In Sickness and in Health
Innovations in mobile health care swarm the market
Tech / 6 Dec 2011
Much to the chagrin of real MDs, “Dr. Google” has become many hypochondriacs’ go-to provider of diagnoses for pre-existing health conditions. However, when it comes to monitoring health, simple web browsing lends little assistance. Enter the swiftly developing e-wellness sector. These smart gadgets may not replace doctor visits, but patients who use them wisely do stand to minimize their medical bills.
Jawbone’s UP: No longer are life-saving accessories limited to the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” variety. Jawbone, the company behind such other design-minded mobile technologies as the Jambox, has launched this wristband that tracks its wearer’s movements, sleep patterns, and eating habits. The information is then synthesized to deliver tailored recommendations for leading a healthier lifestyle. The Yves Behar-designed band, what with its motion sensor and water-resistant casing, may look only slightly cooler than a pile of Silly Bandz...but how many other bracelets can tell you to move your butt when you’ve been sitting at your desk for too long?
Scanadu: Mobile phones can do everything from measure blood pressure to identify potential melanomas. Now, one startup with a sci-fi bent is adopting the mission of mainstreaming the concept of a ‘pocket doctor’. Scanadu co-founder and CEO Walter De Brouwer conceived the idea for a personal health monitoring service, in part, from watching Star Trek. Details regarding its first auto-diagnostics product remain clandestine—even TechCrunch ’fessed up to the difficulty of translating the business into layman’s terms—but what we know is that the ‘Medical Tricorder’ is built with parents of young children in mind. Imagine how much waiting time in pediatricians’ offices this could save.
MOTOACTV: Wristwatches are coming back, yet the trend is not limited to analog styles. Indeed, Motorola’s new MOTOACTV model doubles as a workout assistant. The GPS-enabled device contains a smart music player that learns to identify which songs push up wearers’ heart rates the highest and then plays them more often, diminishing the temptation to use “cool down” tracks. Also embedded in the watch is a heart rate monitor, as well as ongoing documentation of performance stats (distance, duration, average pace, calories burned) that live in an online dashboard and are delivered in real time via a Bluetooth headphone set. With all this, who needs a personal trainer?
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