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Written by Alex Butler

What Issues Will Drive Tomorrow's IP?

IPVision was actively involved in producing one of the most talked about sessions at the recent IP Business Congress in Boston. The session, moderated by MIT Technology Review Deputy Editor Brian Bergstein, departed from the intellectual property theme of the overall conference and shifted the discussion to the forces and efforts driving technology research and development ... in other words, what will be "Tomorrow's IP."

MIT Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Michael Cima spoke to the macro economic forces at play, particularly healthcare, that provide tremendous needs and are driving capital investment and government attention. Technology is at the center of this issue, with new advances in understanding human genetics and conditions rapidly progressing.

Leslie Williams, President and CEO of ImmusanT, spoke from the perspective of developing diagnostic and therapeutic technology for celiac disease. And not just a treatment, but a cure to the auto-immune condition. Gluten-intolerance effects approximately 1-2% of the human population -- and ImmusanT is pursuing this aggressively. 

In addition to the macro or "top down" forces, Leon Sandler, the Executive Director of MIT's Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, provided interesting examples of "bottom up" or consumer-driven innovation fed from other industries. One example he discussed is using an Apple iPhone and software to provide a portable, low cost, optic evaluation for eye-sight. This "reuse" of technology (a $2-3 optical sensor) in a mobile device might revolutionize eye-care in emerging and remote markets.

Other examples provided, among many, include gaining a better understanding of personal hydration -- both on a personal data collection perspective and in a clinically valid perspective -- with under-hydration and over-hydration both providing serious health consequences. Whether a personal fitness monitor (sub-$100) or a professional-grade monitor for health and high-risk settings, advances in this area will provide substantial benefits to individuals.

The debate turned to the changing issues surrounding privacy. This affects everything from clinical trial consent restrictions (experienced by ImmusanT and others in the healthcare field) to more open, crowd-sourced "opt-in" and "opt-out" models found in social applications such as the traffic monitoring service Waze (announced acquisition of $1.3 billion). The panel and audience discussed directions and trade-offs for privacy with Williams observing that "personal medicine is here" and that we need to be sensitive to these issues as society still does not fully understand the value and implications.  

IPVision was excited to be able to help put this panel together for IPBC attendees. We routinely evaluate emerging technologies, innovative companies, and researchers and will provide additional insights into many of the topics covered in this panel in the coming weeks and months. Please subscribe to our blog to stay on top of this discussion or leave a comment below.

Categories: Innovation, Patent Analysis, Technology Review