Verily, the Alphabet ($GOOG) division formerly known as Google Life Sciences, is developing a device that could become the backbone of digitally connected research. Dubbed the "Connectivity Bridge," the technology is a wireless hub capable of pulling in and uploading data from assorted digital tools.
The device, pictures of which were spotted by Business Insider in an FCC filing, has a cellular signal, giving it the ability to wirelessly pull data from devices and forward them on to cloud-based platforms. With Connectivity Bridge using its cellular signal for uploads, data could be frequently transferred from devices to the cloud without adding to the participant's Internet usage. In doing so, the bridge could lessen the already-diminishing concerns about Internet access being a barrier to research participation and ensure data are moved to secure cloud storage as a quickly as possible.
A user manual shared with FCC suggests "Study Kit" will act as a proving ground for the Connectivity Bridge. Google introduced a Study Kit Android app and Chrome browser last year to help participants in its Baseline Study, which is trying to define the characteristics of healthy people. Participants who receive a Connectivity Bridge need to sync their devices to the hub using a USB cable. The FCC filing lacks details of the Study Kit devices, although Google has confirmed in the past that it is working on a clinical trial grade health-tracking wristband.
Full details of how the Study Kit app, wristband and bridge fit into Verily's vision of healthcare and research--and whether any of them will make a meaningful difference to the current inefficiencies in clinical trials--have yet to emerge. Verily has released a trickle of information about its activities over the past couple of years, but, as of yet, access to and understanding of its work is too limited to tell whether the superlatively well-resourced organization can deliver significant products.