Dr. Jody Ranck, EVP, Global Strategy at Ram Global, sat down with me for a thought-provoking discussion around digital health, innovation, connected health, AI, ethics, blockchain, disruptive cooperation, smart cities, health data analytics, and much more.
Below is a short snippet of our conversation:
Q: Can you speak a little bit more in-depth about why you see Gallium Nitride (GaN) sensor technology as being the future?
A: Sure! The best illustration of the distinction between GaN and silicon is the sensors that we use for monitoring your heart and lung function. If you look at a silicon chip under an electron microscope, you would see that the surface of that chip is very jagged. That means when particles that you’re trying to detect hit the chip, they’re scattered because of the jaggedness, and that creates noise, which makes it hard to detect very subtle signals in the body.
If you compare that to Gallium Nitride, we can spontaneously grow a perfect crystalline structure on a chip. The difference is that silicon, it’s like if you drove a truck to a full blast into a forest, what would come out the other end might be one or two tires. GaN would be like if you clear the forest and the truck drove through with very little damage. There’s a lot of interesting physics involved with this obviously and then material sciences. If you recall back to high school math in your Fibonacci numbers, our logo is a representation of Fibonacci numbers because that’s the lattice that we grow and is indebted to Fibonacci sequences and so forth, and these structures that you find in nature that enable that perfect crystalline lattice.
The clinical difference is that from touching any point on your body, we can do a full EKG, continuous blood pressure, heart rate, heart rate variability, as well as some of the pulmonary artery dynamics. Right now, it requires a heart catheterization where they implant the sensor inside the body. We can get all of that data and it’s more accurate from several different vantage points. The main thing is, if you look at the traditional sensor that’s used in your Apple Watch, for example, for the EKG, you’re measuring the depolarization of the whole heart. With our sensors, we’re getting the electrical signals and the biomechanical movements in every cell in your heart and lungs, then calculating and producing that signal for your EKG. We’re getting a lot more data, so you can actually detect things.
The future of that type of sensing will be that–there are devices that may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions even such as MRIs and CT scans–eventually, we may be able to do some of that with very low-cost devices that can be in the home, you’re not exposed to radiation, they’re non-invasive, and so forth. When we get there is the big question, but it’s not as far on the horizon as we used to think with some of the advances in material sciences…
For more of our discussion, you can watch the whole Fireside Chat with Dr. Jody Ranck, or listen to the podcast version, below.
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