Our own Roland Piquepaille has a feature today about CD players being used as health monitors.
It's a good example of technology re-use. A CD player makes a good detector when you have lots of relevant molecules in your sample, as when you're testing indoor air for dust.
It's a key point I've tried to make for four years, since I began studying what I call The World of Always-On in 2003. The chips and software needed to monitor health conditions are not expensive, and not complicated. They are, in fact, fairly low-end.
What I have suggested is that home routers can become application platforms for this data. The network can poll all the devices in a home regularly by radio, the required analysis software can be stored on the router, so even if you turn your PC off at night you're still covered.
While people continue to freak over the security implications of moving medical data around the home, modern encryption is pretty good, it's not processor-intensive when we're talking about small data loads, and the system could be quite effective.
While Intel has long been studying such systems for use by Alzheimer's patients, its useful in other diseases of aging, like my heart disease or my neighbor's diabetes care.
That's why, early this year, Intel formed its Behavioral Assessment and Intervention Commons (BAIC). Research results on these aging-in-place questions will be pooled, in an open source process, in order to accelerate the development of solutions.
My problem is that whenever this kind of research is discussed it's described as cutting-edge technology. It's not. The solutions Roland is describing do not require any high-end gear at all. The pieces, like CD players and WiFi routers, are cheap as chips.
What we really need, more than anything else, is a standard platform that will enable innovative solutions to emerge organically, as we have with WiFi. Aging is becoming a mass market, and without the development of solutions attuned to the mass market, we won't have any solutions at all.
Sensors, RFID chips, CD players, and wireless routers are becoming obsolete before their low prices can be adapted for use by new markets. It's one of the avoidable tragedies of Moore's Law.