Healthcare is undergoing a business model revolution. Technology is creating new competitors, new services and new ways for consumers to be involved in their own health. One day soon consumers may be able to give themselves an eye exam with a new system called NETRA.
This new system, called NETRA (Near-Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment), is a project of the MIT Media Lab’s Camera Culture research group. A small plastic device—which currently can be produced for less than $2 (US)—is easily clipped onto a mobile phone screen. To use it, simply hold the device up to the eye, look into it, and use the phone’s keypad until two patterns overlap. This is repeated several times per eye, with the patterns at different angles. The whole process takes about two minutes, during which time software loaded onto the phone computes and provides the data needed to create a prescription.
The small size and low cost of the device makes it especially well-suited for use in the developing world. As many as two billion people worldwide have refractive errors of the eye, and according to the World Health Organization, these errors, left uncorrected, are the world’s second-highest cause of blindness. This is just the beginning of the many ways technology innovation will fill in the gaps in health service, placing our health literally in our hands.
Photo Credit, MIT Media Lab, Camera Culture Group
Donna Sturgess is the President and Co-founder of Buyology Inc and former Global Head of Innovation for GlaxoSmithKline. Her latest book is Eyeballs Out: How To Step Into Another World, Discover New Ideas, and Make Your Business Thrive