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Intel, GE invest in health care

INTEL Corp and General Electric Co are jointly investing US$250 million over the next five years to develop personalized home health care devices.

The companies envision products that will cut health care costs and help aging baby boomers and people with chronic illnesses remain in their homes by allowing doctors to monitor patients remotely.

Announcing the agreement Thursday, Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt said their cooperation will help them jump quickly into a market they estimate will grow to US$7.7 billion by 2012, from US$3 billion this year.

The investment is one of "four or five big bets" that Intel, the computer chip maker, is making outside of PCs, Otellini said.

The company has been developing health care products for the past four years, part of a long-running - though sometimes halting - effort to expand meaningfully into other areas. It has already introduced the Intel Health Guide, a home computer that monitors vital signs and allows doctors to communicate with patients over the Internet.

Small budget outlay

The new investment is tiny compared to Intel's multibillion-dollar research and development budget, American Technology Research analyst Doug Freedman said. But he expressed some optimism about Intel's ability to grow beyond PCs.

"I wouldn't put them in the camp of, 'They failed before so they're going to fail again'," he said.

GE, which is taking over marketing and distribution of Intel's Health Guide, has its own health care products as well. The company's GE Quiet Care system monitors patients' vital signs remotely using electronic sensors.

Intel shares rose 67 US cents, or 4.5 percent, to close at US$15.70 as the broader market also posted big gains. GE shares rose 57 US cents, up 5.6 percent, to US$10.74.



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