Austin, TX — South By Southwest isn’t just a launching pad for new creative content. It’s more than a place to hear original music or experience independent cinema’s best.

Or to see actor Jeffrey Tambor. Again.

It’s where real innovation is revealed and paths to the future are carved. Surprisingly, a lot of these emerging technologies are happening in healthcare space. Here are four potentially life-altering developments in the world of healthcare unveiled at the renowned (and increasingly overcrowded) festival.

Vision Quest

Gaming for life skill enhancement is nothing new. However, Brain Power is transforming the traditions of health video gaming for autistic children. Often disengaged and uncommunicative, children with autism become increasingly disconnected from society via social difficulties, language barriers, and behavioral issues.

Whereas most classic gaming is immersive and focused on tablet and device screens, Brain Power is employing Google Glass goggles to compel autistic children to look up and out into the world around them. The system features twelve specialized apps that use Glass overlays to encourage kids to make eye contact, recognize emotions, use their words, control their behavior and more. The goal is to help the children achieve greater self-sufficiency through fun and interactive gamification.

Fits in more ways than one.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), the main treatment for sleep apnea is almost as much of a burden as the condition itself. Sleep apnea makes breathing at night difficult. Most CPAP masks are ill-fitting, uncomfortable, and as a result, ineffective. In fact, almost 50% of new CPAP users quit in the first year of trying the therapy.

As a result, Metamason has pioneered a fully-customizable CPAP mask design with Respere.  Sleep apnea sufferers will be able to use virtual scanning and 3D printing to create a mask designed specifically for their face. They’ll have the option to alter adjustments in nasal fit, bridge design, strap configurations and placement, and hose fit. The hope is that a CPAP mask that fits more like your custom earbuds will encourage adherence and yield better results.

Meeting disability head-on.

Smartphones aren’t so smart if you’re physically unable to use them. Even though smartphone manufacturers have added software features to help them become more accessible to those with disabilities, they certainly don’t do as much as the Sesame Phone. Designed by and for the disabled, the Sesame Phone is remarkable in that it is controlled almost entirely with your head.

The Sesame Phone takes gesture control to a higher level by allowing users to employ head movements that are read by the phone’s front-facing camera. A software-based algorithm, in turn, uses data from the movements to create and manipulate an onscreen cursor, much like one associated with a mouse or trackpad. All of the normal features of a smartphone are available, from touching, swiping, browsing, playing to downloading and more. Sesame Phone also integrates voice command recognition for added control.

The kitchen sink? Included.

In every empty kitchen, an amazing meal is waiting to happen. So what happens when there’s literally not enough cooks in the kitchen? It sits, dormant. The Food Corridor connects food businesses to underutilized kitchens to create new efficiencies in how we make and manage healthy cuisine. It’s AirBnB or UBER for freelance chefs and food trucks. Commercial kitchens post their available kitchen spaces for food businesses to book to help fill their orders and provide healthier options for their clientele. TFC also handles payment processing, disbursement, and reviews for both sides in this innovative sharing economy equation.

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation and Insights for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for building and scaling a global team of healthcare experts who together help life science leaders better understand the complex lives, influences and expectations of their customers. Specifically, they uncover actionable insights that fuel empathy and creativity; lead co-creation events that let marketers learn from peers, trends, and new possibilities; and help clients identify the most valuable and useful new customer experiences to create.

Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for nearly 20 years.She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she held several leadership roles at our largest agency, GSW.  There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business.

Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes.

A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. This year, she led over 250 experts to experts to focus on the most important changes in the commercial, consumer, marketing, digital and healthcare landscapes. (See reports at

Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice and Top 10 Innovation Catalysts of 2017 by MM&M, Leigh also was recognized  as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.