Sony, the consumer electronics manufacturer, is expanding into creating patient-friendly medical devices, particularly in medical laboratory and diagnostic test kits. The shift indicates that the market for diagnostic testing remains strong.
The company is seeking to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Israeli medical technologies, according to a story in the Israeli business daily, Globes. “As populations age, demand for medical devices rises, and we intend to participate in this,” says Hiroshi Yoshioka, vice president of Sony, in the Globes story.
A reason for the shift could be that Sony is looking for ways to revive earnings, reports the Dark Daily, a website that follows news on laboratory and pathology developments. Earlier this year, Sony, Japan’s largest electronics exporter, predicted its losses to be 220 billion yen, the first time since the Tokyo-based company began trading in 1958 that it’s had four consecutive annual losses, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.
Boundaries between consumer electronics and medical devices are blurring. Six months ago, Sony acquired diagnostic test kit company, Micronics, Inc. The purchase positioned Sony in near-patient point of care in in vitro diagnostic products and medical microfluidics.
In a press release announcing the Micronics acquisition, Keiji Kimura, executive vice president of Sony, said:
We believe that the combination of Micronics’ development capabilities in the medical diagnosis domain and our consumer electronics and IT technologies, such as in optical discs, will enable us to offer innovative solutions that are responsive to the rapidly escalating needs for point-of-care diagnosis worldwide.
Sony also has new strategic agreements with three laboratory sample analysis companies (RainDance Technologies, Quanterix, and Caliper) to further advance Sony’s microfluidic technology. Also, Sony is combining medical device functions with consumer electronics. For example, a wireless wristband could monitor a heart rate, vitals and blood glucose levels, and send the information to a television.
Similarly, Sony could develop ways to perform blood tests and similar medical lab assays using devices that link to smartphones and tablet computers. That information could be transmitted to a physician.
Source: “Sony targets Israeli medical technologies,” Globes, 3/18/12
Source: “Sony Makes Sizable Investments in Medical Devices and Clinical Pathology Laboratory Testing,” Dark Daily, 5/9/12
Source: “Sony, Panasonic Expect Worsening Losses as Samsung Dominates,” Bloomberg Businessweek, 2/14/12
Source: “Sony acquires Micronics, Inc., US diagnostic device development venture,” Micronics press release, 9/28/11
Image by U.S. Air Force, used under Fair Use: Reporting.
Dale McGeehon has been a journalist and editor for more than 25 years, covering chemical regulation and testing for Pesticides and Toxic Chemical News and innovations in material sciences for the National Technology Transfer Center. His writing credits include Omni and College Park magazines and The New York Times.