Tag Archives: gadget

Wello: Your Very Own Vital Sign Monitor

Azoi, a healthcare technology company, is now taking pre-orders for their first product release, Wello. Wello is a vital sign monitoring device embedded within a mobile phone case. Users place their fingers on the top and back of the case with the screen held horizontally, display pointed towards them. The Wello app displays captured and calculated health stats, which can also be shared with family, friends, and caregivers. Data include blood pressure, electrocardiography (ECG), heart rate, blood oxygen, temperature, lung function and more. By improving health awareness, the creators of Wello hope that it can help users make more informed lifestyle choices.

According to the World Health Organization, 347 million people have diabetes, heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, and hypertension afflicts nearly a billion people globally. Wello aims to combat these trends by encouraging regular monitoring as a preventative measure, empowering users with the knowledge to identify potential issues and seek advice before they become serious illnesses.

Key Factors Wello Measures:

  • Blood Pressure: Monitors blood pressure easily and accurately. More importantly with multiple readings you begin to see patterns that cause spikes or dips.
  • ECG: Takes an ECG reading without all the fussy wires. An ECG is nothing but mapping the electrical signals of the heart.
  • Heart Rate: Measures and keeps a track of your heart rate or pulse. Your pulse provides glimpses into your state of fitness, potential heart problems or other illnesses.
  • Blood Oxygen: Helps measure your blood oxygen levels, which if low can be dangerous.
  • Temperature: Quickly and easily reads body temperature with the welcome convenience of tracking it. So you know how a fever behaves over time.
  • Lung Function: Reads how much air you can inhale and exhale which may point towards possible obstructions or underlying conditions.

Wello plans to ship in Fall 2014, pending FDA approval.

 

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Skulpt: Quantify Your Muscle Strength and Definition

The Skulpt Aim is the first-ever non-invasive wireless device that measures the composition and quality of muscles. When you press it against major muscle groups, the device’s sensors collect thousands of data points to measure fat percentage and muscle quality in individual muscles as well as in the body as a whole.

MQ, or muscle quality, is a measure of your muscles’ strength and definition. The higher the MQ, the stronger and more defined a person’s body is. Recent articles have noted the dangers of being “Skinny Fat,” or being thin but not toned. Time said, “thin people can sometimes carry the most dangerous kind of fat – and not know it.” The Aim assesses the body by measuring four major muscles (biceps, triceps, abs, and thighs), to create an accurate estimate of your total body fat percentage and MQ.

The Aim tracks even the slightest improvements, and shows those results real time on their dashboard so users can easily visualize their progress. In addition to tracking progress and setting goals, the dashboard provides tailored advice, recommending workouts that specifically target muscles that need improvement.

Started as a medical-grade device that has been used in top US hospitals, the technology underlying Skulpt was first used to measure muscle health of patients with neuromuscular disorders. The founders, Jose Bohorquez and Seward Rutkove realized that their powerful and innovative tech could be simplified into a small, effortless consumer fitness device, and the Skulpt was born. Skulpt is a 2014 International CES Innovations Award winner in the Health and Fitness product category and supporters on Aim’s Indiegogo campaign almost quadrupled their fundraising goal amount. You can pre-order the Skulpt today; launch date May 2014.

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CarePredict: Monitoring Aging Parents for the Tech Generation

Millions of Americans take care of their aging parents while managing work and raising their own families. These adults are part of the ‘Sandwich Generation,’ and are constantly on call to help ailing family members. One of the toughest and most time consuming activities to do as a part-time informal caretaker is to track behaviors and note subtle day-to-day fluctuations that might hint towards bigger issues. CarePredict, founded by Satish Movva, founder of ContinuLink, is a wearable device company that assists adult children in tracking their aging parents’ health and activities.

The Tempo is the company’s first device, which tracks the wearer’s location within the home and learns their normal pattern of movement. Cleverly named, when there is a potential concerning change to the users daily tempo (in activities such as standing, walking, and sitting), the device notifies all caregivers in a text or email about the discrepancy.

The sensor is easy to wear and detects different motions. This motion data is transmitted wirelessly to the CarePredict beacon, which understands the location of the user and sends all the data from the wearable to CarePredict’s servers for analysis. The data can be monitored from an online account or smartphone app. CarePredict, currently taking pre-orders, is slated to launch next month.

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Kinsa Smart Thermometer: World’s First Smart Thermometer and Real-Time Illness Tracking App

Feeling feverish is often the first symptom of getting sick and finally there is a smart thermometer that can calculate, display, and track changes in temperature with one app. The Kinsa Smart Thermometer is beautiful in its design and very easy to use. Not only does it track an individual’s temperature, but it also aggregates geographic health information and user feedback to help understand which illnesses are spreading and where.

I tested Kinsa in beta, and was astonished at how light, flexible and comfortable it is to use. Kinsa is made to be used by the whole family, but is especially well tailored to children. The smartphone display has fun bubbles that makes temperature taking engaging for the fidgety little ones. Each time a temperature is taken, the user can assign it to a person and save the record. Additionally, the precise time of the stored data is helpful information to a doctor.

By the time it is released to the public, Kinsa will have the ability to track the health within private groups (e.g. your child’s classroom, your neighborhood). This innovative spread-of-illness crowdsourcing will be able to create a truly connect, global network of aware families. It also means faster care – if you struck a high temperature and knew that strep was going around, you could head to the doctor when symptoms first appear to get antibiotics and avoid a long recovery.

Something so useful, technology driven, and affordable should be on everyone’s list of must-have health devices. Kinsa is taking pre-orders on their website, to be fulfilled March/April.

 

Kinsa Smart Thermometer from Kinsa on Vimeo.

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Predictions for 2014

I find predictions interesting. Humans make predictions almost carelessly, and unabashed I too enjoy pondering the future. While I may have been conservative last year, here are my predictions for 2014 (and to hopefully be eventually correct, beyond).

“A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.” — New York Times, 1936

  1. Consumer wearables become more accurate by being ingestible or implantable. Order yours online, FDA approved.
  2. Ambiguous grade for gym class? Low class contribution/participation? Schools start to use wearables to grade previously ‘less quantifiable’ subjects and rubrics.
  3. Emergence of classes on how to hide emotions and stress. Glass apps are being made to detect heat/sensory changes that may indicate lying, or body heat temperatures that indicate illness or nervousness.
  4. Political leaders will wear smart glasses.
  5. Medical technologies make great advances – not only more devices like the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System that restores some functional vision to the blind, but also for more cosmetic uses. Plastic surgery will become tech focused. Want a truly photographic memory? There will be an implantable brain chip for that.
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Best in Healthcare For 2013

2013 was a great year for consumer healthcare technology. This year, 95 million Americans have used mobile phones as health tools or as search devices to find healthcare information, paving the way for a more connected and health conscious 2014.

To continue with my annual Year in Review, I present some of my favorite companies and posts in 2013.

A big thank you to my readers for your support, ideas and input.

-Alexis

Best New Entrants into Wearables:

Best Smart Fabric Concepts:

  • Athos — Athletic apparel made with smart fabric and sensors to measure every muscle exertion, heartbeat, and breath
  • OMsignal  — Embedded sensors in the apparel monitor your heart rate, breathing, and activity

 Best Fitness Apps:

  • RunKeeper — GPS app to track outdoor fitness activities
  • Moves — GPS app to track daily activity continuously, shown on a timeline
  • Charity Miles — GPS app that tracks and lets you earn money for charity when you walk, run, or bike

 Best Personalized Coaching:

  • Sessions — Simple, individual, and thoughtful fitness program to help you get healthy
  • Wello — Online workouts with a Certified Personal Trainer in real-time on your mobile device over live video

A New Twist to Common Items:

  • HAPIfork — An electronic fork that monitors eating habits and alerts you when you eat too fast
  • Beam Technologies — A smart toothbrush that monitors oral hygiene and reports habits to a smart app
  • Withings Blood Pressure Monitor — Measures, calculates and tracks changes in blood pressure on graphs

Best Up and Coming:

  • PUSH — Tracks and analyzes performance at the gym; measures power, force and balance
  • Emotiv Insight — Multi-channel, wireless headset that monitors brain activity to optimize brain fitness and measures cognitive health and well-being
  • Scanadu Scout — Medical tricorder to measure, analyze and track vitals
  • MC10 — Stretchable electronics that conform to the shape of the body to measure and track vitals

Best for Healthcare Providers:

  • Pristine — Develops Glass apps to help hospitals deliver safer, more coordinated, more cost effective care
  • Informedika — Marketplace for electronic test ordering and results exchange between healthcare providers
  • IntelligentM — Data-driven hand hygiene compliance solutions for hospitals to dramatically reduce healthcare-acquired infections
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Goji Play Launches: Tops the List of Must Have Fun Fitness Tech

I met with Kai Huang, co-founder and CEO of Blue Goji, and Zach Fountain, COO in a SOMA gym to test out Goji Play, a fusion of hardware and software that turns any cardio fitness machine into an interactive and engaging workout experience. How engaging? After the interview I tried Goji Play at home for thirty minutes and it really did feel like I had only been working out for five – it was totally and utterly immersive. Kai and his team are pros at making games active and social – he co-founded and invented Guitar Hero almost a decade ago.

The device setup is simple. I downloaded the Goji Play App as well as some games while giving the wearable activity sensor a quick charge. I clipped the sensor onto my shirt, but it also fit comfortably in my pocket or on my shoe. Setting up the wireless game controllers meant hitting all the buttons to sync them to the iPad app, which took several seconds.

The controllers are intuitive to use and designed for comfort. They can be fitted on any cardio machine or fixed onto hand batons (great for treadmill workouts). After a few minutes of using the buttons and commands they became second nature and I could focus my attention on exerting more energy into my cardio activity. I downloaded several games including a boxing game, a fast moving game (reminiscent of Mario Cart), and a block matching game similar to Tetris. Twenty minutes on one game felt like two minutes – I was so immersed that time passed quickly and before I knew it I had drummed up a sweat.

From Guitar Hero, Kai witnessed how fun games can inspire people – friends and families – to be more active and social.

How did you make the leap from pure gaming (Guitar Hero) to health and fitness?

KH: “We wanted to take the immersive experience of gaming and use it to inspire people to get active. The power of games is that they get people to engage in an activity in such a way that you often don’t realize how much time has passed because you’ve been so involved. While you are doing this, we are tracking your fitness goals, steps, distance, etc. and truly making this a fitness product.”

How has Guitar Hero influenced the design and hardware of Goji Play, if at all?

KH: “We’ve designed the Goji Play for comfort – we want you to use it on any wireless device and any cardio device in the gym. The hardware is designed to be simple and easy to use – something that everyone feels comfortable using.”

ZF: “On the software side, we area focused on making games that are deep, engaging, immersive experiences. Additional games and apps are in development and will be released on a regular basis.”

Who is your target market?

KH: “Anyone who uses an exercise machine. We have a broad audience from people who have invested in exercise equipment at home to anyone with access to a gym. “

What is the broader vision and mission of Blue Goji?

KH: “We want people to lead healthier lives and we want to get people motivated. If we can take an activity and make it fun while helping you get healthy in the process then we’ve done well.”

ZF: “We want this to have an impact on the entire family and each member can create their own profile. There might be a primary purchaser but because we support multiple profiles and have a wide variety of games we envision the entire household getting value and having some collective fun in getting in shape and using the system together. Also, given that the New Year is around the corner, we think Goji Play can keep people on track with any fitness resolutions.”

KH: “We want people to remember that Goji Play is all about fun and letting you have fun. In the background it’s about pushing you to achieve your fitness goals – but if you have fun using Goji Play, then we’ve succeeded.”

Available online starting today for $99, Goji Play is compatible with the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, and can be used with most cardio equipment including treadmills, stationary and recumbent bicycles, and elliptical machines.

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Athos: Smart Fabric Measures Every Breath, Heartbeat and Muscle Exertion

A smart fabric plus an accelerometer core creates the next level in quantified performance clothing. I spoke with Athos founding team members, Dhananja Jayalath, Chris Wiebe, and Joel Seligstein to learn more about the technology behind Athos.

What’s so special about Athos fabric?

DJ: “The cloth has sensors that are built directly into the fabric. With ECG sensors and muscle output sensors integrated into the clothing, you can very accurately measure heart rate and muscle effort. The Core is the analytics module of the sensors – it’s essentially the computer that collects and analyzes all the stats and sends the data to the mobile app.”

Why did you opt for clothing instead of a wrist / arm wearable?

DJ: “We wanted to capture data from multiple points. We wanted to capture info from your biceps, quads and triceps, which our fabric lets us do. By building the sensors into clothing we think it also makes it easy to use and remember, and helps create a routine.” Since all the sensors are built in, you’ll be able to measure heart rate without a chest strap and get real-time responsive input on how to best train for your goals.

“We believe that apparel is going to get smarter, it’s not just something you cover yourself up with anymore. Athletes will get an advantage in training with Athos unlike what a simple wicking shirt or compression shorts provide.”

Who is your target audience?

Chris: “People who are going on 6am rides or heading to the gym 3-5 times a week with the goal of getting better and stronger – that is our target market.” Athos apparel is focused on people who want to get better at their fitness goals and those who want to analyze their performance and continue to do better. The company’s differentiation factor is that they aren’t trying to motivate stationary people to move more – they want to help athletes be more efficient and train harder. Athos would be an ideal partner for sports teams, events like the Olympics, gyms, and trainers.

“We’ve talked internally about how our data is good enough for pros to use so that they can train for their events but still approachable enough for the average consumer to use.”

How is the app user experience?

Joel: “We are using the app to give tailored insight to what your body is doing. For weightlifters counting reps is important, but if you are riding a bike, cadence and balance and pushing vs. pulling on the pedal is important. Long term, we’ll continue to iterate and make things customized.“

What is the key takeaway here?

DJ: “We are not just about collecting data – we are about giving the user a great experience. We are not just about the hardware – we want to deliver performance and comfort in something that is unique and useful.”
 

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Withings Pulse: Little Tracker, Big Heart (Rate Monitoring)

I had first mentioned the Withings Pulse in June and have finally gotten around to testing it.

What sets the Pulse apart from other pocket-sized wearables is the heart rate monitor on the back of the device, which can measure your heart beat in a few seconds. Since I already have the Withings Smart Body Analyzer Scale and mobile app, my Pulse data gets uploaded to the same place as my weight measurements.

Pros:
1. Two week battery life – I rarely charge it and when I do it uses the same charger as most Android phones. Easy.
2. Heart rate monitor makes it more competitive than the Fitbit One.
3. The online portal is robust and you can download all your data – which is pretty cool for those of us who like data.

Cons:
1. Less accurate than similar wearables. I did not run 8.5 miles at a 7:41 pace last Sunday. In fact, that Sunday was the day after a gorgeous destination wedding, where I unwillingly dragged myself to the gym and did 7 miles at a 10 min/mile pace on a treadmill. For a device + app that knows my height, weight, heart rate, etc. it is surprisingly inaccurate. This was also after the software update.
2. Clip format makes it difficult to use. No surprises here – this is a common complaint of mine for clips in general. There is a reason the Fitbit Flex and the new Fitbit Force are wrist wearables – it is easier to have on at all times. The Pulse is also not waterproof, unlike the Jawbone UP, which I wear into the shower. Every time I change clothes (work clothes, workout clothes, home/lounge clothes, pjs) I have to remember to remove and move the Pulse.
3. Bluetooth upload a little slow – especially if you have a weeks worth of data to upload.

Final thoughts? The Pulse is a nice wearable pocket companion – bonus if you already have the scale. I’m sure as Withings starts to collect more data and tune the Pulse the data collection will only become more and more accurate. At this price point, the Pulse competes with the Fitbit One, which doesn’t have a heart rate monitor.

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OnTheGo Platforms: Using Glass with the Ghost of Running Past

I always run faster in races. When I’m doing a training run, my thoughts tend to wander – I think about my to do list or run various scenarios through my mind. During a race, I spend most of my time thinking about how I should maneuver through a crowded group or how to most quickly pass the person in front of me. I also generally run faster during the second half of a running event, pushing for a negative split as some runners start to tire. But during training runs, I grow complacent, focus less on running, and my mind set is not on competition – it’s on finishing.

I could find a running partner – one who runs at my pace, doesn’t want to have a conversation while we run, and who can make him or herself available based on my schedule – or I can (soon) get a virtual running partner. OnTheGo Platforms is creating apps for smart glasses like Google Glass. Their showcase application, Ghost Runner, shows a ‘ghost’ (when you fall behind) that appears running in pace with your old time. Now you can ‘race’ with the old you – and with each progression, you push yourself to steadily run faster. This is a great start to glasses optimized running / fitness applications and a good proof of concept for Glass. I look forward to seeing more great ideas and apps from OnTheGo.

Ghost Runner Leader board from OnTheGo Platforms on Vimeo.

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