The Journey Towards Universal, Affordable Internet Access

mccabe_affordable_internetFrom knowledge gathering to communication to commerce, the Internet is an amazing tool benefiting those with access. Recently, the global conversation around universal, affordable Internet access has seen a shift from asking “why” it is important to determining “how” it’s accomplished. The complex landscape of geographic markets, regulatory environments, and behavioral norms are just a few examples of challenges this endeavor faces. In Engadget’s recent Public Access article Universal, Affordable Internet Access: From ‘Why?’ to ‘How?’, Karen McCabe, Senior Director of Technology Policy and International Affairs at IEEE Standards Association, discusses the importance of sharing challenges, opportunities, requirements, and lessons learned across traditionally “silo-ed” disciplines for the realization of universal, affordable Internet. 

Cross-disciplinary collaboration is key to removing roadblocks and accelerating cost-efficient progress towards universal, affordable Internet access. The IEEE Internet Initiative is a cross-organizational, multi-domain community that connects technologists and policy makers from around the word to help facilitate conversations across disciplines and work towards solutions. As Karen stresses in her article, open communication is crucial to connecting those who are being left behind, so whether you are in technology or policy it’s time to work together towards creating a connected world.

Pharma Blockchain Bootcamp – Speakers Perspectives on Blockchain

IEEE-SA is pleased to support the Pharma Blockchain Bootcamp presented by DisruptiveRX. The event provides an introduction to blockchain technology and the key areas where applications could have a significant impact in securing, managing and leveraging of data throughout the enterprise from R&D to clinical to commercialization. Key issues to be addressed: what exactly is blockchain and why is it considered a disruptive innovation, wherein the pharma enterprise and what can blockchain enhance; the business, legal, and regulatory considerations with implementation and more.

Here, speakers were asked to discuss the technical merits of their presentations at DisruptiveRX. Leonard Kish, Co-Founder, YouBase, provides his perspective on Blockchain by addressing the following questions.

  1. What is blockchain in your terms? 

Blockchain is a a shared and unchangeable list of addresses, events and timestamps that a computer network agrees are true and valid. The addresses are public private key pairs that could belong to people or objects. The events could be transactions, or a bit of content or even code. The list is verified and maintained by every computer on the network.

  1. How will it change the way the world works?  

Having a single, trusted “version of reality” that can’t be changed has big implications.  For many of our trusted institutions, this is a core part of why they exist, from banks, to governments (think about providing your birth certificate or the deed to your home). If we can trust the protocol of blockchain to establish the trust needed between individuals to do business, we can decentralize a lot of how we do things far beyond just banking.  We can sell, buy, trade, provide services, and coordinate activities easier. We’ll simply be able to do more, faster with lower risk across a wide variety of use cases. 

  1. What type of standards/open source bases will need to exist for your view to be realized?

Blockchain is largely open source. It couldn’t have reached critical mass any other way. Each node in a bitcoin network has to be open and available so people can implement them quickly, and the same for individuals and their wallets. Openness and open source is another layer consensus-driven trust. Part of the issues that have come up, such as block size, require all nodes to “hard fork” which, in a network without governance, becomes a real challenge. Changes will always be needed, improvements will always be needed, and that will require some governance, but mixing in governance with the open, peer to peer ethos of blockchain will be challenging. The key will be to do it in a way that supports the culture, how do we get to consensus-driven governance that’s aligned with the principles of the system?

leonardkish_photo_smallLeonard Kish, MBA, MSIS, is a regular writer, blogger, and contributor to and The Health Care Blog and has become a leading advocate for patient engagement and the decentralization of health care system. He has advised multiple leading companies driving the digital health revolution and is currently an advisor to Self Care Catalysts, a patient behavioral analytics company and is also a Co-founder of YouBase. 

He has a breadth of experience across, healthcare, biomedical science and software platform development.

Mr. Kish received his undergraduate degree in Zoology from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and then continued on to receive a Master of Business Administration degree, a Master of Science degree in Information Systems, and a Master in Biomedical Sciences degree from the University of Colorado in Denver.

Why standards are needed in medical devices

Advancing HealthTech for Humanity™

People shouldn’t have to reverse engineer their own medical devices. But, a lot of us do.

Medical device hardware and software has historically been very slow to evolve, but the non-medical technology available to an average person is now sufficient to encourage exploration of our medical devices. And many of us are unsatisfied with what we find.

How I started to exploring my own medical devices

I have lived with type 1 diabetes for more than 14 years. For the longest time, I accepted that there were critical flaws with the devices that were supposed to keep me alive. After all, I’m a patient – I’m supposed to be “patient” and wait for advancements in technology or a cure that are often promised to be “5 years from now”. But every night that I went to sleep, I was at risk of dying from hypoglycemia if I did not wake up to the alarms of my continuous glucose monitor. And the built-in device alarms were not loud enough to wake me up.

Frustrated, I accepted that I couldn’t change the physical medical device. But I knew that if I could somehow free my own data from the physical device, I could send it to my phone or any number of other devices where I could make the alarms louder. I didn’t have any way to do that until John Costik tweeted about pulling his son’s CGM data and sending it to the cloud. I asked John to share his code so I could do the same. This was my first exposure to open source and exploring my own medical devices, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

dana-lewis-and-openaps-rig I closed the loop – but it could have been easier

After creating a louder alarm system for myself, I iterated and built an algorithm that predicted the outcomes of certain actions that I would take that would influence my blood glucose levels. Essentially it was an “open loop”, although we just called it a “smart alarm” system at the time. Within a year, we realized that could be combined with Ben West’s years of work to decode communication with the insulin pump and enable a person to actually send commands remotely to the insulin pump. This is what enabled us to close the loop.

In one sense, closing the loop was ridiculously easy, especially since we had built and had been testing this algorithm for over a year. But, in another sense, looking at the years Ben spent figuring out the communication that the pump did, it WAS hard. And it continues to be hard for end users to reverse engineer and decode the communications of our medical devices. It definitely shouldn’t be this way.

what-an-openaps-looks-like-by-danamlewisA call to action for standards and clearly documented communication protocols in medical devices

This is why we need standards. We need manufacturers to have something to lean on, to ensure that data is created by devices and accessible by users in a uniform way. We need to have clearly documented communication protocols for controlling our medical devices, rather than relying on security by obscurity, or locking down devices to prevent users from controlling them.

We are at the point where we patients have the same access to tools and technology as manufacturers and developers. Instead of being scared, manufacturers should look at this as an opportunity to get more real-time feedback and fixes to ultimately approve their devices and tools. This what the speed of evolving technology will enable – if healthcare and medical device manufacturers are willing to embrace it. This is the future, but it’s also possible today.

Dana Lewis is one of the founders of #OpenAPS, an open source movement to make artificial pancreas technology available more quickly. You can hear her talk about OpenAPS and open source in this OSCON keynote. For more about OpenAPS, check out

Assistive Technology Hackathon


By Pradeep Balachandran, Chair IEEE Communications Disability SIG, Mohan Kumar, V P Megachips, Munir Mohammed, Program Specialist ComSoc & eHealth,

Bringing enhanced abilities for those with disabilities through the advancement of technology and standards development is a primary goal of the IEEE Communications Disability Special Interest Group. Towards that end, it recently sponsored an Assistive Technology Hackathon that was held on 24 September 2016 in coordination with All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH), Mysuru, India. This collaborative effort reached out to the engineering student community inviting them to apply their collective talent and potential by proposing abstracts and participating in hackathon.

Assistive Technology encompasses any item, piece of equipment or product system that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities, including commercially acquired items that may have been modified or customized. Advances in Assistive Technology can bring benefit to individuals with communication disorders and a variety of congenital conditions such as cerebral palsy and autism, as well as incidental conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, traumatic brain injury and aphasia.

The Assistive Technology Hackathon call for proposals reached all of the Engineering and Research Institutions in Mysuru through the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology (EMBS) chapters and IEEE Student Branches. In response, 46 abstract proposals were received and reviewed, of which 26 were approved for presentation. At the culmination of the hackathon eight teams were selected by the judges for technical supervision and clinical immersion at All India Institute for Speech and Hearing.  In addition, three cash prizes were awarded to the following teams:

1st Prize: Sign Language Recognition  (TS307) – M.I.T. Mysuru

2nd Prize: Hand Talk (TS207) – N.I.E. Mysuru

3rd Prize: e-Module for listening comprehension (TS302) – AIISH, Mysuru

The teams to be inducted by AIISH included:

  • Intelligent interactive front desk enquiry system (TS105) – G.S.S.S. IETW, Mysuru
  • Low cost device for prolong hearing (TS106) – A.T.M.E. College of Engineering, Mysuru
  • Hand Talk (TS207) – N. I. E., Mysuru
  • Symbolic language to text and speech conversion (TS301) – Vidya Vardhaka, Mysuru
  • Real time text to speech conversion and translation system (TS303) – S.J.C.E., Mysuru
  • Text to speech – Speech to text conversion and implementation (TS304) – NIE-IT, Mysuru
  • Sign Language Recognition (SLR) (TS307) – M. I. T., Mysuru
  • Yantrika Vani, Kannada (Regional Language) Text-to-Speech System (TS308) – Vidya Vikas, Mysuru

The Assistive Technology Hackathon helped build a bridge between the user community, academics and industry, as well as providing the opportunity for students to potentially be offered internships at companies attending the hackathon, including Philips, Skanray Technologies and Titan Company Limited. It also marked the formation and possible extension of a special interest group for the visually challenged, also supported by the IEEE Standards Association.

The Hindu, a major national newspaper in India, provided coverage of the event.

Conversation Starter: Ethics and Augmented Reality

ethics-and-augmented-realityTechnologies such as big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) are emerging today in fields such as healthcare with wearables opening a new channel of data for patient care and research and consumer electronics with smart fridges, thermostats and other connected, programmable appliances. Now imagine a future where these technologies work seamlessly together creating a personalized, customizable world. Pulling from real-time health data, purchasing habits, tastes, and more, this augmented reality (AR) promises a completely personalized display for a person at any given moment. However, as AR advancements become an integral part of everyday life, there are certain social and ethical implications that must be addressed. In Engadget’s recent Public Access article Mixed Reality, AI, and Randomness, Jay Iorio, Director of Innovation at IEEE Standards Association, raises important ethical questions that must be considered as AR/VR technology matures.

Answering and considering social and ethical questions is becoming an integral part of technology development. Concerned with how technology impacts the world and how the application of technology can improve the world, the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (IEEE SSIT) formed to address questions beyond the technical aspects. As Jay states in his article, “the ethical questions raised by this convergence of emerging technologies are unique in history,” so it is important to invest time and start the conversation now on ethics and augmented reality.

IEEE Formally Launches IEEE Standards University

standards-university-blogJoint program of IEEE Standards Association and IEEE Educational Activities Board offers comprehensive standards education worldwide

It’s a given that standards and standards development are elemental to an engineering education, as they play a critical role in driving innovation, adding value to product design and development, and making a global impact in advancing technology. In response to recognition that there is a growing need for more comprehensive educational materials related to standards and standards development, IEEE has formally launched IEEE Standards University (ISU), a joint program of IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) and IEEE Educational Activities Board (IEEE EAB).

Designed for educators, students, engineers, or anyone interested in standards, IEEE Standards University brings a better understanding of the value and impact of standards in business and manufacturing. Participants can draw from a variety of materials that build a practical understanding of standards and the innovation derived from standards development. The varied resources may help improve team working and collaborative skills invaluable to career success, while enhancing understanding of standards in fields such as electrical and electronics engineering, computing, and many others.

A key first engagement point with ISU is through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are offered jointly by IEEE and edX, a leading provider of online learning based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and governed by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The first IEEE Standards Education MOOC, Innovation and Competition: Succeeding through Global Standards,” ran six weeks from 29 March to 13 May 2016 to a registered participant base of almost 3,000 individuals from 135 countries.

The Standards MOOC provides a full survey of fundamental standardization themes, including an introduction to standards and standards history, basic concepts and classifications, along with crucial topics like innovation, global markets, trade, implementation, conformity assessment, regulation, intellectual property, and motivating factors in standards development. What’s more, if a university would like to run the Standards MOOC as part of a course for paid college credit, IEEE can offer a license to achieve that.

“Standards play an important role in engineering, technology and computing fields that are at the forefront of advancing technology for the benefit of all,” says Konstantinos Karachalios, Managing Director for IEEE-SA. “IEEE-SA is committed to continue in our efforts to work collaboratively to help bridge the gap between the classroom and the professional world by encouraging standards education as part of engineering curriculums around the world.”

ISU also offers a freely available e-Magazine, with a worldwide audience of educators, students, and practicing professionals interested in technical standards and standards development.

A new, highly engaging offering from ISU is the release of Mars Space Colony: A Game of Standardization, the first standards development simulation game crafted by experts with 20+ years’ experience in real-world technical standards development. The game is designed to teach about technical standards and standards development while developing team and negotiation skills. Topics include the importance of standards to industry, fundamentals of standards development, and a case study on standards. Players participate as members of standards working groups, incorporating roles that reflect the economic, political and technical realities of standards development. IEEE experts can offer support, share ideas, and provide guidance to help Game Masters achieve effective outcomes in efforts to develop the standards needed to create a viable Mars colony.

“IEEE Standards University represents a milestone achievement in providing the resources needed to advance standards and standards development education,” said Jamie Moesch, Managing Director, IEEE Educational Activities. “We are encouraged by the initial response we’ve seen to ISU, and look forward to continuing in our efforts to further standards education through new, innovative and engaging offerings that bring real value to educators, students and engineering professionals worldwide.”

To learn more, visit the IEEE Standards University homepage.

Advancing HealthTech for Humanity during National Healthcare IT Week (and beyond)

#AHT4H #VBlockchain #IEEESA

With it being National Health IT Week, what better topics to touch on than blockchain and healthcare!

Blockchain is everywhere. No matter where you look, and who you speak to these days, the expected implications of the technology are considered to be game changing – and rightfully so. With the ability to impact the way we trust, anonymize, identify and engage through the distributed ledger technology, the applications can span far and wide with potentially positive results across various sectors. Examples include – greater patient autonomy and ownership in their information; addressing counterfeiting in the supply chain; transactive energy; counterfeit management; considerations towards a potentially trust-worthy IoT; and hundreds of other applications.

In order to realize these outcomes, we need to get beyond the hype and better cultivate an understanding of and accessibility to the technology; and the necessary hands-on expertise with greater scale. With this, the opportunity to innovate using the distributed ledger technology today and develop impactful applications across a variety of industries and across a number of value chains becomes much more feasible.

The Advancing HealthTech for Humanity Virtual Blockchain Workshop,(September 22nd – October 21st) targets to support this through a first of its kind, innovative virtual workshop focused on increasing blockchain awareness and skills to make progress towards critical challenges in healthcare today. With expertise on the technology and on the challenges available to offer participants guidance across the journey, the outcomes for all could be very promising. The most impactful submissions will also be noted at the IEEE Computer Society’s Rock Stars of Emerging Technologies event in the Silicon Beach area in Southern California. It is worth noting that in order to allow for greater accessibility, the workshop organizers have agreed to make this a no fee event for participants; and the equally as such for in-kind platform and problem sponsors.

To learn more about our sponsoring experts, platforms and challenges, or to sign up to participate today – visit us at

Interested in showcasing your platform? Have a great healthcare challenge to address via blockchain? Get involved and make a difference today.

  • If you are a blockchain platform with an interest in providing our virtual workshop participants the ability to learn about the technology and use your platform to make a potential impact contact Lloyd Green at
  • If you have an identified healthcare sector challenge and personally have expertise in the topic or know someone that does, please contact Albert Waldhuber at