Passionate, articulate designers talking about sensors in health

April 30, 2013

Last Wednesday, I was on a panel at Design West (the embedded systems conference). The panel was about using sensors in health applications. It was called Sensors Saving Lives and it was in the Expo Theater, right on the show floor, so there were lots of people walking by (and a good number sitting down, watching the panel).

We had some technical difficulties with mikes squealing at the very high range of hearing (it is always a bad sign when your audience is holding their ears). But that got fixed. And then things went well.

Our panel consisted of:

  • Christine Brumback, Director of Product Management at Fitbit, talking about their new Flex wrist based step-tracker (it will also track swimming and sleep).
  • Alissa Fitzgerald, CEO of AM Fitzgerald, a company that makes custom MEMS sensors (can you imagine your own sensor, sensing something new?), describing tiny (tiny!) pressure sensors for blood and cranial pressure.
  • Shena Park, Director of Product Development at iRhythm Technologies, discussing the challenges of ECG monitoring device intended for long-term wear.
  • Me! I was talking about a project I worked on about 18 months back: SpotOn, a non-invasive body temperature monitoring system for use in surgery and ICUs that recently made it thought clinical trials.
  • Jen Costillo, founder of RebelBot, was our moderator, making sure we stayed on topic and kept us going. (Jen was also my coconspirator in making this happen.)

Yeah, we had a panel at the embedded systems conference that consisted entirely of women. The attendance (and speakers) at the conference are primarily men so this is pretty odd.

We didn't get any negative comments. None. We did get lots of “neat topic” and “good information” comments.

Let's be really, annoyingly clear: it wasn't a panel about being women in technology. Those have their place (but I'm completely bored of the topic). It was a panel of women in technology talking about their tech and how awesome it is. Our post-panel questions were about health related embedded systems and about our particular areas of expertise. It rocked.

Every once in awhile I think “This! This is what I want to grow up to be!” This panel was one of those magical times.