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    NeuroGum: Chewing Gum Developed To Improve Your Brain Fitness

    Chewing gum while working has long been considered by some to help aid concentration and while there’s no solid evidence to prove it (excluding one small sample study) many people still use it as a means to be more focussed and effective while performing tasks.

    That may change considerably however thanks to a new Indiegogo campaign by two ex University of California chemistry and cognitive science grads who have developed NeuroGum, a “focus-boosting energy” nootropic in the form of gum that includes caffeine + L-theanine blend with brain-boosting B vitamins that are, they say, scientifically proven to enhance focus and cognition. For those worried about teeth decay the gum is sugar-free.

    NeuroGum received two years of research and development prior to the campaign launch which has now surpassed its original $10,000 target so the team have introduced a stretch goal to add more flavors and effects. Contributions start at $15 where you’ll receive five packs of nine.

    As our lives are increasingly bombarded with distractions in the form of emails, tweets, posts and messages, NeuroGum could be an aid to help fight digital overload. Provided it works, of course.

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    Daniel Kraft On Quantifying Health

    Stanford and Harvard trained physician, inventor, entrepreneur and one of the most well-known proponents of digital health, Daniel Kraft was recently interviewed on self quantifying our health by Big Think, a knowledge forum which profiles the top thinkers and doers around the world.

    In the video Daniel discusses Vital Connect’s EKG HealthPatch, wearable tech, 3D printing, Interaxon’s Muse headband and a raft of other digital health innovations and their uses. Watch the video below.

    Via Big Think

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    WellPath Uses 23andMe And Fitbit Data To Provide Personalized Health Supplements

    WellPath, a health supplement company that provides personalized nutritional supplements based on a customer’s health profile, has taken health personalization up a notch by beginning to use customers’ 23andMe genetic data and Fitbit activity data.

    WellPath customers are usually required to fill in a 30 question survey based on their health goals to receive their personalized supplements. With the integration of 23andMe and Fitbit, however, fitness enthusiasts and biohackers alike can receive vitamins, minerals and other supplements based on their genetic profile and day-to-day activity. According to TechCrunch, the integration of both provides an additional 46 data points.

    In principle, the concept is sound. The 23andMe data is likely to be more useful than the Fitbit data since the growing field of nutrigenetics allows us to identify which foods and supplements we should both consume and avoid. Services such as DNAFit and Nutrahacker do something similar in this regard.

    What kind of data can you get from Fitbit to determine which supplementation you should take however? Is there anything in the Fitbit data that couldn’t be gleaned from asking the customer in the 30 question survey? Perhaps the sleep data could be of use but activity trackers including Fitbit are notoriously bad at tracking sleep. That said, as activity trackers like Fitbit add more features (and accuracy) WellPath will be in a great position capitalize on it.

    This is another example of how health and wellness is becoming more personalized to the individual. Contrary to Tyler Durden’s claims, we are all unique snowflakes and require health programs that reflect this. All the way down to the genetic level and hopefully soon to the microbiome level.

    WellPath’s promo video is below.

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    The OURA Ring Could Be The Answer To Your Sleep Problems

    This Kickstarter campaign could be one of the most exciting wearable product announcements in quite a while. The OURA ring has been introduced to help you get more rest and to perform better by analyzing your sleep and the intensity of your activity levels.

    There is a plethora of activity tracking wearables on the market at present but where all of them fail is in sleep tracking. In fact, there hasn’t been a consumer ready wearable that provides accurate sleep data since the demise of Zeo over two years ago but the OURA could change this.

    According to the Kickstarter page the ring continuously measures three data points: the finger’s pulse waveform, the time between heartbeats (also known as heart rate variability) and the body’s temperature. From these data points it calculates heart rate, respiration rate and other parameters needed to accurately analyze sleep in order to create the wearer’s sleep profile including the different stages of sleep such as deep sleep, REM sleep and light sleep, and periods of wakefulness during the night. While the wearer is awake it monitors the duration and intensity of activity and the time spent sitting.

    Data is fed into an app which looks to identify patterns between sleep quality and daily activities. Depending on your sleep quality the app will determine your readiness to perform by adjusting the intensity and duration of the wearer’s activity on that day.

    OURA ring app
    The OURA ring app

    How accurate pulse waveform is to determine sleep quality remains I don’t know. The Zeo headband analyzed EEG (brainwave) data which is a common measure in medical sleep analysis but research has shown that pulse waveform changes through sleep and is a marker of brain activity.

    OURA is also partnering with personal data platform, We Are Curious (CEO of We Are Curious and co-founder of 23andMe, Linda Avey we interviewed some time ago) so OURA users can share their data with sleep researchers from around the world.

    One issue the OURA ring may face is the wearability factor. The imagery and messaging in the Kickstarter campaign show it’s targeted to both male and female but, other than a wedding ring, the majority of males don’t usually wear them. That said, some may use it purely for the sleep data and only wear it while in bed. I would.

    One thing is certain though, the OURA ring will successfully go well beyond its target Kickstarter goal of $100,000. At the time of writing it’s over $200,000 with 34 days to go.

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    Scientists May Have Found The Obesity Gene

     

    A gene that could be the cause of why some people are more susceptible to become obese has been found by scientists according to a new study.

    Scientists at the University of British Colombia have discovered what they call the obesity gene. The gene in question encodes a protein called ’14-3-3zeta’. It’s in every cell in the body and controls the number of fat cells.

    Scientists silenced what the believe is the obesity gene in mice. It resulted in a 50 percent reduction of ‘white fat’. This is the unhealthy fat associated with obesity and diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

    Suppressing the gene through drug therapy could prevent fat from accumulating in people who are overweight.

    If their theory proves right this could be a huge boon for the global healthcare system. Obesity costs far outweigh war, violence and terrorism according to reports. In the U.S. obesity adds $190bn every year to the healthcare bill which equates to 21 percent of total expenditure.

    James Johnson, a professor of cellular and physiological sciences at the university said, “Until now, we didn’t know how this gene affected obesity [but] this study shows how fundamental research can address major health problems and open up new avenues for drug discovery.”

    A potential downside of such a treatment could lead people to believe there is a ‘quick fix’. Allowing them to continue with their unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle.

    This approach would surely cause other health issues to arise whether they’re obese or not. Healthy lifestyle habits would have to go hand-in-hand with such a treatment.

    Regardless, the potential benefits far outweigh the negatives and this is an exciting discovery in the field of personal genomics.

    Via globalnews.ca

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    Improve Your Meditation With The Muse Headband

    Muse headband

    It’s no secret that the modern world is becoming more fast-paced, complex and stressful thanks in part to our use and increasingly dependency on technology.

    The powerful computers we carry around all day that continuously notify us with alerts from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and ping us from messaging apps such as Whatsapp, iMessage and KIK are something that previous generations never had to contend with.

    The always-on 24/7 lifestyles we lead where replying to work emails on evenings and weekends is the standard and where sitting on a chair in front of a large screen ten hours a day is becoming more commonplace as work in the Western world shifts from blue collar to white are putting strains on everybody’s mental fitness.

    Our constantly distracted and wandering minds are feeling the strain so it’s no surprise that Eastern relaxation practices such as meditation, mindfulness and yoga are seeing a surge in the Western world.

    Though technology can often be the cause it can also be the cure and a growing market of devices that monitor and control the body’s stress mechanisms by providing neurofeedback data are coming to market, one of which is the Muse EEG headband.

    What is the Muse headband?

    Muse headset features
    Muse headset features. Via choosemuse.com

    The Muse headband is a consumer-ready EEG (electroencephalogram) headband from Toronto-based InteraXona that measures the electrical activity in your brain. It allows you to practice meditating while at the same time receive neurofeedback on how well you are doing.

    The headband has seven sensors that detect brainwave activity and with an accompanying app displays this activity visually so you can analyze the data over time.

    Muse debuted at CES in 2013 but originally started as an Indiegogo campaign in 2012 raising almost $300,000 and has received a further $7.2m prior to its launch last year.

    What is EEG?

    Your brain’s cells communicate via electricity and produces different electrical waves depending on the activity it’s performing. For example, Delta waves are produced during sleep, Alpha waves when the mind is relaxed and calm, and Beta waves occur when our minds are actively thinking.

    Overactive thinking can often lead to anxiety and stress, and EEG allows you to identify this activity and train the brain to become more resilient during these times. Recording EEG has been around for many years but was largely used in research labs until recently as the sensor technology is becoming better, cheaper and more suitable for the consumer market.

    brain-waves-png
    Brainwaves illustration via Viscambio

    How does EEG (and The Muse) help in brain fitness?

    It’s been known for years that meditation has numerous health benefits including helping calm the mind. Studies have shown that when you’re in a meditative state your brain produces alpha and theta waves, and those who practice meditation regularly can train their brain to operate in these states during times of stress and mental discomfort.

    But the question is, when you’re practicing meditation how do you know if your brain’s producing these wave types?  Well with EEG tools like the Muse we can use neurofeedback data to understand how and when the brain is in a meditative state by receiving real-time feedback as well as see improvements over time.

    Muse-headband
    The Muse in its box

    How do you use the Muse headband to train your brain?

    Screenshot 2015-08-07 13.34.11
    Aside from pushing my ears out the Muse headband is comfortable to wear 🙂

    The Muse headband fits around the forehead and tucks in behind both ears. To pick up the brainwave activity each sensor has to have direct contact with the skin during calibration and the session itself.

    According to InteraXona the brain changes moment to moment so therefore the headband has to be calibrated before each session to ensure that it provides accurate feedback. Running a session requires the headband, an accompanying smartphone (or tablet) app synced via Bluetooth and a set of headphones connected to the device to deliver neurofeedback data in the form of sounds to your ears depending on how your brain is performing. Session times are run on the user’s own personal preference (I currently run 12 minute sessions).

    There are two different audio settings: the first is as if you’re on a beach. If your mind is calm so is the beach but if your mind begins to wander then the sounds of sweeping winds and crashing waves can be heard. Bring your mind back and the beach is calm again.

    The second setting, which I prefer, is basically the sound of rain which increases or decreases depending on your brain activity. Both settings include bird chirping sounds which signal that you have quietened the winds and rain for a long period of time. On the flipside, hearing the birds can be a distraction too so staying focussed as they chirp is part of the challenge.

    Muse app displays

    The verdict

    First and foremost the Muse headband certainly works. After a good session (‘good’ because the data told me so) I feel a sense of calm and clarity much like I would after regular ‘eyes closed and focussed on the breath’ meditation session.

    The EEG neurofeedback from the device helps me get back into the meditative zone after my mind has begun to wander. There’s nothing like a big crashing wave or a burst of heavy rain to make you aware that your mind has wandered!

    That said, for me the Muse isn’t a replacement for regular meditation but rather a training device to get into deeper meditation. What I’ve found is, because of the real-time feedback, the Muse allows me to identify the process my mind has to take to get my into a deep state. This same process I’ve applied to regular meditation sessions which have helped me get into a deeper state for longer.

    Think of it like this: the Muse allows you to train and build your focus just as lifting weights allows you to train and build your muscular strength. The 500+ minutes I’ve spent using the Muse have certainly helped me to go deeper for longer in regular meditation and for that reason I’ll continue using it. Plus the neurofeedback data it provides allows you to compete with yourself to reach higher point scores.

    InteraXona is still a start-up and I have had a couple of issues with my Muse after the app has been updated. One big app update caused the Muse to be unable to find a signal from a couple of the headband sensors so I was unable run a session which was frustrating to say the least. Frustration being the last thing you want before meditating.

    There have been a couple of issues while calibrating the headband before a session too but that said their customer service is responsive and bugs are usually fixed pretty quickly.

    I’d recommend the Muse to anyone who is serious about improving their meditation and who enjoys pouring over data after training. At $299 it isn’t cheap so for now it’s probably only for the more hardcore quantified selfers and neurotech enthusiasts.

    In my n=1 experiment however it’s no gimmick and a wearable tech product that does provide a genuine benefit.

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    Why Your Smartphone Will Radically Change Healthcare

    Here’s an excellent discussion on the digital health revolution between The Atlantic journalist Corby Kummer and Eric Topol, M.D. where they cover a wide spectrum of topics relating to technology’s impact on healthcare. The use of ‘smartphone’ in the title is slightly misleading as they cover more than just mHealth and because, of course, the smartphone is the platform for the digital health stack. Interesting video non-the-less.

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    Embracing The Consumer Health Opportunity

    From Brand Publisher: Arthur D. Little

    The number of companies entering the healthcare market has vastly increased, making it an interdisciplinary arena for many sectors with many companies from other industries seeing new opportunities in the sector and trying to enter it.

    At the same time consumer behavior is changing as people become more sophisticated in their use of technology and expect greater access to self-help healthcare solutions. In this article the authors provide the background to this underlying change in consumer behavior and examine three cases of new business models implemented to successfully capture the consumer health opportunity. 

    Healthcare is no longer solely a business sector for companies in traditional life science core industries such as pharmaceuticals, medtech and diagnostics. It is rapidly becoming an interdisciplinary arena that is of interest to businesses from many other industries, such as R&D-driven food and beverage companies, consumer electronics, telecom, housing/real estate, and retail.

    This is because of the increasing sophistication of consumers, combined with the drive towards healthier lifestyles, which is leading to the creation of new, cross-industry business opportunities. Innovative technologies that enable increased access to information and greater possibilities for knowledge sharing have led to health consciousness moving from a niche to a mainstream market.

    In addition, aging populations and strong pressure to reduce national healthcare expenditure are driving new business development and exciting consumer health R&D activities in developed countries. Responding to the demands of consumers can potentially be a partial remedy for cost-pressured public and insurance-based healthcare systems, while also providing new business opportunities.

    This article provides a background to the underlying changes in consumer behavior and examines three case studies of new business models that have been implemented to successfully capture the consumer health opportunity.
    Patient in the center

    Technological development and changing purchase and consumption patterns

    Today’s technological landscape is completely different from the recent past. New generations of consumers use mobile technology as a natural extension of themselves. Consumers are adopting broadband: 34% of the global population now has access to it. Europe is embracing mobile devices: 38% of European consumers own a smartphone or a tablet. Online retail is annually growing by double digit percentages. Looking further ahead, the Internet of Things (IoT) is extending connectivity to cars, houses and medical equipment, for example.

    New technology is also leading to changes in consumption patterns – in the retail world the role of the traditional store is changing as online and mobile shopping becomes more prevalent and different consumption modes overlap. Today’s consumers want the ability to buy when and where they want. This means that retailers and consumer goods suppliers must adopt a multichannel or omnichannel approach centered around online stores.

    These technology and consumption trends also apply to the healthcare world. As retail consumption patterns change, the same trends spill over into the consumption and provision of healthcare.

    The future development of consumer healthcare

    Consumer health is a broad definition, covering everything from a gym-goer aiming to stay healthy to a patient looking to manage a chronic disease. Consequently, it is composed of a number of business areas, ranging from the large and mature, such as over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceutical sales, to expected fast-growth markets, such as wearables and mobile apps. The common denominator is that they are all centered on the patient/consumer. Within the consumer health space it is the individual who is paying the costs and making the decisions.

    Selected consumer health segments

    As a consequence of technological development, both consumers and patients are better informed, have a wider choice, and demand increased personalization. Today, patients have plenty of options on where to go for information, and once they reach the doctor’s office they already have their own hypotheses on potential diseases and disease management. Patients are also increasingly open to non-state funded solutions and are looking towards solutions outside of cost-pressured healthcare systems.

    On top of this, pressure on the public financing of classical healthcare provision is pushing patients towards more self-care. The increased prevalence of “diseases of affluence” and an aging population means health systems must move from acute towards preventative care and chronic disease management. As this happens, healthcare and consumer health increasingly converge.

    Players within traditional healthcare systems will therefore need to adapt to consumer needs and requirements as new entrants step into the market from the consumer side.

    Opportunities offered

    The actions required to reap the benefits of this development depend on existing capabilities, but it is clear that new business opportunities are available both to established healthcare players and to new entrants. The qualities required to succeed are likely to be a combination of those possessed by the two. In order to capture consumers’ interests, players already in the market need new perspectives, whereas new entrants need to ensure health knowledge and credibility.

    The consumer health space is naturally more oriented towards screening and prevention, and towards capturing consumers before they become patients. The successful business models of the future will be associated with giving a large population access to awareness and “prevention” solutions. Innovation will clearly be a driving force here, both in terms of technology and in the development of “consumer-friendly” business models.

    New entrants

    New players can leverage existing expertise from their original markets and use them for healthcare products and applications. Telecom operators, who are facing margin pressure in their core business, are looking towards connected devices, for example, for remote patient monitoring, to be a strong revenue driver going forward.

    Retailers are also rapidly moving into the health related services market. One development here is the introduction of health centers where retailers incorporate professional medical services into their offerings. This repositioning of stores is an efficient way of attracting health conscious customers looking for a one-stop-shop where all their needs are met. A real-life example of this is the health station concept introduced by LAWSON, an Asian chain of convenience stores.

    Health station in your town

    A similar concept is also used by Walmart in the US, which provides low-cost primary care doctor sessions in-store. Real estate owners and operators also see these “health centers” as sources of profitable growth at a time when demand for retail space is reducing.

    There are also completely new businesses emerging. Companies such as LifeQ, which uses computational systems biology to provide consumers with actionable health information, are trying to fill gaps in existing solutions and thus enable a shift towards a patient-centric model.

    While new players might lack the credibility offered by a strong healthcare brand, those from the B2C space are strongly consumer centric and have a deep understanding of their target groups, as well as products and technology that can potentially be leveraged for consumer health applications.

    Adjacent industries

    For industries that border healthcare, such as food and beauty, consumer health represents a growth market as well as a way to create a positive brand image. Willingness to spend money on diet options perceived to be healthy is increasing enormously and traditional food giants such as Nestlé are developing “health brands”.After recent food scandals it has become vital for the giants toprove that their food is indeed healthy. One way of doing so is by clearly linking the brand to a healthcare value proposition.

    Other companies have gone even further and have extended their value proposition to diagnosis and active lifestyles improvements, as exemplified in the diagnosis and nutrition solution case study.

    Existing healthcare players

    The development of consumer health offers a potential for healthcare players to make money outside of their traditional business models and customer groups. Health service providers (such as Mayo Clinic) are using their health related brand strength to expand into all types of health related services and products aimed at both consumers and professionals. Just as it is possible for retail players to add healthcare capabilities to become health centers, it is possible for professional health service providers to dedicate space and time to consumer driven business and achieve theme-oriented retail concepts. In Japan, “anti-aging clinics” are an attractive segment for younger doctors looking to broaden their medical offering outside of public coverage.

    The increased amount of information available to patients is not only positive. It also provides a huge challenge for healthcare as hypotheses are often developed from various sources and without clinical education. This tends to drive cost for healthcare as patients demand expensive examinations and tests even if they are not relevant. Healthcare providers who can provide their patients with information in a consumer-friendly manner could gain control by providing constructive information that aligns patient expectations with the medical reality. Hospitals can further respond by transforming themselves into client-centered organizations that are always connected with their patients, both before they enter hospital and after they leave. A best practice example is the Mayo Clinic, which proactively manages knowledge sharing and interaction with patients through online channels and social media.

    Traditional healthcare players should consider broadening their offering to gain additional revenue and customer reach. There is also a potential to partner with retail or consumer goods players who have to ensure they are delivering solutions that appeal to consumers.

    Insights for the executive – Capturing the opportunity

    Over the course of the last decade the consumer health industry has risen as an important force that is reshaping the future of healthcare, enabling an individual-centric model whereby consumers play a more central and informed role, alongside providers, in healthcare prevention, maintenance and ultimately, treatment. One thing is clear – there is enormous market potential in this cross-dimensional opportunity space. All players need to improve weak capabilities and leverage strengths:

    • Existing players such as care providers and life sciences companies need to build consumer insight and sales capability, leveraging their healthcare knowledge.
    • Adjacent players such as food & beverage and beauty companies need to focus on credibility and validation of health claims to satisfy increasingly aware regulators.
    • New entrants such as telecom operators, consumer electronics companies, retailers and facilities/housing companies will need to build adequate understanding of how to succeed in the highly regulated healthcare space, whilst leveraging their consumer insight and digital technology strengths.

    In the center, of course, is the consumer. Future users of the consumer health offering need to be carefully segmented and understood. Today there are many means to shadow customer groups to identify their interests, needs, preferences and buying patterns. Big data generated through mobile internet applications enables companies to gain a much better understanding of the target groups. Consumer understanding then needs to be combined with insight into medical and health developments to find technologies and products that match consumer demand.

    Players targeting the consumer health opportunity space need to anticipate what the world will look like several years in the future and what kind of solutions will be offered to consumers. Examining what type of markets, channels and technologies that can or should be targeted is key.

    Based on the expected outcome companies need to decide where to be present and build the capabilities required. Cross-industry collaboration can also be expected to increase as a result of industry convergence.

    Companies that have shown the ability to capitalize on the development so far have a number of traits in common:

    • They master new technologies.
    • They are knowledgeable of, and take into account, consumer behavior as well as healthcare development.
    • They are not afraid to make changes to their existing business models or test completely new business models to capture a new target customer group.

    For those that succeed, the rewards are likely to be substantial.

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    Smart Rope Is The Smartest Jump Rope You’ve Seen

    We’ve known for years that jumping rope has numerous health and wellbeing benefits. It’s great for the heart, burning calories, coordination, stability and, lastly, it puts less pressure on the joints compared to other high impact activities like running. And of course the piece of rope continues to be a key requirement of any self-respecting world class boxer.

    In the age of wearables and digital fitness the humble jump rope has been upgraded thanks to South Korea based design company, Tangram Design Lab. The Smart Rope is a jump rope with a difference. It has 23 LEDs embedded in the rope which transmit jump data in front of the user’s eyes as they’re working out.

    Smart Rope currently tracks jump count and calories burned with recommendations on interval training based on the user’s BMI and jump rope ability, though there are plans to add additional features as the product develops.

    There is an additional ‘Smart Gym’ app that connects to the Smart Rope via Bluetooth that tracks jump data and makes custom workout recommendations.

    Smart Rope technology
    The sensor technology housed in the Smart Rope handle

    All the technology including the sensors and Bluetooth 4.0 transmitter are housed in the Smart Rope handle. Much like other Bluetooth devices the Smart Rope is paired to a smartphone to communicate with the app.

    Smart Rope is currently in prototype form and Tangram Design Lab is running a successful Kickstarter campaign that has smashed its $60,000 target. You can currently order one from the Kickstarter page for $60 which also states it’s retail price will likely be $70.

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    Telomeres and the Quantified Self

    Titanovo

    Digital and personalized health is changing the way we think about healthcare. Quantified information about our cellular well-being is no longer just for scientists, but also for those interested in being proactive about their lives.

    Telomeres, for example, strongly correlate to health and longevity, and data on telomere length can be used both by health enthusiasts to make positive lifestyle choices and by researchers to develop proactive health interventions.

    Telomeres: The protective caps of chromosomes

    Simply put, telomeres are the end-caps of chromosomes; they protect the chromosome from deterioration and degradation. Each time a cell divides, the chromosome is imperfectly replicated, which results in shorter telomere length. Upon this happening, telomeres no longer adequately protect chromosomes, which is a key part of the ageing process. Eventually, telomere shortening leads to senescence, or cell death.

    Can telomeres grow?

    It has in fact been shown that telomeres can maintain their length and even grow with positive lifestyle choices. This includes Yoga, endurance exercise, meditation, and a healthy diet (specifically, the Mediterranean diet). Meanwhile, negative lifestyle choices including eating poorly, smoking, and not exercising shorten telomeres. Since longer telomeres correlate to a longer, healthier life, it is in your best interest to live healthy and maintain long telomeres.

    The skeptics: Correlation does not equal causation!

    And they happen to be correct. The fact that telomere length is correlated to various interventions, does not with certainty mean two things

    1) That lengthening telomeres after the fact of telomere shortening will lead to a longer, healthier life

    2) That correlations in big data are necessarily causal

    Starting with the first criticism, numerous studies have shown that increased telomerase activity (an enzyme which increases telomere length) leads to an increase in cellular lifetime, even after shortening. The likely conclusion is that increased telomerase exhibition (which is possible by interventions such as a healthy diet, yoga, and exercise) is likely to extend lifespans partially due to better cellular health.

    Regarding the second, it is absolutely correct. Big data can lead to many incorrect assumptions. For one, the divorce rate in the state of Maine is strongly correlated with US per capita consumption of margarine. While the two are unlikely to be truly related, there is a strong correlation. The same mistake can be made with big data, but it does not mean that big data is not important. There is an important place for big data in the hard sciences, even if it does pose some challenges.

    So how does this relate to me?

    Titanovo
    Image source: Titanovo

    Healthier living in the future is highly dependent on data gathered today. There is no way to change the fact that computers are a big part of modern life and physical labor is largely unproductive. People are living longer but also encountering unprecedented health challenges due to sedentary lifestyles, new forms of pollution, and the consequences that come with our bodies enduring more years. Humanity must find new ways to be healthy, without relying solely on a traditional methods of staying well. We must see technology as the solution to our health problems, not the problem.

    Today, several companies (Titanovo included) are working on big data projects which collect important health information for researchers to decipher and come up with new, proactive health interventions. It is our hope that in the near future, this data will be used to promote longer, healthier lives. Today, enthusiasts can use this data to better their personal health.

    Personalized and proactive health care may be the next big step in not only treating but preventing a wide range of ailments, individually and as a society.

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    Bypassing Mother Nature To Create New Senses For Humans

    This year’s annual TED conference held in Vancouver, Canada, once again featured some of the great innovators and thinkers changing the world today. One of which was neuroscientist, David Eagleman, whose talk ‘Can we create senses for humans?’ outlines how humans are fairly limited in the application of our senses and hypothesizes an era when we can add ‘plug and play’ sensory devices to enhance our awareness of the world around us.

    It’s a fascinating talk worth 20 mins of anyone’s time and below we’ve included some mind-blowing takeaways transcribed from Eagleman.

    1. The human eye only sees one ten trillionth of lightwaves

    “Even at that slice of reality that we call home we’re not seeing most of the action that’s going on. Take the colors of our world. These are lightwaves which are electromagnetic radiation that bounces off objects and hit specialized receptors in the back of our eyes. We’re not seeing all the waves that are out there. In fact what we see is less than one ten trillionth of what’s out there.

    “You have radio waves, microwaves, X-rays and gamma rays passing through your body right now and you’re completely unaware of it because you don’t come with the proper biological receptors for picking it up. There are thousands of cell phone conversations passing through you right now and you’re utterly blind to it.”

    David Eagleman g

    2. Animals – including humans – have their own interpretation of reality that is limited by their senses

    “Across the animal kingdom, different animals pick up different parts of reality. In the blind and deaf world of the tick important signals are temperature and butyric acid, in the world of the black ghost nightfish its sensory world is lavishly colored by electrical fields, and for the echolocating bat its reality is constructed out of air compression waves.

    “That’s the slice of their ecosystem that they can pick up on and we have a word for this in science, it’s called the ‘umwelt’ which is the German word for ‘the surrounding world‘. Presumably every animal assumes that its umwelt is the entire objective reality out there because why would you ever stop to imagine that there is something beyond what we can sense.

    “What we all do is accept reality as it’s presented to us.”

    3. Technology will expand our umwelt

    “We are firmly settled into our umwelt, but the question is do we have to be stuck there? As a neuroscientist I’m interested in the way that technology might expand our umwelt and how that’s going to change the experience of being human. We already know that we can marry our technology through our biology because there are hundreds of thousands of people walking around with artificial hearing and artificial vision.

    “The brain is a general purpose computer device and it just takes in all the data and figures out what it’s going to do with it and that, I think, frees up Mother Nature to tinker around with different sorts of input channels.

    PH Model of Evolution
    Potato Head Model of Evolution. David Eagleman via Ted

    “I use the Potato Head Model of Evolution name to emphasize that all these senses that we know and love like our eyes, ears and fingertips are merely plug and play devices. You stick them in and you’re good to go, and the brain figures out what to do with the data that comes in.

    “When you look across the animal kingdom you find lots of peripheral devices. Snakes have heat pits to detect infrared, the ghost nightfish has electrode receptors, the star-nose mole has an appendage that has 22 fingers on it which it uses to feel around and constructs a 3-D model of the world, and many birds have magnetites so they can orient to the magnetic field of the planet.

    “What this means is that nature doesn’t have to redesign the brain but all it has to worry about is designing new peripherals.”

    4. Sounds turned into vibration can be interpreted by deaf people

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    “As I’m speaking the sound is getting captured by the tablet and translated into dynamic patterns of vibration to the vest and I’m feeling the sonic world around me. We’ve been testing this with deaf people and it turns out that after just a little bit of time, people can start feeling the language of the vest.

    “The brain starts to unlock the pattern [of the vest vibrations] to figure out what the data mean. Our expectation is that after wearing it [the vest] for three months a user will have a direct perceptual experience of hearing, in the same way a blind person passes a finger over braille, the meaning comes directly off the page without any conscious intervention at all.”

    5. As we move into the future we will increasingly choose our own peripheral devices

    “Just imagine an astronaut being able to feel the overall health of the International Space Station, or having you feel the invisible states of your own health like your blood sugar and the state of your microbiome, or having 360 degree vision or seeing in infrared or ultraviolet.

    “So they key is this: as we move into the future we will increasingly choose our own peripheral devices.

    “We no longer have to wait for Mother Nature’s sensory gifts on her timescales but instead like any good parent, she’s given us the tools we need to go out and define our own trajectory.

    “So the question now is: how do you want to go out and experience your universe?”

    Watch the amazing presentation below.