News roundup: Walgreens Boots-Microsoft, TytoCare, CVS-Aetna moves along, Care Innovations exits Louisville

Walgreens Boots finally does something. Their teaming with Microsoft to migrate their IT infrastructure to the Azure platform will eventually lead to “more personalized care experiences from preventative self-care to chronic disease management. WBA will leverage the cloud for wellness and lifestyle management programs.” It was important enough to both companies to have a photo op with twin CEOs: Walgreens Boots’ Stefano Pessina and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella. The ‘consumerization of healthcare’ and ‘transforming healthcare delivery’ phrases liberally sprinkled throughout the article and the press release are today’s prevalent clichés, as ‘synergy’ was the buzzword of say, 1999. Healthcare IT News, CNBC  In the long run, this IT overhaul may actually mean more to their customers than, say, the Amazon-JP Morgan-Berkshire Hathaway hydra.

A vote of confidence in diagnostic telehealth pioneered by young Israeli company TytoCare. They added $9 million to their Series C from investors including Sanford Health, Itochu and Shenzhen Capital Group (and its affiliates). This adds to last year’s round led by Ping An Global Voyager Fund for a total Series C of $33.5 million. TechCrunch. TytoCare also was named one of Wired’s Best of CES (CBS TV video, at 1:35) and earlier this month announced the integration of Health Navigator’s symptom checker into their system.

The judge says ‘No Delay For You’! In the CVS-Aetna hearing, Federal Judge Richard Leon refused to give the Department of Justice any more time to submit comments in the CVS Health and Aetna merger case. The deadline remains 15 February despite the government shutdown furloughing much of the antitrust division. Judge Leon is reviewing the decree under the Tunney Act requirement that the merger meet the public interest. Healthcare Finance

Care Innovations ankles Louisville. A modest and mainly paywalled item in Louisville Business First may point to something larger at Care Innovations. After two years of operation and a much-touted expansion to one of Louisville’s better addresses, the telehealth/RPM company has quietly vacated its 7,200 square foot space at Brown & Williamson Tower and pulled its operations from the city. Reporters from the publication were unable to obtain a statement from Care Innovations, which is now in Folsom, California, closer to majority owner Intel. At the time of their Louisville expansion in April 2017 (still on their website), Care Innovations received a $500,000 KBI tax incentive to create 24 high-paying jobs, which now are departed. It is ironic as Louisville is a health hub dominated by insurer Humana but has successfully campaigned for health tech. Last July [TTA 17 July], CI sold its Validation Institute and their VA win disappeared from their website. Of late, there has been no news from the one-time Intel-GE partnership.

News roundup: Walmart and Microsoft AI, are derm apps endangering public with 88% skin cancer diagnosis?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Lasso.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Walmart and Microsoft partner to change the retail experience via AI. The five-year agreement will switch over applications to the cloud and will affect shipping and supply chain. It’s projected in Healthcare Dive that the impact will be in healthcare as well. Microsoft announced last month that it is forming a unit to advance AI and cloud-based healthcare tools. The landscape is under extreme pressure in retail and healthcare delivery, and Walmart needs to ready for future moves which will certainly happen. Walmart is rumored to be interested in acquiring Humana and is currently working with Emory Healthcare in Atlanta. Then there is CVS-Aetna, Cigna-Express Scripts, Google, and (looming above all) Amazon. (Though you can tuck all the years of Amazon’s profits into one year of Walmart’s.)

The ITV News headline grabs attention — but are dermatology apps really endangering the public when teledermatology can help diagnose 88 percent of people with skin cancer and 97 percent of those with benign lesions? A University of Birmingham-led research team did a metastudy of the literature and found three failings: “a lack of rigorous published trials to show they work and are safe, a lack of input during the app development from specialists to identify which lesions are suspicious and flaws in how the technology analyses photos” particularly for scaly or non-pigmented melanomas. But did access to these apps encourage early diagnosis which can lead to up to 100 percent five-year survival? Of course review is required as recommended by the study, but this last factor was not really examined at the British Association of Dermatologists’ annual meeting in Edinburgh. University of Birmingham release with study abstract

Google’s ‘Medical Brain’ tests clinical speech recognition, patient outcome prediction, death risk

Google’s AI division is eager to break into healthcare, and with ‘Medical Brain’ they might be successful. First is harnessing the voice recognition used in their Home, Assistant, and Translate products. Last year they started to test a digital scribe with Stanford Medicine to help doctors automatically fill out EHRs from patient visits, which will conclude in August. Next up, and staffing up, is a “next gen clinical visit experience” which uses audio and touch technologies to improve the accuracy and availability of care.

The third is research Google published last month on using neural networks to predict how long people may stay in hospitals, their odds of re-admission and chances they will soon die. The neural net gathers up the previously ungatherable–old charts, PDF–and transforms it into useful information. They are currently working with the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Chicago with 46 billion pieces of anonymous patient data. 

A successful test of the approach involved a woman with late-stage breast cancer. Based on her vital signs–for instance, her lungs were filling with fluid–the hospital’s own analytics indicated that there was a 9.3 percent chance she would die during her stay. Google used over 175,000 data points they saw about her and came up with a far higher risk: 19.9 percent. She died shortly after.

Using AI to crunch massive amounts of data is an approach that has been tried by IBM Watson in healthcare with limited success. Augmedix, Microsoft, and Amazon are also attempting AI-assisted systems for scribing and voice recognition in offices. CNBC, Bloomberg

Can unused “TV white spaces” close the rural and urban broadband–and telehealth–gap?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Radio-tower.jpg” thumb_width=”100″ /]The digital divide comes one step closer to closing. Microsoft’s release of its white paper proposing an alternative to the expensive build-out of the US broadband network deserved more attention than it received in July. The Rural Broadband Strategy combines TV white spaces spectrum (the unused UHV television band spectrum in the 600 MHz frequency range which can penetrate through walls, hilly topography, and other obstacles) with fixed wireless and satellite coverage to economically deliver coverage to un/under-served areas versus fiber cable (80 percent savings) and LTE fixed wireless (50 percent).

34 million Americans lack broadband connection to the internet. Some of these are voluntary opt-outs, but 23.4 million live in rural areas without access, with huge economic consequences estimated in the hundreds of billions. TV white spaces can also expand coverage in small cities and more densely populated areas, including usages such as within buildings. This effort also presses the FCC, which in turn has pressed for broadband for two decades, to ensure that at least three channels below 700 MHz are kept unlicensed in all markets in the US, with more TV white spaces for rural areas.

The first part, the Rural Airband Initiative, builds on Microsoft’s present 20 programs worldwide, and is planned to connect 2 million people in by July 4, 2022, with 12 projects across the US running in the next 12 months. Much of the connectivity is dedicated to nonprofit efforts like 4-H’s digital literacy program and ‘precision agriculture’ in New York State and Washington. Microsoft is also granting royalty-free access to 39 patents and sample source code related to white spaces spectrum use in rural areas.

A positive move for telehealth’s spread. Rural healthcare providers pay up to three times as much for broadband as their urban counterparts. Telemedicine increasingly connects for consults between hospitals in rural areas and city-based health systems for specialty coverage and to provide assistance in specialized medical procedures. Telemedicine and telehealth remote monitoring has difficulty spreading with poor internet coverage; this has already been a barrier to patients in rural ACOs who can be 1-2 hours from the doctor’s office and notably for the VA in providing rural veterans with home telehealth support. Paramedics increasingly rely on internet connections and dropped connections lead ambulances to go to hospitals at a greater distance. If the FCC cooperates and Microsoft’s partners can find a way to profitably execute, broadband can finally achieve that promise about closing the ‘digital divide’ made back in the Clinton Administration. A Rural Broadband Strategy: Connecting Rural America to New Opportunities  The Verge, mHealth Intelligence, Becker’s Hospital Review

Petya no pet as it spreads: is it ransomware or a vicious design for data destruction? (updated)

Breaking–The ‘more and worse’ experts predicted after WannaCry is here.  In two days, the Petya or PetyaWrap (or NotPetya) ransomware has spread from Ukraine to affect organizations in 64 countries with 2,000+ attacks involving 12,000+ machines. On the hit list are mostly Eastern European and trans-national companies: Maersk shipping, Merck, Nuance cloud services, WPP advertising, Mars and Mondelez foods, Rosneft (Russia’s largest oil producer), Chernobyl, unnamed Norwegian firms, Beiersdorf and Reckitt Benckiser in India, Cadbury and law firm DLA Piper in Australia. One local US healthcare provider affected in a near-total shutdown of their computer systems, and resorting to backups, is Heritage Valley Health System in western Pennsylvania. There are no reports to this hour that the NHS, major US, Asia-Pacific, or European health systems being affected. Update: Trading in FedEx shares were halted 29 June due to the Petya attack on its TNT Express international division. Update 30 June: The Princeton Community Hospital in rural West Virginia is running on paper records as Petya forced a complete replacement of its EHR and computer hardware. Fox Business

Like WannaCry, the ransomware exploited the EternalBlue backdoor; a report from ArsTechnica UK adds an exploit touchingly dubbed EternalRomance. But unlike WannaCry, according to ZDNet, both “Symantec and Bitdefender have confirmed that it’s a Petya ransomware strain dubbed GoldenEye, which doesn’t just encrypt files — it also encrypts hard drives, rendering entire computers useless.” ArsTechnica goes deeper into methodology. Petya uses a hacking tool called MimiKatz to extract passwords and then uses legitimate Microsoft utilities and components to spread it. (Ed. note: if you have time for only one technical article, read ArsTechnica’s as the latest and most detailed.)

The Microsoft patch–and Microsoft has just issued an update for Win10, which this Editor heartily recommends you download and install–while defending against WannaCry, still isn’t preventing the spread. It’s speedier than WannaCry, and that says a great deal. Its aim appears not to be ransom, but data destruction. Updated: this POV is confirmed in today’s ZDNet article confirming that Comae Technologies and Kaspersky Lab strongly believe that Petya is a ‘wiper’ designed to destroy data by forever blocking it on your hard drive.

Another article in ZDNet (Danny Palmer) attempts to isolate why hackers remain one step ahead of us:

Law enforcement agencies and cybersecurity firms across the world are investigating the attack – and researchers have offered a temporary method of ‘vaccinating’ against it** – but how has this happened again, just six weeks on from a previous global ransomware outbreak?

One reason this new form of Petya is proving so effective is due to improved worm capabilities, allowing it to spread across infected networks, meaning that only one unpatched machine on a whole network needs to become infected in order for the whole operation to come crashing down.

Not only that, but cybersecurity researchers at Microsoft say the ransomware has multiple ‘lateral movement’ techniques, using file-shares to transfer the malware across the network, using legitimate functions to execute the payload and it even has trojan-like abilities to steal credentials.

**  The inclusion of this link in the quote does not imply any recommendation by TTA, this Editor, or testing of said fix.

What you can do right now is to ensure every computer, every system, you own or are responsible for is fully updated with Microsoft and security patches. If you’re in an enterprise, consult your security provider. Run backups. Remind employees to not click on links in suspicious messages or odd links even from known senders–and report them immediately. Based on reports, phishing emails and watering hole attacks are the main vectors of spread, like WannaCry. (A suggestion from this Editor–limit web search to reputable sites, and don’t click on those advert links which are buggy anyway!) Be judicious on updates for your software except by Microsoft and your security provider; there is growing but still being debated evidence that the initial Ukrainian spread was through a hacked update on a popular tax accounting software, MeDoc. More on this in ZDNet’s 6 Quick Facts. Another suggestion from Wired: run two anti-virus programs on every computer you have, one free and one paid.

And no matter what you do–don’t pay the ransom! The email provider within hours blocked the email so that the payment cannot go through. Updates to come. More reading from Bleeping ComputerHealthcare IT News, CNBC, HIStalk, US-CERT, Fortune, Guardian,

Updated 15 May: 20% of NHS organizations hit by WannaCry, spread halted, hackers hunted

Updated 15 May: According to the Independent, 1 of 5 or 20 percent of NHS trusts, or ‘dozens’, have been hit by the WannaCry malware, with six still down 24 hours later. NHS is not referring to numbers, but here is their updated bulletin and if you are an NHS organization, yesterday’s guidance is a mandatory read. If you have been following this, over the weekend a British specialist known by his/her handle MalwareTech, tweeting as @malwaretechblog, registered a nonsensical domain name which he found was the stop button for the malware as designed into the program, with the help of Proofpoint’s Darien Huss.

It looks as if the Pac-Man march is over. Over the weekend, a British specialist known as MalwareTech, tweeting as @malwaretechblog, registered a nonsensical domain name which he found was the stop button for the malware, with the help of Proofpoint’s Darien Huss. It was a kill switch designed into the program. The Guardian tagged as MalwareTech a “22-year-old from southwest England who works for Kryptos logic, an LA-based threat intelligence company.”

Political fallout: The Home Secretary Amber Rudd is being scored for an apparent cluelessness and ‘wild complacency’ over cybersecurity. There are no reported statements from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. From the Independent: “Patrick French, a consultant physician and chairman of the Holborn and St Pancras Constituency Labour Party in London, tweeted: “Amber Rudd is wildly complacent and there’s silence from Jeremy Hunt. Perhaps an NHS with no money can’t prioritise cyber security!” Pass the Panadol!

Previously: NHS Digital on its website reported (12 May) that 16 NHS organizations have been hacked and attacked by ransomware. Preliminary investigation indicates that it is Wanna Decryptor a/k/a WannaCry. In its statement, ‘NHS Digital is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to support affected organisations and ensure patient safety is protected.’ Healthcare IT News

According to cybersecurity site Krebs on Security, (more…)

AI as patient safety assistant that reduces, prevents adverse events

The 30 year old SXSW conference and cultural event has been rising as a healthcare venue for the past few years. One talk this Editor would like to have attended this past weekend was presented by Eric Horvitz, Microsoft Research Laboratory Technical Fellow and managing director, who is both a Stanford PhD in computing and an MD. This combination makes him a unique warrior against medical errors, which annually kill over 250,000 patients. His point was that artificial intelligence is increasingly used in tools that are ‘safety nets’ for medical staff in situations such as failure to rescue–the inability to treat complications that rapidly escalate–readmissions, and analyzing medical images.

A readmissions clinical support tool, RAM (Readmissions Management), he worked on eight years agon, produced now by Caradigm, predicts which patients have a high probability of readmission and those who will need additional care. Failure to rescue often results from a concatenation of complications happening quickly and with a lack of knowledge that resemble the prelude to an aircraft crash. “We’re considering [data from] thousands of patients, including many who died in the hospital after coming in for an elective procedure. So when a patient’s condition deteriorates, they might lose an organ system. It might be kidney failure, for example, so renal people come in. Then cardiac failure kicks in so cardiologists come in and they don’t know what the story is. The actual idea is to understand the pipeline down to the event so doctors can intervene earlier.” and to understand the patterns that led up to it. Another is to address potential problems that may be outside the doctor’s direct knowledge field or experiences, including the Bayesian Theory of Surprise affecting the thought process. Dr Horvitz discussed how machine learning can assist medical imaging and interpretation. His points were that AI and machine learning, applied to thousands of patient cases and images, are there to assist physicians, not replace them, and not to replace the human touch. MedCityNews

HIMSS17 news flashes: Lenovo, Orbita, Tactio, Garmin, Parallax, Entra Health, Philips, IBM

Voice commands a new frontier in telehealth. Why not dispense with the pill dispenser, the smartphone, the tablet? Lenovo Health and Orbita have put together a solution that works via Amazon Alexa. The Orbita Voice is a voice-controlled speaker for the home that connects with the Lenovo Smart Assistant to “help patients with chronic and post-acute care needs be more fully engaged in their wellness at home. Enhancing a patient’s ability to access and share information with providers, caregivers, and family members contributes to improved care journey management, treatment adherence, and medication compliance.” The release isn’t informative as to how it will do this, but apparently it’s all in the programming. This is the second Lenovo Health initiative on view in the past few months. This Editor saw at NYeC Digital Health their Authoritative Identity Management Exchange establishing a universal, verifiable patient ID system [TTA 19 Jan video] and was impressed.

Canada’s Tactio telehealth platform is adding Garmin wearables to its compatible peripherals. TactioRPM is a mobile platform that combines mobile apps, hundreds of connected health integrations (Garmin, A&D, Fitbit, Roche, Nonin, Omron and Welch Allyn), patient questionnaires, digital coaching programs and HIPAA-compliant messaging. TactioRPM has FDA Class 1, CE and ANVISA (Brazil) clearances. Release via Yahoo Finance

Parallax Health Management (PHM) is presenting with Entra Health (mobile HIT) and Microsoft Cloud its remote patient monitoring systems. Based on the PHM website, they are tablet based with a raft of peripherals for the multiple-chronic condition patient. The release highlights their chief medical officer, Bob Arnot, MD who is well known in the US as an author and television presenter.

Philips announced US FDA 510(k) clearance of the IntelliVue Guardian software system, which pairs with the single-use, adhesive Philips Wearable Sensor for continuous clinical-grade monitoring of high-acuity patients. The software gained CE Mark certification last October. They also debuted a mobile app called Jovia Coach for healthcare systems to reach patients at risk for Type 2 diabetes. MedCityNews.  Philips’ ongoing Intensive Ambulatory Care (IAC) pilot program with Banner Health in Arizona so far has delivered impressive reductions in overall costs of care by 34.5 percent and hospitalizations by 49.5 percent. LeadingAge/CAST

IBM Watson heralds cognitive computing, or computers that learn, according to IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, and will profoundly change medicine as well as IBM, as they are betting the company on it. In the meantime, they have announced the Watson Platform for Health Cloud and a specialized Watson Health Consulting Services unit. Health Data Management. An elephant in the ointment is that the prestigious MD Anderson Cancer Center, part of the University of Texas, has put their Watson program, the Oncology Expert Advisor, on indefinite hold as it checks out other contractors after sinking $62 million into OEA over three years without a measurable result. Forbes

US Army researchers use sensors, gels to study, mitigate brain and body blast effects

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/ARL_tour-1024×819.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]US Army research labs have been leading the way for some years in researching how impacts, such as those experienced from explosive devices or other sources of concussion, can affect the brain and body. One tactic Army researchers in the Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) are taking is to engineer increased protection in ground vehicles (ground vehicle systems in Army-speak). However, testing designs can’t be done with humans. One method used is a sensor-laden crash dummy (Warrior Injury Assessment Manikin or WIAMan, seen above left). Fred Hughes, director of the WIAMan Engineering Office, commented that “The manikin’s sophisticated bio-fidelity and robust sensor design provides an unmatched level of accuracy determining the potential effects of blast on soldiers in new vehicle systems.” Another tool is the Microsoft-designed Hololens which allows researchers to virtually explore explosion simulations. Both are being used to assess survivability and mobility design in vehicles. Armed With Science

At another part of RDECOM located at the Aberdeen (Maryland) Proving Ground, US Army Research Laboratory researchers have simulated brain texture and mass through a specially designed gel. These nanomaterials are designed to fluoresce at graduated intensities under pressure. The goal is that researchers can track blast effects on the brain at the cellular level. ARL research in this area is jointly conducted with counterparts in the Japanese Defense Ministry, where researchers are contributing their knowledge of physiological effects such as cortical depressant, blood circulation and oxygen levels in tissue. ARL News, YouTube video. Both tracks of research are designed to protect soldiers in the field from TBI, and better understand the effects of blast-created trauma to the brain.

Next DHACA Members’ Day announced for 11th January 2016

The next DHACA Members’ day will be on 11th January at the Digital Catapult Centre, 101 Euston Rd. NW1 2RA, Membership of DHACA continues to be free; members are welcome to arrive from 9.30, Proceedings will begin promptly at 10am and end at 4.30pm at the latest.

DHACA is still finalising the order of the agenda, however the following have kindly agreed to present:

Deborah El-Sayed, Head of multi-channel development for NHS 111, will talk about NIB Workstream 1.1 – Enable me to make the right health and care choices – an area of really key importance to DHACA members as this is where patients will increasingly interface with the NHS electronically. This will include a discussion when attendees can raise key issues with Deborah, and the Workstream more generally.

There will be a similar arrangement for Usama Edoo, a senior member of the Accelerated Access Review team who will (more…)

Accessibility arriving at the Top Table (guest blog)

Chris Lewis, a world-renowned telecoms expert and regular presenter on disability issues has kindly offered to share some thoughts with readers prior to his presentation at the Royal Society of Medicine event on the Medical Benefits of Wearables on 23rd November. This is the first of two he has written specially for TTA.

At this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona accessibility I took to one of the main stages for the first time. IBM, Microsoft, Google and the Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF) joined me to present perspectives on how accessibility is going mainstream.

I introduced the session with some of the key findings from the second Telefonica accessibility report “Digitising the Billion Disabled: Accessibility Gets Personal“. In summary, the billion disabled people represent a major spending group, combining earnings of some $2.3 Trillion and state support of $1.3 Trillion. Disabled people on average earn only 60% of their able-bodied peers and, of course, many disabled people don’t get the opportunity to work at all. 4% of children and 10% of the working population are disabled, but perhaps most striking, over three quarters of the elderly. Combine this dynamic with Douglas Adams’s theory of adopting technology getting harder as we get older and you can see the ticking time bomb of disability and age. (more…)

“Events, dear boy, events” (UK)

Harold Macmillan probably never said that in response to the question “What is most likely to blow a government off course?”, however we thought we’d use the quote to highlight a few cracking events coming up.

The Wearable Technology event, is being hosted by the Digital Catapult Centre, on 18th November, in London. On the topic of wearables, the BBC’s “the Bottom Line” had a great programme on 30th October on the subject. In the UK (at least) you can download a podcast or listen on iPlayer. There’s also an update on new Jawbone releases which seem now to be going for different form factors to the original UP, whose unreliability resulted in this editor being on his fourth such device in some 15 months. Info on Microsoft’s Band is here. The recent PWC report on Wearables is here.

At the same place starting on Monday 8th December there is a whole week of incredibly valuable assistance in the Digital Health Pit Stop, which is free! Events include a design day (8th), a business day (9th), a health day (10th), a data day (11th) and on 12th December (more…)

‘eVisits’ save $5 billion globally this year–but are they more effective care?

Deloitte and Towers Watson obviously disagree on the savings from eVisits (Deloitte) and telemedicine (Towers Watson). Deloitte’s study of eVisits projects a global savings of $5 billion in 2014. Towers Watson is estimating $6 billion in 2015 from US employers alone if there is full employee utilization of telemedicine. Deloitte is also more transparent in its estimating, for example on the $50-60 billion total addressable market for eVisits in ‘developed countries’. This Editor doesn’t see a major difference in definitions between the two; Deloitte defines eVisits as video consults plus the forms, questionnaires and photos that have become part of telehealth, but not the vital signs monitoring part.. Perhaps our readers, looking at both more closely, can discern, or confirm that Towers Watson has too rosy a picture? Deloitte‘s ’21st Century Housecall’ study (short paper) is also worth a read for presenting facts/figures on the global addressable market and for a surprising conclusion–that the ‘greater good (in developing countries) may come from saving tens of millions of lives’. Hat tip to reader Mike Clark. Clinical Innovation + Technology summary.

‘Virtual care is much more effective than brick-and-mortar care.” (Editor’s emphasis) A bold statement that Microsoft and the writer from Intel fail to back up with facts. The focus of this ‘In Health’ article is preventing readmissions. There are the usual Panglossian pointers  (more…)

Swoon or mourn? Smartwatch action: Misfit, MS HealthVault, Glance

The smartwatch is nowhere near dead (check the beautiful Withings Activité at CEWeek), but its future, along with pure fitness bands, is a complicated thing. Three moves by small to giant companies further add color to (or complicate) the picture, including an ‘aftermarket’ add on for your current watch:

  • Misfit joins up with the Pebble smartwatch. The Misfit Shine, which has enjoyed much appreciation by the D3H as the ‘elegant button’, announced it will distribute its tracking app and algorithm technology to smartwatch makers. Pebble is the first and not exclusive. Sonny Vu, not known for his subtlety, is quoted in VentureBeat: “If I kept making just fitness trackers, I would be out of business in 12 to 18 months.” Misfit will continue to sell Shine in the US and internationally for at least another few quarters to meet demand for a fitness-only tracker. It shows you how quickly the weather changes: with $23 million in hand, and a Series B last December of $15.2 million, they are pivoting–quickly. John Sculley and other bluechip investors like Khosla Ventures and Norwest Capital obviously see a boulder in the road.
  • Microsoft moving to get into the smartwatch biz. Their patent filing of 2012 was just the first move but both Forbes and VentureBeat have confirmed rumors the device is a go. And they have a core of techies (Xbox) to work on it and the perfect place for the data: Microsoft HealthVault. Nothing like a smartwatch to jolt some life into a moribund PHR!
  • Love your plain old watch but just want to soup it up? Slip Kiwi Wearables’ Glance under your watch instead and get fitness tracking plus smartwatch functions. Kiwi already has the app for the Kiwi Move but Glance seems to have more such as interaction with your phone calls. Think of it as an aftermarket accessory, especially if you’re a traditionalist in watch form factor and/or don’t have the long green for Withings. In Kickstarter funding now with a price point of $65, but they are less than halfway towards their $150,000 goal with only six days to go. Gizmag

‘Blue Blazes’ indeed: wearables meet the lingerie counter

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/blue-blazes.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]A sure sign that 1) wearables are truly on the ‘good side’ of the Gartner Hype Curve and that 2) Microsoft’s priorities are a little skewed is this item from Discovery News that Microsoft developed and tested a brassiere that measures wearer stress. It’s equipped with sensor pads measuring heart rate, respiration via an EKG sensor, skin conductance with an electrodermal activity sensor, and movement with an accelerometer and gyroscope, all sent to a smartphone app then to the researchers. The purpose: to alert to stress-related overeating. It also tweets when removed (ahem). Unfortunately the batteries powering the sensors only lasted for four hours and even the lead researcher admitted that she’s looking for another part of the body that accurately measures stress, but doesn’t require as much work. As some wag commenting on New York Magazine’s Grub Street‘s very funny take on it put it, it assumes that women wear their bras when stress overeating! Calling Sonny Vu…. Hat tip and a swirl of the cape to healthcare SME and reader Lois Drapin of The Drapin Group.

Microsoft Kinect now as sign language translator

The versatility of Microsoft Kinect continues to astound, with uses ranging from human rehab/physical therapy to equipping robots with anticipatory powers for your drink to Ellie the Virtual Analyst. Add sign language translation to this list. The latest is Chinese sign language simultaneous translation via Kinect that will permit deaf and hearing individuals to understand each other. Sign languages are their own entity with grammar and rules that make the spoken/written language nearly foreign to the user. The system developed by Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Computing Technology and Microsoft Research Asia joins the one developed for American Sign Language last year. Wired.co.uk  Hat tip to Toni Bunting, TTA and TANN Ireland.