and services are constantly emerging that make daily life easier, ease the symptoms of a difficult condition, or make it easier for healthcare personnel to help their patients. There’s a crop of new Finnish companies that are improving healthcare in leaps and bounds with their technical know-how and design sensibilities.
Health is increasingly on people’s minds: Consumers are more willing than ever to be proactive concerning their wellbeing by utilizing new products, services, and apps. Now, it’s easier than ever, thanks to the constant cycle innovation in healthcare and health products.
The duality of technology and design is a positive spiral: The technological innovations allow care methods, self-care, and even new treatments to take shape, while design ensures that solutions are usable enough for patients with potential mobility challenges and functional to the point where large-scale adoption by healthcare instances is feasible.
Cold treatment from the Finns
The Finns have a long history with ice swimming. This sub-zero activity lends itself well to healthcare, too. Amandan Solutions has designed a new cold treatment that is both convenient and cost-efficient.
The inventor, Panu Vapaavalta, is an avid aviator. During one flight he stuck his finger out the window and noticed that the mist outside is a very efficient cooling agent. This inspired him to take this simple realization to a completely new context – using mist to cool the human body. After the ’Heureka!’ moment, the idea was taken to the Arctic Power cold laboratory in Rovaniemi, Finland, and along other professionals, Finnish design powerhouse Harri Koskinen took part in the project. The end product is a simple mist-producing frame that is easy to install both in hospitals and homes.
Cold treatment has been proven effective in the treatment of inflammatory arthritis and recovery from athletic activities, along with other positive effects. Many rheumatism patients have also found Amandan to alleviate their pain and the product has gained the endorsement of the Finnish Rheumatism Association. The positive effects of cold treatment have been known for a while now, but the revolutionary aspect of Amandan’s solution lies in the ease of installation, ease of use and cheap price. Cold treatment has now been made available to the masses.
Not just the eyes, but what’s behind them
‘You’re not seeing this page with your eyes’, state Ocusweep. Their innovation is to focus on vision – not just eyes, but the brain functions behind seeing. They’ve coined the term ’visual performance’, which describes how the eyes and the brain function together to create vision. Measuring visual performance is important for detecting eye diseases and for deciding the effectiveness of treatment of eye conditions.
The applications of Ocusweep are still being discovered, as the technology is still new. It has been used for assessing a person’s suitability to some visually demanding job functions or sports, for instance. The test itself measures three areas – visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, visual field and reaction time perimetry. For the person tested, the actual tests themselves are a bit like the ones we’re used to taking at the optician, but yield much more information through more sophisticated methods.
Their eye measurement systems are currently offered in Finland, Scandinavia and the UK, and they’re looking to expand their operations.
Safety through location
9Solutions has location-based services that significantly improve the lives of people under care. They provide a wide range of systems – for instance, care phones and activity monitoring for people under home care, nurse call systems and location services for care homes, assault alarms for healthcare professionals. Their wireless cloud-based approach is designed to form a comprehensive system for personnel and patient safety and getting an easy overview.
9Solutions’ approach is best illustrated with an example: Let’s say you have a loved one with memory disorders in home care. Thanks to the system, they can safely move both in- and outdoors. If they leave the safe area, a notification goes out so they can be assisted. The system figures out whether there’s an odd exception to their routine, or if they just went to get the paper, so needless alarms are decreased. There’s also activity monitoring, which enables the system to call for help, even when the person cannot call for help him/herself.
9Solutions features a desktop and mobile app for an easy overview of the system. The company’s philosophy is to have smart technology taking care of most of the background tasks, freeing up time for personal interaction and the human side of healthcare.
Design allows technology to perform
Where technology is often the driving force for a product to take shape, design is what makes it easy enough to use, pretty enough that people want it in their homes and their simple enough design allows cost-efficient production. The innovations in this article follow in the footsteps of companies like, Beddit, a Finnish service created for tracking sleep that was recently acquired by Apple. Finnish health design is at a rapid rise – keep an eye out for Amandan, Ocusweep, 9Solutions, and many more to come.