Tag Archives: technology

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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Gero Lab: Using Everyday Movement to Predict Risk of Age-Related Diseases

Locomotome, as coined by the Human Locomotome Project is a set of human locomotive data that can be analyzed to predict human stress levels and proclivity of age-related metabolic or degenerative disorders.

Gero Lab, a new and burgeoning company in this space, has been collecting locomotome data to discover markers of age-related diseases and evaluate the clinical importance of these markers. They have an app that collects initial answers to health questions and then uses activity data from devices like FitBit, Jawbone, and Bodymedia to further cement their locomotome models. Users are then sent metrics on their neurological state and potential health conditions, increasing their awareness of various health factors important for early prevention and lifestyle changes.

Gero co-founder Vera Kozyr answers some of my questions below.

What was the driving force to create Gero? What are the company’s goals?

We were originally studying different biological signals including transcriptome and genome signals, looking for signatures of aging and associated chronic deceases. Then we realized that the locomotome signal is extremely rich and much more convenient to gather, so we adjusted all our mathematical models and algorithms for it. The goal of our company is to create a convenient (non-invasive and seamless) and reliable tool for the early stage diagnosis of different diseases.

How can data collected and used in Gero models be translated into action items for users?

Awareness is very important when it comes to health. Early warnings can be impactful, especially for slowly developing health conditions. For example, life-style changes during the early stages of diabetes type 2 can significantly slow down the development of the disease or even reverse it. In the future, after passing FDA approval, GERO technology could also be used by doctors for preventative measures.

What are some of the most interesting bits of data that you have gathered so far? What is to come?

The key takeaways of our first 3,000 Fitbit study (finished in November of last year) are:

  • Motor activity contains signatures of particular chronic deceases (metabolic, psychiatric and neurological)
  • Low-resolution trackers (e.g. Fitbit, Jawbone, etc.) can also be used with GERO’s mathematical model with sufficient tracking time
  • We are already passed the proof of concept phase to detect particular health conditions with accuracy

We keep working on increasing the accuracy of our algorithms. Along with disease risks and trends, we have learned to detect biological age and gender. At the moment we are focusing on diabetes and soon will publish some of our very interesting findings.

How does the app / data interface help users?

As we are still in the research stage we don’t claim that our app helps users at the moment. It collects activity data and helps to develop our technology. Individual health reports that we will release to our participants of course might potentially help by giving awareness of health conditions and showing their trends.

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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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Pact: Beautiful Redesign Incentivizes You to Keep Healthy Habits

Pact (formerly GymPact) relaunched this year with a new name and new features. The app penalizes you ($5 charge minimum per missed event), for not reaching your pre-set fitness, eating, and diet goals. On the flip side, you are monetarily rewarded for every goal you do reach.

For exercise, you can check into a gym, use apps like RunKeeper and Moves, or activity trackers like the Jawbone UP or Fitbit devices to measure your steps. For fruit and veggie tracking, you take a photo of your meal and post it on Pact to be reviewed and accepted/declined by others in the Pact community. The diet portion requires you to track your meals using MyFitnessPal.

The new app is designed cleanly and is easy to use, updating information from trackers and apps almost immediately. Weekly emails confirm how much you owe vs. earned.

Pact isn’t failsafe and people who want to cheat by checking into gyms they pass on the street or entering bogus meal info into MyFitnessPal can still earn the $0.10 to $0.30 per event – but with such low dollar values, it’s not worth it. With Pact I check my UP steps throughout the day, making sure that I get to 10,000 steps before the day is over because in the end it isn’t earning 25 cents that matters to me, but losing the $10. Pact is slowly changing my habits and it’s a great way to kickstart a health goal.

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Founder Interview: Jon Pearce, CEO of Zipnosis – Online Diagnosis and Treatment is Here

Zipnosis is an online service that diagnoses and treats common medical conditions, 24/7, by a board-certified clinician. Yes – finally a service that can prescribe you medication to common conditions by just knowing current symptoms and past history.

There are existing companies that introduce telemedicine through complex solutions using live streaming video, focused on diagnosing tough conditions. Zipnosis differs by first entering the market to treat all the millions of people with simple, more common conditions.

As Jon Pearce, CEO of Zipnosis, describes it, “If other telemedicine companies are like Blockbuster, Zipnosis is more like Netflix. We are web based and can be used on any device. We’ve been able to build a company that is a true digital platform between a patient and a provider. We are targeting more than just information – we are focused on diagnosis, treatment and triage.”

Busy growing, the company has gone from treating an initial 8-9 conditions to adding about 40 more conditions last year, and focusing this year on triage and chronic conditions. Zipnosis can be used in 14 states and expanding, and is busy partnering with health systems to expand their diversified base of clinicians. Over time, Zipnosis will broaden from treating common conditions to include chronic ones, such as cardiac disease and hyperlipidemia.

What are users saying? The company has over 90% satisfaction rates. The clinicians prescribe by guidelines, giving better, more consistent quality care. “96% of the patients that we talk to tell 3-4 people because it’s so transformative,” Jon says. “We know it works and it works quickly and accurately. People should not be afraid of the way we are offering diagnosis and treatment. It is rooted in clinical data and successes and it is a safe and effect way to get care.”

Zipnosis is leading the way to a new, leaner and faster way to get answers and treatments to immediate health concerns. Jon assured me that California is on their short list of states they will be expanding to, and I look forward to using them. For those in the lucky 14 states, try Zipnosis the next time you need an answer.

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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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Glow: Max Levchin’s New Fertility App Will Leave You Glowing

Entrepreneur Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal, Chairman of Yelp, and Yahoo! Board Member, launched his latest project, HVF in 2011 to tackle modern problems with data-driven strategies. Two companies have successfully spun out of HVF, Affirm and Glow. While Affirm tackles the challenges of the financial industry, Glow focuses on helping couples get pregnant. Max answers some of my questions regarding Glow.

Using data and machine learning, Glow asks women using the app to input a few details about their menstrual cycle, basal body temperature, etc., to reveal a personalized fertility calendar, showing the “% chance of pregnancy” for each day. A companion app for the partner helps make the experience more inclusive for the couple.

A: Data analysis is your specialty, but manual data entry is prone to human error. In what ways does Glow more accurately collect information?

ML: Today, mostly through excellent visual and experience design, and some basic gamification ideas, we make it easy and compelling to stay on track with your logging. Soon, however, we envision integrating with personal trackers, both software and hardware (existing and new), to make the process entirely passive. We have just partnered with MyFitnessPal, which makes tracking calories, BMI, and fitness events a lot easier for MFP users that also use Glow – they never have to do it twice. This is a very nice feature, with a lot more in the same vein coming soon.

Unlike other pregnancy apps on the market, Glow has a very special community sourced, non-profit program called Glow First. Couples using Glow First contribute $50/month to a pool for a 10-month duration. If the couple becomes pregnant during those 10 months, their contributions stop. At the end of the 10 months, the pool of donations redistributes to couples who aren’t pregnant. With proof of medical costs, Glow First will pay for infertility treatments at an accredited infertility clinic of the couple’s choice. Max has personally donated $1 million of his own money to the Glow First program.

A: Glow First is the first of its kind – to collect and offer a pool of community contributions in an industry that insurance companies refuse. What makes First work today versus in the past?

ML: It’s actually not the first time this type of a financial mutual-help system has been built – it works really well in small communities where people know each other and adverse selection is not a major issue. But it has not been done at scale. Smartphones and real-time communications enable this change – you can learn as much as you need before making a decision, and once you choose to go forward, the process is almost frictionless.

Glow announced last month that the app has helped over 1,000 people get pregnant so far.

A: The Glow app is beautiful in its design. Can you speak as to how design is important to Glow and more generally?

ML: It’s absolutely a critical part of the approach. Conception is a very intimate, and frequently for our users, a complicated process – it’s key we do not disrupt it, but enhance it, and where we can, add beauty and simplicity. There has been a fair amount of research showing that any form of stress negatively affects likelihood of conception. We hope to bring peace and calm to our users through our design, in addition to all our data-driven goodness!

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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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The Diet Resolution: Start the New Year with a Healthy Eating Lift

I’ve never stuck to a diet – except when I tried going gluten free (it was difficult and I ended up eating a lot of gluten free pizza, cookies, and candy, defeating the purpose of a healthy alternative diet). Now with Lift to keep me on track, I look forward to tackling a month of diet change.

This year, Lift is launching a Quantified Diet Month where you can either pre-select a diet or use a diet Lift selects for you. For the month of January, Lift will encourage, teach, and help you through the diet via the Lift app. The app will measure and survey you regarding your weight loss, mood, energy, and adherence to learn more about dieting and what works for you.

Here is the list of ten diets you can choose from, below. To learn more, check out this post.

  • Paleo: eat like a caveman, mostly veggies, meats, nuts. Advised by Paleohacks and Nerd Fitness
  • Slow-Carb: lean meat, beans, and veggies; abstain from white foods like sugar, pasta, bread, cheese. Based on Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Body
  • Vegetarian: vegetables, but no meat. Cheese and eggs are optional. Advised by No Meat Athlete
  • Whole foods: eat only recognizable foods and avoid processed ones. Advised by Summer Tomato
  • Gluten-free: no wheat, rye, barley or wheat-based foods
  • No sweets: a simple diet change that affects your insulin swings
  • DASH: USDA’s current recommendation
  • Calorie counting: the old standard
  • Sleep more: the science says this should work. Advised by: Swan Sleep Solutions
  • Mindful eating: learn mindfulness to recognize when you’re full. Advised by ZenHabits and the Center for Mindful Eating
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