Fashion? Can wearables simply…work?

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]Apple’s hiring of Burberry’s CEO Angela Ahrendts as Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores to start in spring 2014 may well be indicative of the importance that Apple is putting on 1) smartwatches (she was honcho of a Burberry watch intro) and 2) wearables (she refreshed and upscaled an iconic brand from stores to merchandise). Chris Matyszczyk in Cnet points out that she is the second hire from the fashion industry (the other’s from YSL). On one hand this seems to reinforce that Apple’s strong suit is design; on the other hand it implies that their retail and online stores need to evolve after some recent missteps–and that they may not feel as confident as in the past of their internal capabilities. However this all seems too haute for the simple everyday buyer who wants stuff that helps you live your life better and more conveniently, and who may find it much easier to go to Verizon or Vodaphone for their mobile needs and that Jawbone UP band to wear. And where are the other wearables, say in a Burberry scarf? The Gimlet Eye is blinking in impatience, and it had better be elegant, or Gloria and Babe’s ghosts will be haunting Cupertino. [TTA 25 Oct]  Apple and the emperor’s new wearable tech (Cnet) Hat tip to TANN Ireland Editor Toni BuntingNew Apple Retail Chief Hired Over SummerApple to Hire Burberry CEO (MacRumors).

The Gimlet Eye’s fashion update

[grow_thumb image=”×300.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /]Enough of this talk of failing health insurance websites and dodgy taxes! Begone! The Babe Paley or Gloria Guinness that The Gimlet Eye aspires to be longs for a dress such as this. And accompanied with its built-in InflataCorset which will calm my excited heart and nervous system when reading the latest outrage, Eye am also assured of maintaining an unblinking countenance (though too much corseting may cause me to fall into a faint.) The Flutter dress is pretty enough to conceal its premise to assist the wearer with hearing loss to ‘feel’ loud sound and respond. And Dahea Sun’s color changing dress depending on the environment–perfection, though the microcontroller may scratch. Does it change to basic black? Rise of the Fashionable Machines (MedCityNews)

Turn up, tune in but don’t drop out with health monitoring earphones

microsoft_septimu_earphonesAs part of a recent research project, Microsoft has incorporated health and fitness monitoring into a pair of earphones.

One application being developed for the hardware platform named Septimu, is a smartphone app called Musical Heart. The app enables Septimu to generate tunes based on a person’s mood or activity. So for example, fitness enthusiasts who want to keep the heart rate high can use Musical Heart to automatically up the tempo, helping them keep up the pace. Or for those feeling stressed or angry, Musical Heart could select something more soothing to help bring the heart rate and breathing down to a more relaxed level. Reported in PSFK

A timely study published online last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrated that ‘musical agency’ (i.e. music chosen by the study participants) greatly decreased perceived exertion during strenuous activity. (more…)

Don’t worry, there’s a wristband for that…

tactiluNot one for my Christmas list, but check out this TechCrunch review if you want to find out more about the Tikker wristwatch (which is currently doing well on Kickstarter). Tikker will calculate when you’re likely to bite the dust, based on factors like age, activity level, BMI and location.

If you’re hesitating as to how you might feel about wearing such a thing, just place a mood wristband on your other arm. (more…)

Body computing, sensors and all that data

This past week’s Body Computing Conference at University of Southern California (USC) had three sessions focusing on wearable sensors and the big names such as the well-financed Fitbit, Jawbone, BodyMedia, the ingestible sensor Proteus and Zephyr. The panels were split between the medical-grade and the consumer oriented with this report indicating some friction between the two. The notion of the Quantified Self died hard, even with Basis Science’s Marco Della Torre noting that 80% of health app users abandon them within two weeks, so the discussion moved to form factor and the ‘holy grail’ of getting the 90% of never-ever QSers to pay some attention. Of course, it’s the flood of data that has to somehow be processed (one of the FBQs) even though the doctors appear to be unconvinced of the evidence…but the ‘big data’ may be proving it after the fact. The future of wearable sensors in healthcare (iMedicalApps)

Relax, it’s (not) just a breathing monitor headset

breath monitor treadmillA headset which monitors the quality of your breathing is being developed by BreathResearch, a San Francisco Bay area start-up.

Combined with a mobile app, the ‘Breath Acoustics’ headset listens to your breathing and analyzes the patterns. Sensor-based breath monitoring may be a less commonly monitored biometric pattern but recent studies suggest it could be used to detect stress levels, bacterial infections and other conditions. The headset also presents other biometric data, including heart rate, pulse oximetry, and respiration.  (more…)

A ‘mobilized’ artificial pancreas breakthrough?

Neil Versel (again) profiles a mobile platform that may be the start of the end of the Continuing Battle of Stalingrad for type 1 diabetes patients.  The prototype system, Diabetes Assistant (DiAs), is a closed-loop system which combines a modified Android phone with wirelessly connected wearables attached on the skin–Dexcom glucose monitors and Insulet OmniPod insulin pumps- to effectively act as an artificial pancreas. It was developed by University of Virginia’s Center for Diabetes Technology with funding via The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Findings of the 20 patients monitored were initially presented at June’s American Diabetes Association’s annual scientific meeting and published in the July edition of the journal Diabetes Care (PDF does not require subscription). The system was designed by an international team:  Sansum Diabetes Research Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif., University of Padova in Italy and the University of Montpellier in France.  Tests continued with summer campers and the integration of Bluetooth LE into the connectivity system.  Mobihealthnews article.

But can this small miracle of a system be hacked–and can providers be held accountable? This scary thought of ‘harm or death by hacking’, with the example given of an insulin pump gone awry–was tagged at the 2011 Hacker’s Ball, a/k/a Black Hat USA by Jerome Radcliffe [yes, in TTA back in August 2011]. The late Barnaby Jack was also on the medical device hack track. The danger is only now entering the consciousness of medical administrators and the industry press in mainstream venues such as Information WeekAre Providers Liable If Hacked Medical Device Harms A Patient? (Healthcare Technology Online). Also Kevin Coleman in Information Week tells more about the liability providers may find themselves in if they don’t update their systems.

Both the diabetes closed-loop systems under development (Diabetes Assistant is one of three) and the hacking threat were addressed by Contributing Editor Charles earlier this month [TTA 5 August] in his examination of how systems should move from decision support to decision taking in order to truly reduce patient or caregiver burden.

Qualcomm Life, Palomar Health pair up to check out Glass-wear

The pairing up of Qualcomm Life and California health system Palomar Health in Glassomics is certainly a novel move. It’s termed an ‘incubator’ to explore wearable computing in medicine, but it is more like a test bed for the partners. Heading it are two recognized health tech honchos–Don Jones, VP of Qualcomm Life and Orlando Portale, Palomar’s Chief Innovation Officer. Innovation and development is not new for Palomar and Portale–they trialled AirStrip, Mr. Portale’s mobile platform for it (eventually sold to them), and were key in the three-year ramp-up of Sotera Wireless’ Visi Mobile patient vital sign monitor [TTA 23 Aug 12]. Much has been made of the Glass connection and testing its healthcare chops, but their mission is not limited to ‘glassware’ (and not for your weekend drinks party, either.) It’s also a home to test out Qualcomm’s 2net connection platform and Healthy Circles Care Orchestration tools and services. Glassomics website. Gigaom article

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”170″ /]And for your weekend drinks party, here’s a cooler, lighter and less geeky take on Glass: GlassUp. It reports incoming e-mails, text messages, tweets, Facebook updates and other messages. Italian design for Augmented Reality (the new cool term for the category) of course. Yours for $299-399 on crowdfunder Indiegogo, where they are less than halfway to their goal with 11 days left (better hustle!). The Indiegogo video here.

Google Glass through a doctor’s eyes

John Halamka, MD, CTO of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston, writes about his experience testing Glass in the clinical environment and sees five useful areas–documentation, alerts and reminders, ED dashboards supplementing or displacing tablets, decision support (Watson, anyone?) “Just as the iPad has become the chosen form factor for clinicians today, I can definitely see a day when computing devices are more integrated into the clothing or body of the clinician.”  Not the Object of Evil painted by the consumer IT gearheads and privacy advocates.  Perhaps an ideal place for this? But is this Editor the only one who finds that ‘Meaningful Use Stage 2’ compliance (assistive technology) in the #1 position a bit odd?  The Health Care Blog (Health 2.0) Hat tip to reader Bob Pyke via LinkedIn.

Beyond the bracelet; the coming ubiquity of sensor-equipped wearables

Wearables are developing into the next big thing in the health tech/monitoring area, and developing beyond the bracelet form factor represented by Jawbone UP, Fitbit and Nike Fuelband. Misfit Shine of course has been touted as the major future player, but has experienced a few bumps on the road to Damascus, taking a technically-caused delay to their bracelet/pendant sensor debut now mid-July and not being compatible with Android [TTA 30 May]. But they have also entered the clothing fray with a trademark filing, according to Mobihealthnews. This article also spotlights wearables makers Zephyr, OMsignal (compression shirts); Heapsylon Sensoria socks. This Editor will be seeing and reviewing wearables such as Basis at CEWeek’s FashionWare, sponsored by Living in Digital Times, next week. Disclosure: TTA is a media partner of the Digital Health Summit, also produced by Living in Digital Times.

Google Glass-type extra help for the vision impaired

Developed by Israeli startup OrCam, these glasses promise a boost for people with impaired vision in a Google Glass-type form factor. The glasses conceal a minute audio/visual pickup, connected to a pocket-sized PC which can read “text in the wild” such as bus numbers, newspaper articles, and traffic lights. OrCam can also be set up to recognize faces, products and places which are pre-programmed, or can store new ones such as family, friends and credit cards, by the user shaking it or waving a hand, then following directions for storage. Google Glass for visually impaired reads street signs aloud (PSFK). (Hat tip to TANN Ireland Editor and TTA reader Toni Bunting) Ed. note: suddenly, any glasses-type wearable is compared with a product that is barely out!