Steve Wozniak on "The Future of Personal Healthcare Technology" #ATA2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Today is the last day of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) annual conference and the plenary this morning was Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder of Apple Computer & Inventor of the World's First Personal Computer. The plenary was supported by GlobalMed Telemedicine.

Woz shared his personal story of how he learned about computers as a little kid. He was an innovator from his early days and that innovation never ended. His stories were funny and the entire audience was laughing the entire time. He taught himself to build small computers and he met Steve Jobs and they both hit it off. He went to work at HP where his job was to design handheld calculators. Steve Jobs went to work at Atari (and Woz got to play with all those games).

The name "Apple" came about when he was at a doctor's office, there was a story about an orchard, and someone came up with the name "Apple Computer"

He was asked, "what advice would you give health care entrepreneurs?"
  • The driving force behind innovation and success has to be personal.
  • Failure is a valuable learning experience.
  • Small companies offer greater opportunities for innovation. 
  • It's OK to take risks and do different things when you're young. 
The Apple II was the product that allowed them to grow and as Apple grew, they maintained the small company mentality to allow them to innovate. Woz developed the inside while Jobs designed the outside of their computers. Woz calls Apple the "Secret Silent Company." They were a disruptive force as they created an ecosystem that all fell under the Apple umbrella: they owned the hardware, the operating system, the iTunes music store, the iOS app store, etc. The entire ecosystem was Apple.

Woz now has the "traveling rock star" lifestyle as he speaks at conferences around the world.

The biggest challenge in technology and the future direction of computers:
  • Computers are now acting more like humans: artificial intelligence like IBM Watson, Siri on iPhone, etc.
  • Computers will look, listen, and learn.
  • The cloud will process everything to save battery life on mobile devices.
  • Mobile devices will incorporate more "sensors" (like smell) and it will develop insights about the owner.
  • Computers will get smarter and smarter.
  • Will the computer replace the doctor? Will the doctor merely become a technician who is skilled at navigating a computer to manage a patient? 
The entire audience listened intently when he said that he knows how long it takes to build a human brain: 9 months.

Woz spent several years teaching kids and teachers. He loved the experience and transferred his passions to students. He reminded the audience that the driving force behind innovation must be personal.

ATA12 coverage is sponsored by HP. HP’s extensive portfolio of products, solutions, services and relationships can help your healthcare organization achieve quality business practices and provide quality patient care.




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