3 Incredible Ways Intel Is Revolutionizing Health Care

Intel, long considered to be a slow growth tech stock, could still have a few tricks up its sleeve. Here are three key ways Intel could surprisingly revolutionize the health care market.

Mar 22, 2014 at 8:30PM

When many people think of Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), the largest microprocessor company in the world, they think of a mature tech stock that has been stuck in neutral over the past decade. Intel has notably slumped since its Wintel heyday in the 1990s, missing a crucial leap to mobile processors -- a key market now dominated by chips licensed from ARM Holdings (NASDAQ:ARMH).

However, Intel doesn't intend to quietly fade away, and it recently unleashed a new generation of tech that could revolutionize the health care industry within the next decade. Let's take a look at three of its most promising product lines.

3-D cameras for 3-D printing
Intel unveiled a new line of technology, branded RealSense, at CES 2014 in January. The centerpiece was the RealSense 3-D camera, which takes photos in three dimensions and captures distance and depth with the image data. This is a huge step up from the majority of current generation 3-D cameras, which produce a stereoscopic image from combined angles for a simulated 3-D effect.

The RealSense 3-D camera can be used to scan objects, making it possible to produce instant templates for 3-D printers. Intel has already inked a deal with 3-D printing company 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) to convert its RealSense 3-D images into printable templates.

3D Systems already has an established presence in health care with metal 3-D printers for dentistry and orthodontics, and 3-D-printed prosthetic fairings. 3D Systems also specializes in digitizing radiology, oncology, and other medical information.

When we merge Intel's RealSense scanning technology with 3D Systems digitizing and 3-D printing technologies, we get glimpses of a future where a wide variety of customized medical implants, prosthetics, and devices could be produced via a streamlined 3-D scanning and printing process. Looking decades into the future, Intel's RealSense technology might even be integrated with 3-D bioprinting technology, making it possible to scan and reprint organic body parts.

Intel's tiny Edison chips could be a game-changer for wearables
Intel also unveiled a tiny SD card-sized computer known as Edison at CES. Edison is a full-featured computer, powered by a 22nm dual core 400MHz Intel Quark processor, and is equipped with integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other features. Intel demonstrated that Edison can be placed anywhere -- in chairs, appliances, and even coffee cups.


Source: Intel.

Intel demonstrated the possibilities of Edison with Rest Devices' Mimo Baby Monitor, which consists of a water-resistant turtle that attaches to a baby-sized "Kimono." Intel's Edison is installed inside the turtle, which takes temperature, breathing, and motion readings from the Kimono's sensors. Edison then delivers the data wirelessly to the parents' Google Android or Apple iOS devices, and can simultaneously activate other Edison-enabled devices across the network, such as a bottle warmer.

In the future, an adult version of the Mimo Baby Monitor could be used to monitor patients in hospitals or track the health of elderly patients at home. Edison could also be installed in a wide array of smart medical devices, such as pacemakers, glucose monitors, smart watches, and fitness bands -- meaning that a person in the near future could have multiple processors all over their body synchronizing to each other and the cloud.


The Mimo Baby Monitor and companion smartphone app. Source: Intel.

For Intel, Edison represents a way to leapfrog over ARM Holdings, which dominates mobile devices through licensing agreements with tech giants like Apple and Samsung. More importantly, Edison is Intel's way of showing critics that its aging x86 architecture, which some claim is less power efficient than ARM's chips, remains relevant in the age of wearable tech and the Internet of Things.

Providing raw horsepower for genome sequencing
In the big x86 vs. ARM debate, a common argument is that ARM chips might have dominated mobile devices, but they will never have the adequate horsepower to power high-end servers. ARM has responded to this criticism by rolling out higher-end chip designs, with a target of being installed in 10% of the server chip design market by 2017.

Therefore, Intel remains the top choice for higher-end server needs in health care IT and products like genome sequencers, which require massive horsepower. Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN), for example, recently broke the "human genome sequencing sound barrier" by introducing a machine that can sequence the human genome for $1,000 -- a steep drop from the cost of $250,000 a mere decade ago. The machine, known as the HiSeq Ten X, consists of 10 machines for a total cost of $10 million. The HiSeq Ten X's Instrument Control Computer is powered by two high-end 2.7 GHz Intel Xeon 64-bit E5 processors.


Illumina's HiSeq Ten X. Source: Illumina.

NextBio, a private company that provides a knowledge-sharing platform for drug companies and life science researchers, also uses Intel's Xeon E5 processors to power its massive, constantly growing database of information. More powerful genome sequencing and data systems, like the ones from Illumina and NextBio, could lead to breakthroughs in locating new biomarkers and drug targets.

When we combine Moore's Law, which states that the number of transistors on integrated circuits will double every two years, with the fact that high-end Intel processors power most of these high-end health care machines, we can see that future medical breakthroughs might be highly dependent on Intel's processing power.

The Foolish takeaway
In closing, it's easy to dismiss Intel as a has-been stock being dragged down by a slowdown in global PC shipments. However, Intel also has incredibly deep pockets ($20.2 billion in cash and equivalents, compared to ARM Holdings' $955 million and AMD's  $1.1 billion) and a very lucrative pipeline of products that could revolutionize the health care market over the next few decades.

Should you own Intel forever?
As every savvy investor knows, Warren Buffett didn't make billions by betting on half-baked stocks. He isolated his best few ideas, bet big, and rode them to riches, hardly ever selling. You deserve the same. That's why our CEO, legendary investor Tom Gardner, has permitted us to reveal The Motley Fool's 3 Stocks to Own Forever. These picks are free today! Just click here now to uncover the three companies we love. 

Leo Sun owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends 3D Systems, Apple, Google, Illumina, and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of 3D Systems, Apple, Google, and Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers