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Toyota’s Mirai Hydrogen Powered Car Set to Expand Market

Toyota is putting up higher stakes in its quest for the hydrogen powered car with the introduction of the Mirai. It recently added a new building to its Honsha plant, located near their headquarters, to build fuel cell stacks. It also added a new hydrogen storage tank assembly line at its Shimoyama plant. These are big changes to the manufacture capabilities of a hydrogen powered car.

These are the key building blocks needed for the production of the Toyoto Mirai. The Mirai, a hydrogen powered car, translates to “future”. It is arguably the most popular fuel cell car in the world. Since 2015, it has sold more than 5,500 units. Of these, 3,000 were sold to individual buyers in California– the only state where it is on sale. Another 250 were sold in Europe, where hydrogen stations are more common. The difference between the European and U.S. market is that in Europe, the cars go to corporate fleets.

Fuel Cell in a Hydrogen Powered Car

The fuel cell is the primary unit power production in a fuel cell vehicle (FCV). It converts hydrogen, with oxygen in the air, and this results in an electric charge along with a small amount of water. The idea is like electrolysis in reverse.

In electrolysis, electricity passes through water which break up water molecules to oxygen and hydrogen molecules. The reverse process inside a fuel cell uses a catalyst which hastens the fusing of hydrogen and oxygen to form water. A fuel cell, in itself produces on a small amount of energy. However, it is possible to add multiple fuel cells in series to form a fuel cell stack which would generate enough energy fora hydrogen powered car.

Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity hydrogen powered cars
Toyota and Honda Hydrogen powered cars, said to be the cars of the future

In a hydrogen powered car, compressed hydrogen is the fuel for these vehicles, and stored in the car’s fuel tanks. The tanks are stronger than those in gasoline and diesel fueled vehicles. Toyota engineers have tested the fuel tank by firing bullets at the tanks. Hydrogen is a combustible element. When near a flame, hydrogen does not burn, it explodes instead. It was once used in dirigibles like the ocean-crossing Hindenburg, which exploded at its mooring in New Jersey. As a very light molecule, hydrogen can easily leak from a tank. Toyota made their tanks with additional safeguards, as well as added a thick layer of carbon fiber, making sure that it is safer than a fuel tank from a conventional gas powered vehicle.

Toyota’s Mirai, First Zero-Emission Hydrogen Powered Car

Toyota has its own hybrid vehicle in the Prius, which sold more than 100,000 units in 2017. It does not as of yet have an electric car. There are reports that Toyota is developing a solid state battery for cars and that they will release an EV by 2020. In the meantime, they are also upping the ante on FCVs. There are several advantages to FCVs including the refueling time, which takes only a few minutes. It is also a zero-emission vehicle as its only waste product is water.

There are currently more than 30 public stations for hydrogen in California. This number will soon increase to 43 with additional construction set to go online. Toyota has also partnered with Air Liquide for the construction and supply of 12 stations between Boston and New York. These refueling initiatives will give a much needed boost to the FCVs.

Toyota and Air Liquide are members of the Hydrogen Council, established during the World Economic Forum in Davos. The Council includes 27 members including Audi, BMW, Daimler Benz, Honda, Hyundai, Shell and Total. They point out that adding EVs to the electrical demands can make the supply unstable. By nature, electric plants have little allowance outside of their regular customers. The increasing supply for EVs has yet to be factored into the mix for future demand and production. FCVs don’t have that dependency. However, a hydrogen powered car could make a bold impact on society.

Toyota has set a target of 30,000 production for the Mirai hydrogen powered car during the next decade; a small number compared to hybrids, and even compared to projected sales of EVs. However, they are betting that the only production FCV will be able to attract customers.

Honda Clarity Hydrogen Powered Car

In addition to the Toyota Mirai hydrogen powered car, Honda is also in the game with the Clarity.  In comparison to a Mirai which leases for $349 per month, the Clarity hydrogen powered car will run $369.  It is available only in California currently. Both vehicles are eligible for Californias “Clean air” HOV-Lane.  The Clarity and Mirai are powered by 4 cylinders and rate at 174 and 152,  horsepower respectively.

While the Toyota hydrogen powered car takes it tech from its hybrid lineup, Honda takes a different approach and places the fuel cell under the Clarity’s hood. The Honda hydrogen powered car has a 1.7-kWh batter compared to the Toyota that is using a 1.5kWh battery. Neither car offers many surprises, but the hydrogen powered car infrastructure is solid. In California, it is easy to find a hydrogen powered pump and most are added to existing gas stations. Fueling a hydrogen powered car is simple and takes only about 5 minutes.

It is becoming clear that the hydrogen powered car is part of our future.  Especially in states like California, a hydrogen powered car is a great alternative to EVs and will make bold impacts in the future.

Telemedicine, Robot Bridges Doctor and Patient Gap

Box office hits like Transformers, and the science-fiction franchise, Terminator, make one think that robots are invented for the sole purpose of defense. Technology, though, has found a far greater purpose for these. Over the years, robots have evolved in a lot of different ways. Moreover, they have even penetrated different industries around the globe, including healthcare. The Miramont Family Medicine, a medical facility located in Fort Collins, Colorado, is experiencing the bold impact of robotics. The patient-centered healthcare facility has been using an innovative device called Beam, which is an advanced telemedicine robot developed by Suitable Technologies.

Beam, the telepresence robot

Beam is a robot-like machine that has two legs with wheels and a screen for a face. The monitor is also used to present live video streaming on both ends.

The California-based company manufactures systems that combine both mobility and video conferencing. Scott Hassan, the President and CEO of Suitable Technologies, believes that Beam will benefit both patients and doctors.

The robot has the capability to deliver an accurate eye-to-eye or face-to-face connection instantly across distance, thus letting users move effortlessly from one place to another and engage in real time.

According to John Bender, the CEO of Miramont Family Medicine, and a representative for the American Board of Family Medicine, he was trying to come up with a better way to get in touch with his patients and healthcare staff every time he is not in the office. And using Beams helps the facility bridge the said gap.

I can log in from my computer or phone from wherever I am and drive the Beam around the office for up to eight hours at a time without needing a charge. Beams have a solid base with wheels that maneuver extremely well so I can navigate small spaces of go over the bumps in the carpet. I even use the speed often to get from one room to another.

– John Bender, the CEO of Miramont Family Medicine

The Potential of Beam in Telemedicine

The Colorado-based medical facility admits that in the past, they were only able to conduct nutritional, pharmaceutical, and psychological consultations. However, because of the technical prowess brought by Beam, the healthcare facility can now provide more advanced consultations designed to address chronic diseases.

Bender said, “I also regularly use the Beams for acute consults when I’m not onsite, where the PA or nurse practitioner is seeing the patient and I ‘Beam in’ to assist with medical decision making for a patient I have not previously seen.”

Companies Make Sure that Telemedicine is in Check

Telemedicine is becoming one of the fastest growing areas in healthcare. By 2020, the telehealth industry will reach a market value of $78.82 billion.

More and more companies are now delving into the technology of telemedicine.

  • SnapMD creates a cloud-based virtual care management platform with the ability to let healthcare providers engage with their patients. Dave Skibinski is the President and CEO of the company. The company now has an estimated total funding of $13.1 million.  SnapMD delivers services such as program performance and measurement, predictive analysis, and telehealth consulting services.
  • Physitrack is a UK-based startup, private firm. It provides application for home exercise programming, physical rehabilitation, and engagement for patients. Henrik Molin is the Co-Founder and CEO of Physitrack. The company has a projected total funding of $1.6 million. It has services in Canada, USA, Australia, and the Netherlands.
  • Practo Technologies manufactures a medical practice management software that provides scheduling for the patient appointment, billing services, and record management. Shashank ND heads the company located in Bengaluru, Karnataka. It has an estimated total funding of $179 million.
  • American Well, a web-based telehealth platform, lets patients be in touch with physicians using text chats, videos, and phone calls. Ido Schoenberg is the Chairman and CEO. To date, American Well has a projected total funding of $21.3 million. The Massachusetts-based company also delivers web and mobile technology solutions for accessing medical care services.

Now that the Food and Drug Administration has allowed the telemedicine manufacturer InTouch Health to sell telemedicine robots, it will already be easier for other companies to have their own futuristic machines join the growing market.

Miramont Family Medicine is a small facility. However, because of the technological advancements made by its very own Beam, the Colorado-based facility can provide more assistance and cure to patients.

This Sensor Can Diagnose Diseases from Sweat

GraphWear Technologies is revolutionizing healthcare with their wearable sensor, using sweat as a major indicator of disease. The company recently made a bold move to transfer their headquarters to San Francisco, California. The wearables business belonged to the University City Science Center’s Digital Health Accelerator in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and participated in the DreamIt Ventures program. Having just moved to the Bay Area, a tech hub filled with startups just like theirs, what does this mean for GraphWear?

Beyond Sweat: Hydration, Glucose, and More

Similar to the technologies of 23andMe Cancer Home Test, K’Track glucose monitor, and other clinical wearables Bold Business has featured before, GraphWear’s tech allows people to simply wear a patch to detect the need to hydrate and subsequently alerts wearers to replenish their fluids.

Initially, the company only tracked electrolyte and glucose levels through their technology’s sweat analysis. However, their greater goal was to let people know of these micro detections and what they should do about it. Naturally, athletes would be their target market. Thus, NFL players participated in testing earlier this year.

GraphWear Technologies is testing its sweat analysis wearable patch on NFL players
GraphWear’s wearable patch that analyzes sweat

Ultimately, they want this technology to become a standard wearable device. Such tech can help diabetic patients track their glucose levels more easily, turning it into a Class 2 medical device. Co-founder and CEO Rajatesh Gudibande revealed this young startup’s long-term goal. That is, for their product to be ready for the market by 2019, specifically in the third quarter.

Why that amount of time? “Athletic teams will help us validate the technology, but we also need to gather more robust data,” Guidbande explained. He also noted that they have partnered with big names, thus moving the entire company to San Francisco—participating in Johnson & Johnson’s collaboration with the Plug and Play Tech Center incubator that was located there.

Not Just Another Health Startup

Relocating everything to the West Coast means only positive things for GraphWear. Since their bold move, the startup, led by two top venture capitalists Bio Innovation Capital and Mission Bay Capital, has raised an astonishing $4.2 million Series A.

Co-founder Saurabh Radhakrishnan mentioned this move to the Bay Area as significant. It provided the support they needed, although Philly’s ecosystem was “key” to the startup’s early stages. “We needed to stabilize in an area that fostered a long-winded vision,” he said. “We couldn’t find that on the East Coast.”

Gudibande concurred, “We lived in a hacker house and worked odd hours out of lab space a former Penn professor let us use. We had to work on this like crazy, in the lab from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. because that’s the time we had, and then the business side of things started at 9 a.m.”

Companies like GraphWear have found their beginnings in the booming startup world, and groups like DreamIt support such causes. GraphWear is not the first in medical technology to create tech using sweat analysis. However, it proved it has become significant in the industry. Eccrine Systems, Neumitra, and Electrozyme are just a few that have established themselves in the same manner.

If anything, GraphWear’s invention may create a very positive disruption to the healthcare industry. In addition, they serve as inspiration for other brilliant minds who wants to succeed in making their bold ideas a reality.