Medtech Innovation in the iPhone ecosystem

iPhone 6Last week I wrote a brief note about the thin service layer towards end customers, that at this moment in 2015 effectively facilitates internets breakthrough as the primary platform for commerce.

At the core of the customer interface today is not computers but smartphones and tablets. There are two essential product elements that have substantial influence and drive the customer value of a smartphone, and consequently the growth of the Google Android and Apple IOS ecosystems:

  1. The smartphone itself, and
  2. The innovative apps, services and contents on the smartphone

The first element is in Apple´s and Google’s and Android phone manufacturers hands, while the second element depends on developers and content and service providers and their innovations in form of apps and services. Also, to an increasing degree, new “killer apps” come as a combination of add-on hardware and software app.

The smartphone operating systems are designed for this purpose, focusing on two matters:

  • To shape an effective and large scale pipeline from app and service production to app consumption and the smartphone, that organises on one end, millions of app developers and service providers who bring innovative apps and services to hundreds of millions of smartphone users who consume them and pay for it.
  • To provide leverage for developers and service providers to effectively run their businesses within the ecosystem and to reduce their investment and risk while gaining reach to the full extent of the ecosystem platform.

The new app innovations comes as products for the mass market, and as niche products. I will give an example of both.

Screenshot 2015-06-23 07.11.12We all take pictures with our phones but some of us who remain used to more professional cameras may want to upgrade the experience. There is no shortage of companies that will sell us a way to do that, usually by attaching things like lenses that modify your phone’s own lens, like the Olloclip lenses. The problem with attaching an optical lens in front of the phones own lens is that the combination degrades the phone´s already mediocre image quality.

That’s where the new DxO One camera comes in. It is another take on strapping a separate camera sensor and lens system to your iPhone, and it is the best one yet. The add on camera is small and it attaches via the lightning port. Once it’s attached the camera can swivel up to 60 degrees forward and backward. The corresponding app launches immediately and photos taken with the camera’s shutter button appear instantly.

The sensor is 20.2 megapixel and pictures are saved directly in the iPhone. The DxO One is a good example of mass market innovation, built on the smartphone ecosystem with both an hardware add on and an app. The basic app is included and there are add on software apps for professional photographers that can be bought separately.

img_1865edThen there are niche products that bring killer apps to the ecosystem. Today I read about one new, truly innovative product for the iPhone. The innovators of an iPhone based eye-examination kit have raised $6.1 million to bring eye care across the globe, by launching a combination of hardware device and software application that can replace the the equipment needed to carry out a proper eye examination, which typically costs $20-40,000.

Smart Vision Labs SVOne aims to reduce that cost to just $4,000 by using an iPhone as part of the kit. The iPhone takes a series of photos of the eye, while an app performs the analysis and generates a prescription, as can be seen in the video demo below. This is truly a good example of medtech innovation, combining hardware and software, and built on an existing technology ecosystem.

Smart Vision Labs demo

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