GE Healthcare and Intel Corp. have will form a joint venture that will combine, enhance and market their respective home health and independent living applications.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel and Waukesha, Wis.-based GE Healthcare each will own 50 percent of the new company, the name of which has not been released. The vendors expect the new company to be operational by year-end. Financial terms of the joint venture were not disclosed.

The new company will provide technologies and services to promote independent living at home and in assisted living communities. Initial technologies that the vendors will transfer to the joint venture include the Intel Health Guide, Intel Reader and GE's QuietCare products.

Intel Health Guide is a touch-screen home monitoring device that links patients to caregivers. Patients on a daily basis measure such vital signs as blood pressure, pulse and weight, and respond to questions specific to their condition. The Health Guide device also enables videoconferencing so clinicians can assess patients for signs and symptoms suggesting deterioration in their condition. GE Healthcare has been a reseller of Health Guide under an alliance between the two companies that now is being expanded through the joint venture.

Intel Reader is a hand-held product to convert printed text to digital text, then read it aloud to the user. It is designed for people with dyslexia and other learning disabilities, or impaired vision. The reader includes a high-resolution camera to point and shoot text, and a processor to convert and read the text. The reader can be used with a Portable Capture Station that eases capturing large amounts of data from a chapter or entire book.

GE's QuietCare is designed to detect problems an independent living patient may be having and alert caregivers. Motion sensors throughout an apartment or home use infrared technology to track a resident's movements and feed the information to a base station in the apartment or home. Software in the base station "learns" a resident's daily activities, such as the number of nightly bathroom visits, the times meals are made and when prescriptions are taken.

The base unit transmits data to a central source via telephone lines, for analysis of data for deviations from normal activity for a resident. For instance, caregivers would be notified if a resident failed to take a morning trip to the bathroom or make breakfast in the kitchen. The sensors also monitor room temperatures for dangerously hot or cold conditions. GE in late 2008 started reselling QuietCare and bought the vendor, Living Independently Group Inc., a year later.

The new Intel-GE joint venture will have headquarters in the Sacramento, Calif. region. Louis Burns, vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Health Group, will move to the new company as CEO. Omar Ishrak, president and CEO at GE Healthcare Systems, the largest division within GE Healthcare and including its diagnostic imaging, life support and home health product lines, will retain the posts and serve as chairman of the joint venture.

--Joseph Goedert


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