GE Healthcare and Intel Corp. last August announced they would form a joint venture to combine, enhance and market their respective home health and independent living applications. Now, the companies have launched the new company, called Intel-GE Care Innovations LLC and based in Sacramento, Calif.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel and Waukesha, Wis.-based GE Healthcare each own 50 percent of Care Innovations, which combines GE's Home Health division with Intel's Digital Health Group. Louis Burns, who previously served as vice president and general manager Intel Digital Health Group, now is CEO at Care Innovations. Omar Ishrak, president and CEO at GE Healthcare Systems, is chair of the joint venture.

The new company will provide technologies and services to promote independent living at home and in assisted living communities. Initial technologies transferred to Care Innovations 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.

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--Joseph Goedert


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