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    Titanovo Quantifies Your Cells To Help You Live A Longer Life

    Titanovo 750

    New York based digital health start up Titanovo has launched a new Indiegogo campaign to allow quantified selfers to understand how healthy their body’s cells are by analyzing the length of the telomeres.

    Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect the chromosome and play an important role in determining how our cells age and thus how we age as individuals. Genetics play a role in the length of our telomeres but as we age they naturally shorten over the course a lifetime, and it is these shortened versions that are linked to many age-related diseases.

    In short, the longer the telomeres the better chance you stand of living a long and healthy life.

    Titanovo say on their Indiegogo page that they have developed the first telomere testing kit which is saliva based and direct to consumer. A product like this would be appealing to a range of audiences including health enthusiasts, quantified selfers, biohackers and potentially the medical industry.

    It looks like Titanovo is taking a similar approach to personal genomics company, 23andMe, and Indiegogo success story, Ubiome, by intending to collect their user data to find health-related correlations in the telomere data set.

    “Telomere Testing Kit will be delivered with a brief survey used to compare your telomere length with others who have taken our test. Thus, the more people that take our test, the more valuable the data will be for researchers and participants.”

    As of writing, the campaign has raised 20 percent of its $20,000 target with 34 days remaining and looks likely to not only surpass it but hit some of the more ambitious stretch goals that have been set.

    After all, who wouldn’t want to understand how healthy their telomeres are? Or better yet, how to elongate them.

    Video on Vimeo via Oleksandr Savsunenko.

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    Top 15 Exoskeletons Merging Man With Machine

    1. Activelink Power Loader

    ActiveLink Ninja
    Activelink Ninja exoskeleton. Image via Wired.

    Named after the powered exoskeleton in the movie Aliens, the Activelink Power Loader comes in two versions and is designed to make hard manual work easy for the wearer regardless of their age, gender or size to “create a barrier free society” according to a press release by Activelink, a subsidiary of Japanese electronics company, Panasonic.

    2. HAL

    Cyberdine HAL
    The HAL exoskeleton. Image via Cyberdine

    The HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) powered exoskeleton from Japan based Cyberdine Inc. (yes, the same name that brought us the Terminator)  started as a prototype in 1997 and is now used in Japanese hospitals to assist disabled patients in their daily activities. The HAL is also being used in construction and it was reported that rescue workers were wearing the HAL suit in the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

    3. Ekso Bionics

    Ekso Bionics
    The Elegs exoskeleton suit. Image via Ekso Bionics.

    Ekso Bionics develops and manufactures powered robotic exoskeletons that help paraplegics to leave their wheelchair and walk. The California based company has a grand vision where exoskeletons will be the “jeans of the future” and used by both paraplegics and able-bodied people to run a marathon or climb Mount Kilimanjaro with ease.

    4. FORTIS by Lockheed Martin

    FORTIS Lockheed Martin
    The FORTIS exoskeleton

    The FORTIS is an industrial exoskeleton developed by Lockheed Martin that allows workers to lift objects weighing up to 36 pounds as if they were weightless. This kind of exoskeleton is perfect for manual workers and Lockheed Martin claims the FORTIS reduces muscle fatigue by 300 percent and increases work rate from 2 to 27 times. FORTIS is used by Lockheed Martin’s shipbuilder employees.

    5. Body Extender

    Body Extender
    The Percro Body Extender

    The Percro Body Extender looks like a smaller version of the Power Loader exoskeleton from sci-fi movie, Aliens.  The Body Extender can lift up to 110 pounds in each hand and can exert 10x the force the user applies. Percro says it can be used for heavy aircraft manufacturing or for aiding rescue missions of victims of earthquakes and other disasters.

    6. The HULC

    HULC Exoskeleton
    HULC exoskeleton. Image via Lockheed Martin

    The HULC (Human Universal Load Carrier) has been developed by Ekso Bionics and licensed by Lockheed Martin, and is a hydraulic exoskeleton which enables soldiers to carry weight of up to 200 pounds while out in the field. It’s battery powered, built from titanium and the load weight is optimized, meaning it’s distributed between the front and back of the suit.

    7. Exosuit

    The Exosuit. Image via The American Museum of Natural History

    The 530 pounds Exosuit built by Nuytco Research is a new-age diving apparatus that allows deep sea divers to plunge over 1,000 feet while still maintaining flexibility in their joints to move around freely (or as freely as possible in a suit this size) allowing scientists to observe, photograph, and collect marine life in areas that are otherwise difficult to explore.

    8. Soft Exoskeleton

    The Soft Exosuit

    DARPA, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, is funding Harvard’s Wyss Institute to develop a ‘soft exoskeleton’ for a range of people including the military, first-responders, elderly and people performing athletic activities. The ‘Soft Exosuit’ can help wearers carry heavy objects for long periods of time with less energy consumption that they would normally use.

    9. The Titan Arm


    Video on YouTube via Wall Street Journal.

    The Titan Arm is a Cornell Cup winning upper-body exoskeleton that was created by students of the University of Pennsylvania for use in the fields of rehabilitation and therapeutic application. The arm can lift 40 pounds in addition to what the wearer’s real arm can lift and is powered by a battery pack attached to the backpack.

    10. Daewoo Exoskeleton

    Daewoo Exoskeleton
    Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering exosuit. Image via New Scientist.

    Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering is one of the largest shipbuilders in the world and this prototype exoskeleton was built specifically to help their shipbuilders become more productive when working with heavy machinery and parts. It can lift objects with a weight of around 65 pounds without wearer exertion though they plan to increase this to 220 pounds in future models.

    11. Running Jetpack


    This prototype running jetpack titled 4MM (Four Minute Mile) is being developed by Arizona State University with funding from DARPA to allow soldiers to run a four minute mile even with heavy equipment. Tests so far have shown that the wearer can run quicker while carrying more weight with less metabolic cost.

    12. ReWalk

    ReWalk Exoskeleton
    The ReWalk exoskeleton.

    Massachusetts based ReWalk is a wearable robotic exoskeleton which allows people with Spinal Cord Injury to stand up and walk by powering knee and hip movement. The FDA approved exoskeleton helps those confined to wheelchairs live a more active and practical life.

    13. WREX

    wrex exoskeleton

    The Wilmington Robot Exoskeleton (WREX) has been developed by Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for children with muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, and arthrogryposis. The parts for the exoskeleton are 3D printed allowing it to be specifically customized for the wearer. A heartwarming example of the WREX being put to use was covered by CNN.

    14. The Walk Again Project

    Walk Again Project

    The opening of the 2014 FIFA Soccer World Cup in Brazil saw Juliano Pinto, who is paralysed from the waist down, kick the World Cup ball using an exoskeleton connected to the neurons in his brain. Developed by Duke University, the exoskeleton is part of the ‘Walk Again Project’ and was created by a team of 150 and led by neuroscientist and leading figure in brain-machine interfaces, Dr Miguel Nicolelis. In short, Mr Pinto just had to think about kicking the ball which registered the brain activity to activate the exoskeleton to move.

    15. The XOS 2

    Raytheon XOS2 exsokeleton
    The Raytheon XOS 2 exoskeleton. Via YouTube.

    The Raytheon XOS 2 has been designed for the military in mind and allows the soldier wearing it to carry heavy equipment over long distances without getting tired, rescue wounded soldiers from the battlefield, and fire a weapon that usually requires two people to operate. The XOS 2 allows the wearer to lift up to 200 pounds repeatedly without breaking a sweat.

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    The Smartphone Is The Platform For The Digital Health Stack

    “Mobile is eating the world” says Andreessen Horowitz’s Benedict Evans in his epic presentation deck of the same name, where he outlines the rapid growth of the mobile industry in 45 slides. More specifically, however, Evans means the ‘smartphone industry’ is eating the world since slide 7 of said deck clearly states that by 2020 80% of all adults on earth will own a smartphone.

    While these powerful computers that we carry with us all day and check on average 110 times each day aren’t exactly eating us, they are fundamentally changing society and industries (including health) in many new ways.

    4bn people buying smartphones every 2 years compared with 1.6bn PCs every 5 years

    Smartphone Industry
    Source: Gartner, Apple, Google, A16Z

    As the graph above illustrates, the smartphone industry is far outgrowing the PC industry and will continue to do so unless a new paradigm shift in PC innovation presents itself (hint: it won’t).  Smartphone adoption will continue to outstrip its older and more archaic PC cousin indefinitely meaning we can safely assume that the smartphone will be more important to the digital health era than the PC.

    While the comment above is stating nothing new, the impact of the smartphone industry is only beginning to be realized. When Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his dorm room in 2004, people consumed online content mainly from a PC since the smartphone and both iOS and Android operating systems were yet to be introduced. Mobile browsing from a cell phone at the time was a relatively poor experience and expensive mobile data prices were a concern to those tempted to use wap sites. When Apple shook up the mobile phone industry in 2007 with the launch of the first iPhone, consumer habits began changing fast and Facebook began its pivot from a PC platform to a mobile one. Why? Because now it generates more of its ad revenue from mobile than desktop.

    Likewise BuzzFeed, a preeminent media company for the social age is turning into a ‘mobile first’ platform for its users. BuzzFeed’s founder and CEO, Jonah Peretti, constantly touts his company’s mobile stats and a late 2014 trends report by the company said, “mobile has taken the lead as the primary platform for social and sharing, and usage continues to rise.” According to the report, sixty percent of BuzzFeed’s traffic comes from a mobile device.

    More powerful CPUs, larger screens, more intuitive apps and a lower cost base are all playing a part in driving smartphone adoption, especially from the younger generation.

    mHealth has lost its meaning 

    The term mHealth has been around for sometime and is a product of the pre-smartphone era since there are mHealth related books written prior to the iPhone’s 2007 launch. It’s perhaps a reflection of the ever-advancing digital landscape that mHealth as a term is increasingly losing its meaning. Now Facebook and BuzzFeed are mobile first platforms should they define themselves as a ‘mobile social network’ and ‘mobile media publication for the social age’? Of course not, the transition from PC to mobile is merely a reflection of a changing market. Regardless of the platform their goals are still the same: Facebook is to connect the world and BuzzFeed is to inspire and entertain.

    The same principle applies to mHealth. Because someone happens to take their blood pressure using a device that connects to my smartphone does that mean they’re participating in mobile health? I don’t think so. And let’s not mention the term ‘telemedicine’ which is up there with ‘web surfing’. It may have sounded innovative in the late 90s but now it’s embarrassingly cringeworthy.

    Now, you could argue that the term ‘digital health’ is irrelevant too since it’s all just ‘health’, but the digital health revolution will be so transformative that it needs to be defined and differentiated from general health. It’s why after the invention of the automobile it wasn’t named the mechanical horse or the Industrial Revolution wasn’t just labeled as a new kind of manufacturing. Their impact on the world were so substantial that they needed to be clearly defined as such.

    The general trend is moving toward using the term digital health too. The charts below show mentions of the term ‘digital health’ alongside ‘mHealth’ and, excluding Twitter, every platform including news publications favor digital health as the term.

    Figure 1. 

    digital-health-vs-mhealth - total
    Mentions of Digital Health compared with mHealth in social media and news media. Source: Sysomos

    Figure 2.  

    digital-health-vs-mhealth - breakdown
    Mentions of Digital Health compared with mHealth with breakdown of mentions in social media and news media. Source: Sysomos

    Smartphones are the conduit for the Digital Health Stack 

    In technical terms, a technology stack comprises multiple layers of technologies to produce a bespoke solution. In digital health terms we could say that the smartphone is the conduit for the Digital Health Stack. A health device or wearable that connects to a smartphone will utilize its CPU power to perform an analysis of the patient, the accompanying app will gather the data produced and organize and archive it, then a cloud based software-as-a-service utility such as IBM Watson Cloud will be used to make sense of the data along with recommendations with what the patient should do next.

    Each section (device, smartphone, app, data and cloud) of the journey is useless without the other, but the smartphone plays a prominent role in facilitating each of the other part’s role in the process. Wearable technology holds promise to remove the smartphone from the equation completely but that future is not here yet and for now the increasingly powerful and functional smartphone will play the prominent role within the digital health stack.

    In short, the smartphone is more than ever the star player in digital health as new third-party devices are turning it into a life saving machine and new apps are giving it personalized health intelligence on an unprecedented scale. Just don’t call it mHealth.

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    13 Smartclothes Brands Taking Health & Fitness To The Next Level

    1. Hexoskin

    Hexoskin vest
    Image via Hexoskin

    Canada based Hexoskin is a leading provider of biometric feedback vests for both adults and children. The Hexoskin vest is used by both professional sports teams and fitness enthusiasts and it’s easy to understand why. The Bluetooth vest tracks a plethora of vital signs including heart rate, heart rate variability, breathing, VO2 max, stress, sleep and activity level.

    2. AIQ Bioman

    AIQ Bioman
    Bioman shirt via AIQ

    AIQ is a Taiwanese smart clothing company that has developed the Bioman shirt which tracks heart rate, respiration rate and skin temperature, and has the potential to be further customized to measure skin moisture and electrophysiological signals such as electrocardiogram (EKG), electroencephalography (EEG), or electromyography (EMG). The shirt is made from a conductive fabric sewn together from stainless steel yarns and with integrated Bluetooth connectivity sends the captured data to a smartphone for analysis.

    3. Footfalls & Heartbeats

    Footfalls & Heartbeats
    Free Divers’ Revival Vest. Via.

    Footfalls & Heartbeats has developed a proprietary process for manufacturing smart fabrics that act as sensors. The New Zealand based company is in the process of developing partnerships to manufacture smartclothes in the fields of health, sports, rehabilitation, aged care, aerospace and automobile.

    4. SmartLife

    Smartlife vest
    The SmartLife vest via SmartLife

    UK based SmartLife is a patented sensor design that can be integrated into any close-fitting clothes and enables rapid body data analysis by providing biofeedback on heart rate, respiratory rate and calories burned.

    5. Mbody shorts

    Mbody shorts. Via.

    The Mbody shorts have been designed specifically with triathletes in mind and allow the wearer to track heart rate, cadence, speed and distance thanks to sensors woven in the shorts and an accompanying device that attaches to them. The Mbody is not a cheap piece of kit and retails at €770.00 ($835) so professionals or dedicated enthusiasts need only apply.

    6. Diabetes Smartsox

    Smartsox via the University of Arizona

    Researchers at the University of Arizona have developed a pair of smart socks designed specifically for people with diabetes who often lose the sensation of pain and become unaware of developing foot ulcers. The Smartsox use fiber optics and sensors to monitor temperature, pressure and joint angles in the feet, and can alert the wearer or caregivers of any developing problems.

    7. OMSignal

    The OMSignal shirt. Via

    The OMSignal smart shirt has been designed with people who want to take their fitness to the next level in mind. The shirt has conductive fibers woven through it that transmit biometric signals to a small device attached. The biometric data points produced include steps, heart rate, breathing rate, calorie counter and activity. Unlike the similar Hexoskin shirt it doesn’t track heart rate variability, a metric associated with fatigue.

    8. Exmobaby

    Exmobaby via Exmovere

    The Exmobaby is a smart garment designed especially for newborns and infants, and includes a range of sensors and specialized fabric which monitor a child’s vital signs such as ECG (electrocardiogram), temperature and movement while wirelessly sending the data to a bay station.

    9. Ralph Lauren Tech Polo Shirt

    Ralph Lauren Polo Tech
    Polo Tech shirt. Via Ralph Lauren

    In August 2014, Ralph Lauren announced the Polo Tech shirt, a joint collaboration with OMSignal, which is scheduled to be launched sometime this year. The Polo Tech shirt includes an accelerometer, gyroscope, and heartbeat monitor, and monitors stress levels, calories burned, respiration, heartbeat, and energy output.

    10. Turn Signal Gloves

    Zackees Glove
    Turn Signal Gloves via Zackees

    Smart clothing aren’t necessarily garments that provide biometric data and can be used in a variety of other ways too. One example bucking the trend is Zackees’ Turn Signal Glove designed for cyclists’ safety in mind. Developed by a Google engineer, the glove allows wearers to indicate their intended direction to other vehicles on the road. Simply extend the arm to the intended direction and the light on the glove will begin to flash which could potentially save lives.

    11. The Smoozi D-Shirt

    Smoozi D-Shirt
    Smoozi D-shirt via Cityzen Sciences. Image via Bustle

    France based Cityzen Sciences has developed the Smoozi D-shirt, a biometric feedback shirt embedded with micro-sensors that track the wearer’s temperature, heart rate, speed, location, and acceleration. The company is also developing smart shorts for cyclists and is looking to develop similar products for other sports such as basketball and rugby according to Bustle.

    12. Athos

    Athos Smart Clothes
    The Athos smart shorts. Via Athos

    Developed out of the University of Waterloo, Athos makes connected wearable workout clothing and is soon-to-be launching a smart shirt and a pair of smart shorts that collectively have 30 inbuilt sensors that track muscle exertion from the chest, shoulders, arms, back, quads, hamstrings and glutes, plus heart rate and breathing.

    13. Victoria’s Secret Smart Bra

    Victorias secret smart bra
    Victoria’s Secret Incredible Bra. Via

    Victoria’s Secret has developed the Incredible sports bra for females who enjoy working out or playing sports which includes a heart rate monitor sensor to track exertion.

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    Can Digital Health Beat Human Foible?

    In 2008, Ralph Keeney from Duke University published a paper called Personal decisions are the leading cause of death. It proposed that most premature deaths in the USA are caused by the decisions people make every day. According to Keeney, heart disease and cancer aren’t America’s biggest killers; it’s the decisions people make – to smoke, to eat crap, to sit on the couch – that lead to these diseases and in turn cause premature death.

    In a world where lifestyle is the leading cause of death and disability, the promise of digital health is alluring. In an ideal digital health system, genomics provides citizens with their individual risk profiles for disease, allowing them to reduce this risk by making corrective lifestyle changes. Unprecedented in healthcare, digital health has the opportunity to provide genuine preventative and personalised healthcare for the first time.

    But this is not yet reality as numerous obstacles impede digital health’s rise. We’re acutely aware of many of these challenges, but there is one that is seldom acknowledged – human foible.

    Genomic risk: a tickle or a nudge?

    As I alluded to above, an assumption of digital health is that if people are given information they’ll change their behaviour. If you have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, so the assumption goes, you’ll reduce this risk by increasing your level of physical activity, eating a healthy diet and dropping a bit of weight.

    But a decade of research examining the influence of genetic risk communication on behaviour change suggests genomics is no panacea. A comprehensive review concluded that “genetic information has little impact on behaviour” change. The review examined the effect of genetic information on cancer screening, smoking cessation, diet and exercise behaviour change. Although cancer screening rates did improve, the communication of an elevated risk of a number of diseases had little impact on smoking cessation, diet or physical activity.

    A study conducted shortly thereafter showed similar results. Over 2000 people who received a Navigenics genome wide test were followed up 6 months later to assess how their test results had changed their behaviour. Although intention (not actual behaviour) to get certain screening tests increased among individuals with an elevated disease risk, there were no discernible influence on important lifestyle changes such as diet and physical activity.

    When discussing the outcome of this study in his wonderful book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine¸ Eric Topol stated that “changing behaviour to improve lifestyle – to lose weight, exercise more and eat healthy foods – is one of the greatest challenges in health care, and there have not been any major success strategies to date”.

    Indeed, our inability to change our behaviour for the better has puzzled great minds as far back as Aristotle. And the scientific literature, too, is strewn with research showing information, in many circumstances, has little impact on behaviour change. Public health campaigns, for example, though effective for encouraging new behaviours, have limited influence on changing behaviours that are repeated regularly – i.e., important lifestyle factors like eating, smoking and exercise.

    Considering our lifestyle has a huge influence on our health and risk of developing a chronic disease, the difficulty in changing these behaviours should worry digital health enthusiasts. Particularly as it seems personal genomics, on its own at least, won’t save the day.

    Are wearables the answer?

    activity tracker girl

    But digital health has other tricks up its sleeve. The solution, or part of it, may lie in the many apps, wearables and internet-enabled devices that quantify our steps, nutrition, weight and sleep.

    Tracking behaviour is a core element of most proven behaviour change techniques. On top of that, many of these tools, if used correctly, help to change behaviour. For example, in some studies:

    • Pedometers have been shown to significantly increase physical activity (activity trackers are really just glorified pedometers);
    • regular monitoring of weight has been associated with greater weight loss maintenance after 2 years (think Withings’ or Fitbit’s wireless bathroom scales); and
    • digital monitoring of food intake has been shown to be equivalent to paper-and-pencil methods for its effectiveness in promoting weight loss (i.e. MyFitnessPal).

    But, we run into problems here too.

    As a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association points out, tracking behaviour is not enough to change behaviour. If it was, health professionals could hand their clients a fitness tracker and a wireless scale and walk away. Tracking behaviour is insufficient because it neglects one of the most powerful drivers of human behaviour: our habits.

    The problem with bad habits is that they are masters at sabotaging our goals. If, for example, you resolve to eat healthy but also have a well-established hamburger habit, it’s very likely the habit will overpower your clean eating goal most of the time. The power of habits over our best intentions has been demonstrated many times in areas such as exercise and nutrition so it’s no wonder activity trackers aren’t helping us change our lifestyles.

    The Old + The New

    As I’ve written previously, digital health has not yet developed the tools to quantify, predict and change our bad habits. Until it does, we can’t rely on technology alone. Health professionals with a nuanced understanding of human behaviour are still required.

    An excellent example of this combination is Omada Health. Omada offers online lifestyle coaching aimed at preventing type 2 diabetes through exercise, good nutrition and weight loss. Omada has essentially digitised a landmark lifestyle intervention called the Diabetes Prevention Program and added smart technology (fitness tracker and wireless scales), online health coaching, and a private social network for its clients. The program was assessed against the original face-to-face Diabetes Prevention Program and results show Omada’s program is more than twice as effective as the original. And, staggeringly, it’s almost ten times more effective than standard health and wellness programs. It’s no wonder Omada was ranked in the top 50 most innovative companies for 2015.

    As Omada’s success points out, tracking behaviour is insufficient to change it. But when you combine wearables and internet-enabled devices with expert advice from health professionals then behaviour change is improved above and beyond traditional approaches.

    A diabolical problem

    Motivating sustained behaviour change is hard work, even for the most talented health professionals. Yet regular criticisms of activity trackers and health apps continue. That we expect so much from activity trackers points to a lack of basic knowledge about behaviour change. We need to move beyond simplistic rational thinking and integrate a comprehensive perspective of human behaviour in order to get the most out of the apps, wearables and devices that comprise the internet of healthy things.

    This includes, but is no limited to, a better understanding of how habits work; the thinking patterns that derail us when trying to make lifestyle changes; building proactive coping methods that are superior to self-medication with drink, smoke or food; and teaching people the required skillset (e.g. buying, preparing, and cooking food) so they can eat a nutritious diet. As companies like Omada Health have shown, the combination of traditional health coaching with digital health technology can work wonders and we need more of these businesses… And that’s why I created Smart Habits.

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    7 Ways Smartphones Are Saving Lives

    Peek smartphone eye examination

    The smartphone industry now dwarfs the PC industry with 2bn smartphones purchased every year and in a market that is not yet saturated it spells plenty of room for growth.  With newer and more powerful smartphones coming on to the market companies are developing new and exciting ways of utlizings smartphones to provide care, assistance and ultimately save lives.

    1. HIV and syphilis test

    HIV and syphilis iphone test
    New York’s Columbia University’s diagnostic dongle. Image via Bloomberg

    Developed by New York’s Columbia University, this “diagnostic dongle” attaches to a smartphone through the audio jack and correctly identifies HIV and syphilis infections 92 percent to 100 percent of the time according to a report in Science Translational Medicine. The test was used to identify diseases in pregnant women that can be passed on to their children. An author for the report told Bloomberg “If you diagnose and treat them on the spot, you can save the life of a newborn.” Lab testing equipment of this kind can cost from $10,000 to $,20,000. This one costs $34.

    2. The eye exam

    Peek smartphone eye examination
    Peek mobile eye exam. Image via BBC

    Peek is a smartphone-based portable eye exam kit that performs several eye tests such as visual field, acuity (clearness of vision), color vision, contrast sensitivity, lens imaging for cataracts, retinal imaging and image grading. With 80 percent of blindness avoidable, the U.K based Peek say they’re creating “mobile based versions of everything you need for a comprehensive eye exam.”

    2. The electrocardiogram

    AliveCor electrocardiogram

    AliveCor, is an ECG device that clips onto the back of a smartphone and provides real time data when a user places their thumbs over its sensors. AliveCor was used ‘in the field’ by cardiologist and well-known digital health evangelist Eric Topol not once but twice in two years to diagnose a patient suffering heart distress on a commercial flight. Topol even received an email from a patient whom he had prescribed the device to saying, “I’m in atrial fibrillation, now what do I do?”

    4. The skin cancer detecting app

    cancer detecting app
    University of Houston cancer detecting app. Via Engadget

    Researchers at the University of Houston have created a smartphone app that can detect melanoma with 85 percent accuracy which, according to Engadget, is just as efficient as visiting a dermatologist and better at diagnosis than the average primary care physician. While the app supports the discovery of cancerous moles, it requires a $500 magnifying glass which attaches to the smartphone which means it’s an expensive piece of kit for now but, like most technologies, will become more affordable to the average consumer in time.

    5. The disease detecting DNA lab

    The Biomeme smartphone DNA testing kit. Via TechCrunch

    Biomeme wants to turn your iPhone in to a mobile DNA replicating machine that will change how diseases are tracked and treated. With the Biomeme device the iPhone becomes a real-time qPCR thermocycler, which are used in labs to amplify segments of DNA and so far the lead indication is detecting sexually transmitted diseases. The device and kit cost around $1,000 and claims to be just as accurate as the much more expensive laboratory model.

    6. The glucometer

    iphone glucometer
    The LifeScan Verio Sync.

    The LifeScan Verio Sync from OneTouch is the first glucose meter in the US to use bluetooth to automatically and wirelessly transmit glucose readings to a smartphone (iOS only for now). The slick looking design is very Apple-inspired and allows the user to see trends in their data, add notes and the app can be used with or without the meter.

    7. The dermatoscope

    The mobile dermatoscope by Handyscope.

    Handyscope turns a smartphone into a mobile dermatoscope by attaching an optical device alongside an accompanying app. The phone is placed flush against the person’s skin, which is illuminated by polarized light from the built-in LEDs. The encrypted data is recorded with saved images where comments can be added manually.

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    Michael Kors Plans To Get Into Wearable Tech

    Wearable technology is providing new products for fashion and fitness brands to sell to an increasingly demanding tech-savvy consumer. Smart jewelry wearables are making their way into stores – and receiving investment – with the launch of numerous rings, bracelets and necklaces which are embedded with GPS and sensor technology and designed to enhance the user experience.

    In August 2014 Ralph Lauren announced the Polo Tech Shirt, a sensor-woven fibre t-shirt which analyzes the wearer’s biometric data such as movement, heart rate, stress and intensity. In December last year, when asked if TAG Heurer planned to launch an Apple Watch competitor, CEO Jean-Claude Biver said, “We are working on it.”

    Another luxury fashion brand intending on entering the wearable tech fray is Michael Kors, with Chief Executive, John Idol, recently saying, “We will be in wearables. So I will tell you that that is coming from Michael Kors. And we have a whole strategy around it” according to Bloomberg.

    Michael Kors Chief Executive, John Idol. Source: Wikimedia

    Kors is being a more risk-averse approach according to Idol however. “We’re not interested in being the first one to rush to the race,” he said. “What we want to make sure is that we have an ecosystem that our customer really believes in and think[s] they’re viable additions to not only their fashion wardrobe, but also to how they live their life.”

    Another example of a luxury brand moving into the wearable tech space.

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    Interview: Gil Blander of InsideTracker

    Gil Blander

    What is InnerAge?

    Gil Blander: InnerAge is a groundbreaking service that helps people take steps to look and feel younger while prolonging life. Unlike anything that has gone before, InnerAge helps people understand, manage and optimize the unique factors within their own body that are impacting the way they age. It uses specific biomarkers to help people optimize longevity and manage and reduce the impact of age related medical conditions.

    Developed over the past two years by some of the world’s leading authorities on aging, nutrition and exercise physiology, InnerAge analyzes the blood biomarkers most scientifically proven to impact longevity to assess a person’s biological/physiological age versus their chronological age. Its sophisticated algorithm then goes on to suggest five personalized “Focus Foods” with the largest potential to optimize these biomarkers, thereby lowering a person’s InnerAge and helping them slow the effects of aging from the inside out.

    InnerAge is not an anti-aging solution offering quick fixes or cosmetic shortcuts but instead helps people make sense of the most reliable science on aging to make lasting changes that can be tracked over time. Following a simple blood test, the InnerAge intuitive dashboard provides a wealth of information on the results as well as nutrition advice to improve outcomes.

    By following its recommendations, people can optimize their InnerAge to be up to 15 years younger than their actual age and also catch early warning signs that could negatively impact their longevity.

    How did the idea for InnerAge come about?

    GB: My scientific journey started at the age of 12, when one of my close relatives passed away, triggering my thirst and quest for knowledge of how our body ages. While I knew I couldn’t stop the clock, I wanted to at least slow it down and give people the knowledge required to delay the aging process and improve their health and quality of life as a result. I decided to commit my life to science, and aging research in particular. I graduated from the Weizmann Institute of Science with a PhD in the biology of aging, and later became a postdoctoral scholar at MIT in Lenny Guarente’s Laboratory, for the Science of Aging. I wanted to do more than study methods on how to slow the aging process; I wanted to decisively apply scientific knowledge and help everyone live life to its full potential. In 2009, InsideTracker was born. Our talented team of scientists decided to develop a new, one-of-a-kind science-based platform that could make the future of personalized health analytics happen now. Objective, rich, scientific data at the service of the individual to support truly tailored decision making.

    After studying the science of aging for the last 20 years, I concluded that people can not only live longer but also have a higher quality of life using simple, natural and tangible interventions. InnerAge is much more than a cold calculation: it’s the universal score that has meaning to everyone looking to achieve his or her individualized health and fitness goals. If you think about it, we are told by society and healthcare professionals to act “our age”. Instead, we really should be defying it.

    Professional football player Tom Brady is widely recognized now for his accomplishments on the field. However, it may be what he is doing off the field with his nutrition and lifestyle that may allow him play well into his 40s. Similarly, every day we make decisions that impact our health and those choices determine if we feel like an old man waking up because we didn’t sleep like a baby the night before or whether or not we feel fresh, bright-eyed, and bushy tailed.

    InsideTracker is not providing just an objective score of where you stand from the inside with InnerAge: it’s the GPS provides you with an individualized roadmap to your optimal wellness. Thus, InnerAge is much more than a simple number: it’s an intricate wellness program that anyone can follow and benefit from

    What are the key markers that determine our inner age?

    GB: Our team of scientists, researchers, and statisticians, spent 18 months investigating biomarkers to identify those connected to aging that can be influenced by nutrition and lifestyle.

    InnerAge Biomarker Dashboard
    InnerAge Biomarker Results via InsideTracker

    The five InnerAge™ biomarkers include:

    • Glucose
    • Vitamin D
    • Testosterone*
    • hsCRP (an inflammation indicator)
    • ALT (a liver damage indicator)

    I’ve highlighted a few of these findings below.

    Why Glucose?
    Glucose was chosen based on a number of studies. One of them looked at more than 5,000 people and showed lower glucose levels correlated with longer lifespan.

    Why Vitamin D?
    Vitamin D was chosen based on a study of data from 10 different populations, where higher Vitamin D levels were associated with lower risk of all-cause mortality. As Vitamin D levels increased, so did longevity.

    Why Testosterone?
    Testosterone was chosen based on a study of men dating back to 1992, where blood samples were taken over extended periods of time. The data showed clear decreases in testosterone with age.

    Why hsCRP?
    hsCRP, which is a marker of inflammation, was chosen based on a study of routine health exams of over 90,000 people. The findings indicate that lower CRP levels are associated with higher longevity.

    Why ALT?
    ALT, which is a marker of liver damage, was chosen based on a review of an eleven-year study collecting biochemical data. Researchers found that lower ALT levels at the beginning of the study led to decreased relative risk of death by the end of the study.

    What is the general trend for results? Are people generally older biologically than they actually are?

    • 70% of InnerAge users are older than their chronological age
    • The average difference is 2.3 years

    What are the key methods for people to improve (or decrease) their inner age?

    Regardless of age, everyone has the potential to optimize their longevity, by taking simple steps to manage the biomarkers that have the greatest impact on aging. Glucose, found to have the strongest correlation to longevity, should be given special consideration.

    InnerAge Focus Foods
    InnerAge Focus Foods via InsideTracker

    Focus Foods are a new way of looking at what we eat. Instead of eating foods based on general health benefits, Focus Foods are handpicked for you to improve your InnerAge. They represent the most effective way to immediately raise your quality of life and improve longevity.

    InsideTracker uses your biomarker results to choose specific foods that will help you improve your InnerAge. We take into account each biomarker related to aging to identify the five most impactful foods for you. While Focus Foods aren’t the only foods you should eat, eating more of them as part of a balanced diet will have you well on your way to a more optimal InnerAge. Focus Foods are not based on fads or trends; they are based on high-quality research studies and an extensive database of global food options. Nothing influences our recommendations other than pure science and intelligent analytics. In selecting your Focus Foods, InsideTracker scientists carefully evaluate and weigh every food item in the InsideTracker database to ensure that the nutritional impact of your Focus Foods will be to improve your InnerAge.

    In summary, Focus Foods are five potent food options that deliver the most bang for your buck nutrition-wise. Scientifically chosen based on your unique biomarkers, Focus Foods added into your daily diet serve as an effective way to lower your InnerAge. Think of Focus Foods as InsideTracker’s way of keeping you focused on the right foods for you.

    Any plans to tie in an individual’s genetic make up with their biomarker data?

    We may look at this in the future but don’t believe the time is right to tie to genetic information right now or include it into the InnerAge platform. There are a few reasons for this:

    • Very little scientific support. There is great variability in testing and analysis. As the first full genome was sequenced in year 2000, there are a limited number of peer-reviewed scientific publications about the relationship between SNPs and specific conditions. There are few validated genetic biomarkers (SNP), but there is great potential with an increasing number of scientific publications on genetic markers. Most are related to disease state.
    • Actionability Genetic testing: Not actionable; if you have a 50% higher risk of developing dementia in the next 50 years, you may not be able to do anything to prevent it.
    • Viewing your progress blood biomarkers change over time, responding to food, stress, and other factors, so you can view your progress. For example, if in the baseline blood test you had low vitamin B12 and then started taking a Vitamin B12 supplement, you can evaluate the supplement effect over time via follow-up blood tests. Genetic testing is static, typically with one test in a lifetime. Your genome is stable, that is, it does not change, and it does not respond to your daily status, but rather influences it. So you cannot view progress using this technology.

    What’s next for InsideTracker? Anything you can share?

    The InsideTracker science team has tripled in size over the past few weeks, with talent in nutrition, exercise physiology, women’s health, data science, and analytics. Extreme personalization of lifestyle recommendations based on reliable and objective data inputs is where the company is going to continue to innovate. Expect a women’s health and fitness product, more refined inputs for the InnerAge algorithm, and other exciting developments. The company is also getting ready for the Apple Watch, and developing its third generation recommendation engine.

    Thank you, Gil. 

  • , ,

    8 Examples Of How Google Is Moving Into Digital Health

    Larry Sergey

    In July 2014, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin sat down for a rare interview with Vinod Khosla where they discussed, among other things, Google’s involvement in health. When Khosla asked if Google would ever become a healthcare company, both founders were somewhat critical of the current healthcare system’s regulatory hurdles and because of this didn’t envisage becoming a big player in the space. The full interview is below.

    Perhaps this was downplayed somewhat since Google is investing both money and resources in digital health in a number of ways and even Medtronic believes Google will be its main competitor in eight years’ time.

    Here are 8 examples of how Google is moving into Digital Health

    1. Google will store your genome in the cloud for $25 a yearGoogle Genomics


    Google has been in the online storage business for sometime now but never like this. Google wants to help university laboratories and hospitals store their clients’ genomes in the cloud which they are calling Google Genomics. For $25 a year, Google will keep a copy of any genome in the cloud to allow researchers to access millions of genomes and run batch analyses efficiently.

    Via MIT Technology Review

    2. Google is developing a cancer and heart attack-detecting pill

    Google nanoparticle pill


    Google is working on a nanoparticle pill that could identify cancers, heart attacks and other diseases before they become a problem. Magnetic nanoparticles, less than one-thousandth the width of a red blood cell, will circulate through the blood to detect and report signs of cancer or an imminent heart attack.

    Andrew Conrad, head of the Life Sciences team at the Google X research lab said at a Wall Street Journal event in October last year,“Every test you ever go to the doctor for will be done through this system. This is our dream.”

    Via Wall Street Journal

    3. Google is making fake skin to test its nanoparticles

    In order to detect the light coming from the nanoparticle pills, Google had to understand exactly how light passes through skin so they started making synthetic skin. The synthetic skin had to be made the same as real skin with the same autofluorescence and biochemical components.

    Via The Atlantic

    4. Google is trying to unlock the secrets of agingGoogle Calico


    In 2013, Google founded Calico (California Life Company) which is focussed on aging and age-related diseases.  Google co-founder, Larry Page, described Calico as a company focussed on “health, wellbeing and longevity” and in Sept last year Calico announced a $1.5bn partnership with pharmaceutical company, AbbVie to accelerate the discovery, development and commercialization of age-related conditions such as neurodegeneration and cancer.

    Via FT

    5. Google Glass is being used in numerous ways in healthcareGoogle Glass Surgeon


    Despite all the criticism of late and Google’s decision to cancel the public Explorer program, there are still high hopes for how hospitals can use Google Glass in the operating room. A number of hospitals around the world are experimenting with Glass to find innovative ways of adapting the head-mounted computer in a healthcare environment.

    Via Bionicly

    6. Google is developing a smart contact lens for people with diabetesGoogle Contact Lens


    Partnering with global pharmaceutical company, Novartis, Google is developing a smart contact lens to help patients manage diabetes. The lens contains a microchip and a hair-thin electronic circuit that measures blood sugar levels directly from the tear fluid on the surface of the eyeball and transmits the data to a mobile device.

    Via Forbes

    7. Google is attempting to simulate the human brainGoogle Neural Network


    Google acquired deep learning start-up, DeepMind, in January 2014 for a reported $400m and has since announced the launch of a computer that mimics the short-term memory of the human brain. The result is a computer that learns as it stores memories and can later retrieve them to perform logical tasks beyond those it has been trained to do. This neural network is based around the idea of creating a computer that simulates what happens in the human brain but implementing tweaks and changes to make it even more efficient.

    Via Forbes

    8. Google wants to make medical records open for sharing

    Larry Page TED

    In an onstage interview with Charlie Rose at TED2014 conference in Vancouver, Google co-founder, Larry Page said, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone’s medical records were available anonymously to research doctors? We’d save 100,000 lives this year. We’re not really thinking about the tremendous good which can come from people sharing information with the right people in the right ways.”

    Via TED
  • ,

    The Rise Of Digital Healthcare (Video)

    Steven Krein

    Co-founder & CEO of StartUp Health, Steven Krein, was on Fox Business this week discussing the rise of digital health and how new innovations are transforming the healthcare industry. Digital health will continue to receive this kind of publicity as the momentum grows and Krein delivers some great sound bites.

    “The most activity actually is around entrepreneurs re-imagining every aspect of healthcare and really thinking about everything from payer solutions, provider needs and, quite frankly, patient needs so healthcare consumerism is driving a whole new generation of entrepreneurs across the world to really re-imagine healthcare.

    “We’re seeing healthcare consumers and healthcare reform play a role. The idea that we’re now having a global conversation and that solutions are not just in Silicon Valley and New York; they’re in Tel Aviv, Dubai and in Austin, Texas. They’re really coming out from everywhere and it’s actually who is coming out as the entrepreneurs; doctors, clinicians and people who never before had access to the type of resources Startup Health has been able to bring to market.”

    Watch the video in full below.

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  • ,

    Smart Jewelry Market Heating Up As Investment Pours In

    Ringly Ring

    Last week venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, announced that they had led a $5.1m series A investment round in ‘smart jewelry’ start up, Ringly, along with Highline Ventures, PCH, First Round Capital, and other early investors.

    Ringly is one of the new set of start ups that are merging jewelry with technology with the intention to make wearables both fashionable and invisible (the ‘wearable’ part being fashionable and the ‘technology’ part being invisible) since a common complaint about wearables is that they are, actually, unwearable to the fashion-conscious. Looking at you, Google Glass.

    Ringly makes smart jewelry for women and has launched with a high-tech gold ring made of semi-precious stones that buzzes and lights up when the wearer receives a phone call or text. Ringly’s tech offering of Bluetooth notifications from the wearer’s smartphone is similar to other smart jewelry startups such as Cuff, Kovert Designs and MEMI, and also more established fashion brands such as Rebecca Minkoff’s partnership with Case-Mate.

    In other words, the smart jewelry market is far from saturation and if the designs can bring style (as in, people want to wear them regardless of whether they’re ‘smart’ or not) as well as function then the potential market size is huge. It’s still early days for smart jewelry but backing from Andreessen Horowitz – which backed Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest in their early days – and the move by luxury brands such as TAG Heuer and Ralph Lauren to make their traditional products ‘smart’ illustrates that this is where the jewelry and wider fashion industries are headed. Expect a lot more investment announcements in smart jewelry in 2015.

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