A look into the future – Justin Smith – Calcivis Ltd

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  Posted by: Dental Design      3rd December 2018

The idea of being able to see into the future has fascinated people for centuries. This special power has been claimed by fortune tellers, soothsayers, oracles, prophets, witches, astrologists and clairvoyants since time began and most individuals at sometime during their life, have admitted that it would be useful if we could see what is ahead of us. Certainly, most people would love to know what the lottery numbers will be on Saturday but also, a peep into the future would enable us to prevent dangerand to reduce the anxiety and fear that is associated with the unknown.


For obvious reasons, if we were able to see into the future and to predict occurrences, there would be no surprises or events to look forward to. Things would happen exactly as we would expect. As it is, there are an infinite number of different futures and possibilities ahead of every individual person and only when measureable dimensions such as scientific information, probabilities and mathematics are applied can one attempt to present a possible prediction or forecast.


Fortunately, knowledge, technology and progress have all helped us to learn and create inventions that make our lives easier, more comfortable, less dangerous and some ways a little more predictable. For example, most drivers have a sat nav device in their car to find the most suitable route, keep them on course and even beat the traffic. And in the future, it is likely that our cars may be able to interact with other vehicles to prevent accidents, communicate with traffic lights to improve flow, handle fuel payments and even collect data and supply footage of incidents.


Already technology can plunge people into different surroundings and ‘realities’ and in industry, augmented reality with interactive virtual objects or digital content enables businesses to run with greater efficiency and lower costs. For example the logistics giant DHL recently discovered that they could increase the efficiency of their order pickers by 25 per cent by equipping them with smart glasses containing software to assist them to navigate the warehouse, locate and select items.[i]


This type of technology literally helps people to see what is around the corner, but it cannot predict what could happen next. Nevertheless, computer scientists from the University of Bonn have developed self-learning software that is able to look a few minutes ahead in time. During their studies, a computer‘watched’ hours of video showing people preparing breakfast meals and salads in order to ‘teach’ it to anticipate the next steps needed to prepare various meals. Algorithms were developed to identify which actions followed each other and how long they last, before it was able to anticipate what happens next with surprising accuracy in short forecast periods.[ii]This type of activity prediction is still in its infancy but there is tremendous potential for machines that can be taught tasks and anticipate what humans might typically do or need in a few minutes time.

Health care professionals cannot foresee what diseases or problems that patients might encounter in the future. However, extensive research, scientific evidence and modern technology enable them to determine the expected course of certain ailments or diseases and offer some relatively accurate forecasts. As well as this, medicine and technology continues to advance rapidly and recently there have been some remarkable innovations. Already implantable medical devices such as pacemakers have been developed to sense and measure a patient’s cardiac activity and provide remedial therapy when required.[iii]Now researchers have found that applying artificial intelligence to data retrieved from wearable technology may enable them to assess changes in aerobic responses, which one day, may be able to predict the onset of cardiovascular or respiratory disease.[iv]Furthermore, it has been suggested that instead of using biomarkers measured in the blood or by analysing genomic markers, there is the potential to use vocal intonations as a diagnostic and preventive tool for a range of different illnesses.[v]


In the dental sector, the CALCIVIS®imaging system is revolutionising preventive dentistry by helping practitioners to detect caries and dental erosion at its earliest, most reversible stages. Using a bioluminescent photoprotein, it produces light in the presence of free calcium ions released by actively demineralising tooth surfaces. An integral sensor then detects the bioluminescent signal and in just one second, displays a visual map of active demineralisation at the chair-side. The CALCIVIS imaging system is a valuable communication tool as it enables patients to see potential ‘hot spots’ and understand their oral health more easily. Then, with the expertise of their dental practitioner, effective preventive measures or treatment can be implemented to avoid more invasive or complex intervention further down the line.


Although it is impossible to see precisely what the future holds, advanced technology allows us to reduce uncertainty and obtain more insight, which in turn, helps us to make more accurate predictions and achieve better outcomes.


For more information visit www.CALCIVIS.com

or call 0131 658 5152

[i]Matt Looker. Seeing into the future – Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Realities. 26 Dec 2017. New Anglia Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering. http://www.naame.net/news/seeing-into-the-future-virtual-augmented-and-mixed-realities/[Accessed 16thJuly 2018]
[ii]Phys.org News. June 13 2018. University of Bonn. Computer program looks five minutes into the future. https://phys.org/news/2018-06-minutes-future.html[Accessed 16th July 2018]
[iii]Dell’Orto S. et al. Sensors for rate responsive pacing. Indian Pacing Electrophysiol J. 2004 Jul-Sep; 4(3): 137–145. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1501080/[Accessed 16thJuly 2018]
[iv]Science Daily. Science News 16thMay 2018. Wearable technology and A1 to predict the onset of health problems. Source: University of Waterloo. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180516123701.htm[Accessed 16th July 2018]
[v]Shaheed G. Vocal biomarkers: The future of diagnostic medicine. Wccftech. 2016. https://wccftech.com/vocal-biomarkers-future-of-diagnostic-medicine/[Accessed 16thJuly 2018]

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