Monday, January 08, 2007

The Consumer Electronics Show starts in a few hours in Las Vegas. Bill Gates is scheduled to deliver the keynote (as he has done the last 8-9 years). I have been following the show over the last 4 years (from a distance, have not yet had a chance to visit). The focus has been almost only entertainment related topics and more recently on mobile and wireless topics. While most agree that consumer technology is much more than just entertainment, it is entertainment that drives the volumes and the development of technologies. This year, I noticed that (probably for the first time) CES has a topic on healthcare. I’m referring to “The Future of Consumer Electronics: Convergence with Home Health”.

What triggered this post was a poster I saw while watching the Christmas season special of Extreme Makeovers : Home Edition. The focus of this episode was rebuilding a free clinic in Los Angeles, USA. The poster at the clinic said "Health care is not a privilege it is a basic right". Living in Norway, I tend to take basic healthcare services for granted (they are a basic right mandated by law). Well, this is not a “social work” post; it is about an integration solution creating a win-win-win-wn-win proposition for players in different industries – broadcast, audio, video and display devices, software, broadband --- and ofcourse government, insurance and home security. The benefits are easy to comprehend but some very relevant questions need to be addressed. Questions like
• Who initiates and drives such a project?
• What type of governance structure does such a project need?
• How is a business case formed? Or metrics does one need to measure value?
The technology is probably the least challenging part; but add to the list of questions “patents” and “intellectual property” issues and a nightmare project emerges. So, is this a government or commercial? I’d say a joint-venture?

Hopefully, we have learned from creating railway tracks with different gauges, and can secure digital railway standardization quickly. Or can we? This infrastructure will drive value creation in the Digital Society – with new intermediaries, standards and protocols for digital services. I called this infrastructure “Societal Digital Infrastructure” and am hoping the entertainment industry can play an active role in accelerating the development of this infrastructure. Perhaps we, in the Nordics can leverage our investments in societal infrastructure to exploit hardware and software technologies to create such an infrastructure. Why not use the Nordics as a test-bed for advanced societal services? After all, we showed the way with mobile technologies….

Health care services/solutions was the theme for last year's "Imagine Cup" (Microsoft's student programming challenge competition). I saw some interesting solutions from the Nordics. So, I’m curious as to what Bill Gates would say in his opening keynote starting in a couple of hours… Could he trigger something ambitious enough to match Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child education project?

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