THE NEW VALUE FRONTIER
Interview

Using the Power of Technology to Help People Live Healthier, More Fulfilling Lives
Kyocera’s Innovations in Preventive Medicine

Medical & Healthcare
Introduction

Anticipating the “100-Year Lifespan” Era
Proprietary Device Helps Extend Healthy Life Expectancy

Carbohydrate Monitoring System

As the realization of the so-called “100-year lifespan” era edges closer, the biggest issue we face is how to extend people’s healthy life expectancy and enable individuals to live more fulfilling lives. Preventive medicine is gaining attention as one solution to this problem. Careful, appropriate management of body weight and diet on a daily basis can help prevent lifestyle diseases.

Hoping to contribute to a society in which people can live long and happy lives, Kyocera has been engaged in the development of devices, software, and AI technology that support the extension of healthy life expectancy. One of the fruits of these efforts is a device that enables individuals to easily check and manage their health.
Through the development of this cutting-edge simple and compact health management tool, Kyocera aims to contribute to improved health and QOL.

Technology Data

Carbohydrate Monitoring System

Equipped with a gyro sensor and smartphone app compatibility, Kyocera’s Carbohydrate Monitoring System is a world’s first*1 technology development. By analyzing changes in pulse-wave patterns before and after meals, this monitoring system can estimate carbohydrate metabolism. It is a brand new, non-invasive*2 device concept that replaces the discomfort and pain of needles associated with conventional carbohydrate monitors.
To use the system, users simply need to hold the device to their wrist one hour after eating. The device links to their smartphone via Bluetooth® and starts to measure small changes in their blood’s pulse-wave patterns. As glucose levels rise after eating, minor changes occur in these pulse waves. A distinguishing feature of this new device is its ability to measure these changes.

Measurement is completed in just ten seconds. Results are then sent to the user’s smartphone, allowing them to easily grasp their carbohydrate metabolism. The measurements can also be compared to past data, helping users to manage their health through food intake, and see the results of a low-carb diet.

*1:World’s first radial arterial pulse-wave gyro sensor. (As of October 28, 2019; survey conducted by Kyocera)

*2:Method that doesn’t require instruments to be inserted into the skin, etc.

*The Bluetooth® word mark and logos are registered trademarks owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and any use of such marks by Kyocera Corporation is under license.

01

A Device Design for At-Home Health Management
Behind the Development of the Carbohydrate Monitoring System

The Research Promotion Department in Kyocera’s Medical R&D Center led the development of the Carbohydrate Monitoring System. Here, a new employee from the Medical R&D Center speaks to department managers about Kyocera’s research innovations, their struggles with product development, and their vision for the future.
  • Deputy Senior Manager
    Research Promotion Department
    Medical R&D Center
    Corporate R&D Group
  • Medical Unit Development Engineer
    Research Promotion Department
    Medical R&D Center
    Corporate R&D Group
  • Medical Unit Development Engineer
    Research Promotion Department
    Medical R&D Center
    Corporate R&D Group
  • How did development of the Carbohydrate Monitoring System come about?

  • I was originally involved in smartphone app development for healthcare-related products in the telecommunications department, and it was then that I realized that smartphones’ gyro sensors could be used to measure pulse waves. At first, I thought the technology could be used in monitoring blood pressure.

  • So, at the start, you didn’t plan on developing a device to monitor carbohydrate levels?

  • That’s right. We only realized during development that because pulse waveforms change depending on food intake, they weren’t ideal indicators for estimating blood pressure. But because we didn’t want to give up, we continued our research and discovered that pulse waveforms change in the same way as blood glucose levels before and after meals. So we switched our development to focus on using pulse waves to estimate blood glucose levels and carbohydrate metabolism.

  • It’s amazing that this technology came about only by chance.

  • In our research, we’d long been investigating how blood glucose levels change depending on neutral fats and nutritional state. Through this we came to realize the importance of a device that could prevent lifestyle diseases such as diabetes in advance.

  • Were there any particular struggles during development?

  • The most difficult part was creating algorithms to estimate carbohydrate metabolism, neutral fat levels, and blood glucose levels from pulse waveforms. We needed to collect huge amounts of data to analyze the algorithms, and so we had to ask actual hospitals and patients for their help. Another difficult aspect was creating a sensor to accurately measure pulse waves. It was important that anybody could easily and accurately find and measure their pulse, otherwise the device would be useless. We also had to make sure the sensor wouldn’t move during measurement, so we tested various shapes to fix it to the arm, such as clip types, belt types, and watch types.

  • And you finally settled on the current design?

  • Actually, this isn’t the final version. We’re still experimenting with experts in the field of mechanical research.

  • What’s given you the drive to continue product development so passionately?

  • I have a strong desire to create devices that will allow people to easily measure the state of their health from their own homes, without having to go to a hospital. I’d like to be able to create devices that can singlehandedly help prevent so-called lifestyle diseases. Ideally, in the future, there will be devices that can predict heart attacks, strokes, and even cancer. This is what I want to help achieve.

  • One of the major societal issues we aim to tackle at the Medical R&D Center is Japan’s declining birthrate and aging population, of which you are all well aware. In the midst of this, a major source of motivation for us is contributing to a society in which everyone can live a healthy life.

02

Human Augmentation
Enhancing Human Functions with Healthcare

With a device that enables simple health measurement, Kyocera is hoping to enhance awareness of the importance of health in general. In addition to the Carbohydrate Monitoring System, Kyocera has also been involved in the development of various other devices. What vision does Kyocera have for the future of healthcare?
  • In the near future, we’ll also have to start looking at human augmentation.

  • You’re right. Since our desire is to contribute to longer, healthier lives, in anticipation of human augmentation we’ll have to develop a range of technologies to help people stay active and feel vibrant longer.

  • As a newer employee, do you have any ideas as to what types of technology you’d like to develop in the future?

  • People say that actual human augmentation will enable individuals to experience physical ability that surpasses that of when they were younger. My hope is not simply to slow down the age-induced deterioration of physical ability, but to bring about a society in which, in the end, physical ability makes a V-shaped recovery.

  • That’s great. I’d like to work with the next generation of employees and think about how we can push developments forward to make these goals a reality. As you go about R&D, I’d like you to consider output - that is, how you want your ideas and technologies to ultimately take shape.

Message

Taking on Future of Healthcare with Technology

Kyocera is proceeding with research and development in the healthcare field to extend people’s healthy life expectancy. If individuals can easily monitor their own health, health awareness will no doubt increase. Kyocera, however, is looking even further than that ─ not only is the company working to increase healthy lifespans, it is also aiming for a future in which, as people age, they may actually be more active than they were when they were young. Kyocera will continue to bring innovation to the field of healthcare in the hope that people can look forward to the 100-year lifespan era.