What if you could know well in advance about health challenges you or your loved ones may face, in time to mitigate or even conquer them? Think about facial recognition technology for a moment; it can correctly identify a single person out of millions. This same kind of technology can work at the molecular level to identify different biomaterials, such as bacteria or viruses. There is an AI (Artificial Intelligence) chip currently in development that aims to identify molecular structures linked to cancer, infectious diseases, and other health issues.

Nano Global, an Austin-based molecular data company, and Arm, a semiconductor IP company, recently announced they are developing an AI chip that can more quickly identify and better target antibiotic-resistant bacteria, cancer strains before they have invaded neighboring tissue, and other healthcare data. Nano Global’s press release about the collaboration asserts the technology “will help redefine how global health challenges – from superbugs to infectious diseases, and cancer – are conquered.” The company says it is leveraging advances in optics, AI, and edge computing to enable the chip to unlock molecular data in real time. In their words, “The pioneering system-on-chip (SoC) will yield highly-secure molecular data that can be used in the recognition and analysis of health threats caused by pathogens and other living organisms.” Molecular data contains physical and chemical characteristics specific to each individual; the AI chip will be able to collect, process and analyze this information. The result, according to Nano Global, is the connectivity of molecular information and previously isolated data for each health challenge, which makes more interconnected, holistic solutions possible. The development of the chip is in progress with first delivery expected by 2020.

The company has laudable goals: faster product development, the ability to predict outbreaks, and elimination of unwanted side effects from generalized health solutions.  If the AI chip in development one day makes all this possible, detecting and combating serious health risks like infectious disease and cancer using molecular data will be as commonplace as identifying a face in a crowd. Global health challenges will be mitigated, lives will be saved, and treatment costs could be reduced.