Monthly Archives: September 2013

Yoga Studio: Personalized Yoga Classes at Home or On The Go

For less than a small latte in San Francisco, the Yoga Studio app has a collection of 15 – 60 minute mobile and tablet optimized instructional yoga classes of varying degrees of difficulty. You can also create your own classes by selecting poses from their extensive pose library (over 1,700 yoga video clips) and stitching them together. Downloaded videos are small and don’t take up much space, and you can also play yoga classes on your TV using AppleTV AirPlay mirroring. Best of all, the app has a built in reminder system for busy people, with a scheduling function that syncs to your calendar.

This app is a great supplement to a once a week or twice a month in-person yoga classes and a great way to do guided yoga while at home, traveling or outdoors. The pose library, with over 280 poses, makes it easy to review things learned in class, at home.

When you begin your yoga session, a calm, gentle voice guides you to breathe and move into your first pose. The directions are perfectly synced to the poses, just like in a class and the app’s Smart-link feature naturally connects poses I’ve picked in my “Post-Run Yoga” session that might not naturally lead into each other.

With a busy travel season ahead of me, I will definitely be using Yoga Studio to complement my marathon training and general wellness.

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Emotiv Insight: Track and Use Your Cognitive Strength

The Emotiv Insight is a multi-channel, wireless headset that monitors brain activity, tracking your brain’s fitness and performance in real time. While many fitness apps and devices focus on physical health, the Emotiv Insight focuses on cognitive health and wellbeing.

The Emotiv Insight can interpret basic commands such as push, pull, and rotate, as well as measure attention, focus, excitement and more. Just think (no pun intended), now you can command a helicopter to levitate, and the Emotiv Insight will interpret your mental command and raise the helicopter.

The Company exceeded its $100,000 Kickstarter goal by raising a record $1.6 million through over four thousand backers. I asked Emotiv Insight to tell us a little more about their product. Special thanks to Kim Du and the Emotiv Insight team.

What does the Emotiv Insight improve upon in the human mind and how long does it take to see results?

The brain is made up of approximately 100 billion nerve cells, which are called neurons. These active neurons cause electrical activity, which can be observed using non-invasive electroencephalography (EEG).

Emotiv Insight brainwear™ technology measures electrical activity from 5 regions of the brain. The location and distribution of particular kinds of activity are characteristic of specific functional activities or response patterns. For example, we measure the amount of activity in different frequency bands which have long been known to be characteristic of different kinds of functions – Beta and Gamma waves are very high frequency activities which indicate a high degree of intellectual processing, Alpha waves indicate a level of relaxed alertness, Theta waves indicate a dreamy state or paradoxically a high degree of memory recall and focus when occurring in conjunction with Beta and Gamma waves, and so on. The relative amounts of activity in these different bands across different functional locations provides a measure of the different states of the brain, including emotional states, functional processing and so on. Our system uses algorithms based on a combination of accepted measures (for example, frontal asymmetry is linked to feelings of attraction or repulsion, positive or negative feelings) and learned patterns based on data collected from volunteers in controlled experiments who are experiencing the specific emotional states we classify.

Who is your target audience for the Emotiv Insight?

Citizen Scientists, Quantified Selfers, and basically everyone interested in their own brain and improving their performance.

What should customers expect to do or change with the Emotiv Insight?

Emotiv Insight provides metrics for desirable and undesirable characteristics which are familiar to the users, and the recorded levels of these metrics during different sessions of similar activity can be used to reveal details about how the user can improve their performance or mental attitudes based on the differences between specific sessions. For example, does playing classical music allow you to focus more or less when you are studying? Do you study better late at night or early in the morning? With the feedback provided by Emotiv Insight detections you will be able to assess and improve your performance.

The Emotiv Insight brainwear™ can also understand and decipher basic mental commands. It can detect commands such as push, pull, levitate, rotate and even commands that are harder to visualize such as disappear. It also detects facial expressions such as blinks, winks, frown, surprise, clench and smile.

The Insight seems to be targeted for consumer use – will it also be sold to researchers? What other applications does the device have?

At launch, consumers can download a free mobile app (Android/iOS) that measures, tracks and helps them improve their Attention, Focus, Engagement, Interest, Excitement, Affinity, Relaxation and reduce Stress levels. You will get a much better idea of your productivity profile. When you’re paying attention, the time of day and how long you can pay attention for, your interest levels, your bursts of focus. How well you can relax, your stress levels.

The app will allow you to specify the kinds of activities you are undertaking and the surrounding context. After a brief calibration where you relax and provide the system with your background mental state, the application will collect information about your chosen activities and combine it with other contextual information. Your mental activities are monitored and the many different metrics are calculated and may be displayed in real time.

The data is uploaded to our cloud server where it can be analyzed further and compared with your other sessions, and also with those of your friends, the population norms for your own demographic group and the entire population, depending on the kinds of reports you wish to generate. This allows you to put your performance in context, strive to score better or improve faster than your social group, or simply improve your own performance against your own prior sessions. The level of interaction with your social group and the general population can be selected and changed at any time and your data is always kept private until you choose to share it.

Research has shown that when you are made aware of all of these indicators, people are better informed and empowered to make decisions to optimize and improve their cognitive fitness and performance.

Emotiv offers a platform to conduct research and/or develop applications for the EMOTIV INSIGHT. This includes the necessary drivers, a fully specified API for application development and analysis tools for EEG research applications.

Will the Emotiv Insight be partnering with other companies in terms of collaborating in gaming/software, white labeling or product compatibility?

Yes, We’ve already made announcements partnering with fellow Kickstarter projects for Wig Wag and Burnstar.  We’re looking forward to partnering with other companies to build out more integrations and apply Emotiv Insight in many uses.

When is the expected launch of the product? Will there be any changes to the product not described on the original Kickstarter campaign?

We’re looking forward to producing Insight to hit general release next April 2014.

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Japan: Healthy Eating Makes an Impact

During these past three weeks spent in Asia, I’ve noticed that the citizens of Japan are generally, as a whole, very healthy. In fact, for the past 20 years, Japan has been ranked number one in the world in both life expectancy and healthy life expectancy rates. Experts contribute this mainly to diet – traditional Japanese food is low in fat and cholesterol, which are main contributors to heart disease.

Now I’m not suggesting that you incorporate tofu, seaweed, fish, rice and miso into your daily diet, but in terms of looking at the health of Japan versus the health of the United States these past few decades as a longitudinal study, cutting down on saturated fats and complex sugars becomes obvious to maintaining good health.

To be transparent, as I ate the aforementioned five ingredients three times a day for a week in Japan, I noticed that the Japanese do like their salt. Heavy salt intake can lead to other issues including high blood pressure, which coincidentally is one of the major risk factors for death among adults in Japan. Nonetheless, this trip has made it exceptionally clear to me what cutting down on saturated fats and sugar can do for my health long term.

Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion, Kyoto); Even the train food is healthy and well proportioned (Shinkansen Bullet Train); Typical breakfast in Tokyo

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