going faster can help us live longer (Wired UK)

Michael Newington Gray

McLaren’s most famous division might be facing short-term problems in 2015. But McLaren Applied Technologies (MAT), who aim to take the raw power of the company’s innovations in racing — materials, engineering and design — and solve real world problems, are playing the long game. 

As long, maybe, as the human lifespan and beyond.

Geoff McGrath, VP at MAT, tells WIRED Health 2015 he wants to measure people the same way it measures F1 cars — and learn more about how to solve fundamental problems of human health.

McGrath first trained as a mechanical engineer, and first spoke at WIRED Health in 2011. Since then, he says, MAT has grown massively. “We’re now the fastest growing, most profitable part of the group,” says McGrath.

“Racing has an existential need to win… For us in business terms winning is being the best at whatever we do — going beyond the limits of performance or being the first to do something.”


McGrath points out that McLaren uses many of its F1 innovations — such as its market-leading modelling tech and virtual prototyping studio — and licenses that out to other forms of racing and teams. “We’ve measured so much on this product in the real world we have the ability to change perimeters and get instant feedback,” he says. “We are the first in F1 to take this approach.” These techniques and principles are applicable in other fields, because the point is not to make a faster car — it’s just to take insights from data, in real time, and model thousands of changes at once.

“We say the further back we can look the further forward we can see,” McGrath told WIRED Health.

What elements from racing can be transferred? Any action that gives actionable intelligence, or can be simulated, McGrath said. That includes health data and analytics on the scale of professional sports teams, or individuals. “If we can capitalise on the convergence of data management and predictive analytics… that’s the business that we’re in.” MAT worked with GlaxoSmithKline on analysing data relating to ALS, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. Instead of a basic clinical trial it helped to develop low-cost medical sensors that could be worn as a good-looking, neck-based sensor by participants, and provide far more data than would usually be possible. “It’s not pure medical science, but it’s great bio-mechanical insight.”

“What might bring the breakthrough in adoption in some of this technology [is if] we could embed some of this intelligence into the clothes we wear, or produce form factors that are more appealing to people,” he says. McLaren’s hope is that by combining design, data and insight, it can start to move just as quickly in medical products as it can on the racetrack. “Don’t ask me can it be done. Ask me how.”

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24 April 2015 | 5:22 pm – Source: wired.co.uk


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