In Diet, Fitness, Quantified Self, Smart Wearables, Swim Posted

Swimmerix: Personalized Swim Tracker With Real Time Feedback

Swimmerix is a new swim efficiency and training tracker that uses both a lightweight wristband and a waterproof base to create a full feedback environment for swimmers.

swimmerix

The portable base station connects to the wristband using wireless low-frequency communication, and can be mounted on any pool wall. The base tracks 6 parameters, including speed, calories burned, and heart rate. Calculating the swimmer’s heart rate with speed data and number of strokes, the base station then sends feedback to the swimmer via the wearable wristband. The wristband displays clear color codes to encourage the swimmer to speed up, slow down, or keep pace. A connected app also takes data from the base and with the swimmer’s individual goals, pairs the user with complementary training programs.

swimmerix features

Here’s how the company describes Swimmerix:

  • Swimmers are guided thoroughly and can get information about their progress on the go — even underwater — with color-coded instructions or on the base display.
  • The smart-tracker is not another smart watch or tracker. We have separated the screen from the wristband and built in the signal lights in the wristband to deliver just-in-time training information.
  • Swimmerix was made for swimmers at all levels, not just athletes.
  • We’ve implemented basic training programs in the app such as weight loss, muscle building, to train heart, spine and lungs and so on.

At time of publication, Swimmerix is available for purchase on Kickstarter.

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In Doctor Interaction, Founder Interview, On Demand Posted

Heal: You Don’t Need to Leave Home for Quality Care

Heal is a doctor house call app that matches users with a nearby doctor within the hour and costs $99 flat. Founder & Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Renee Dua, MD, and her team launched the service in Los Angeles, CA in February, and most recently in San Francisco. “We are growing very fast and have 30% recurring users already,” says Dr. Dua. “Most of the growth can be attributed to word of mouth and a lot of ‘wow I don’t know why I would see a doctor any other way.’”

heal app

Thanks to Uber and instant delivery on just about anything via Amazon, Google, Instacart and a slew of newcomers, going door to door has become more efficient. Dr. Dua explains, “In general there is no need to leave your house to do anything anymore. When you see your doctor at home you also develop a new relationship with her and can give your doctor better insight into your lifestyle. Your doctor can see that you are eating junk food, or if you are taking medications, you can run upstairs and get them to show your doctor.”

Healapp

Heal is configured to find you a doctor within an hour of your search. The Company has a very high bar for its doctors. “I’m so proud of the quality of our doctors, their education, and their compassion. I’ve met every doctor who works on our service,” says Dr. Dua. And what draws doctors to a service like Heal? She explains, “It’s not about finances – we pay them very well. It’s not about having a job – they all have jobs. Every one of them says that they want to have more control over how much time they spend with their patients. Some visits are 5 minutes, and some are 40 minutes. Doctor’s choose Heal because they love the freedom to practice the kind of medicine they want to do.”

The app is starting to make a splash in the news and new patients are writing in, excited about the service. “I got an email from a woman who is pregnant. When you are pregnant it’s not that easy or safe to get around. She used our service, had a long 30 minute visit with a doctor and had all her questions answered in the comfort of her home.” While pregnant and new mothers are an expanding demographic, a couple new features are on Heal’s horizon to expand the company’s reach. “We’ll have the capacity to do all of this in Spanish, which is very near and dear to my heart. We are going to change the website a bit and most of our doctors already speak Spanish,” says Dr. Dua. “Additionally, we’ll be offering ancillary services like medication delivery. We will go to the pharmacy, pay the copay, and bring it to you.” In the future, Heal looks to add lab draws and lab processing, mobile imaging, flu shots and vaccines to its offerings. The service is live in Los Angeles and San Francisco, CA at the time of publication.

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In Body Monitor, Quantified Self, Smart Wearables Posted

AmpStrip: Athletes Excited for Discrete 24/7 Activity Monitoring, Adheres Directly To Skin

FitLinxx started developing health and fitness tracking/monitoring devices twenty years ago, giving their partners better access to sensors and data analysis tools. In January 2015, the Company launched its first consumer product called AmpStrip, a heart rate and activity monitoring device worn directly on the skin. It is small, discrete, waterproof, and packed with sensors. Dave Monahan, FitLinxx CEO and President, tells us more about this innovative device.

AmpStrip athlete

How does AmpStrip fit with FitLinxx’s other lines of business?

DM: FitLinxx has developed industry-leading enterprise health and fitness technology for more than 20 years. Our wellness applications and devices are leveraged by partners and fitness facility operators across the world in various employer wellness and interactive fitness programs. AmpStrip leverages our two decades of building devices to track fitness and activity and takes it one step further with the innovative adhesive design. It is a smart and accurate heart rate and activity monitor that is comfortable, durable and discrete.

How did the Company decide on a patch form?

DM: Athletes know heart rate is key to understanding how your body is performing and that continuously monitoring through training, sleep and recovery provides the best insights to improve performance. The existing heart rate monitors on the market really didn’t provide a good way to track data around the clock and through any type of exercise. Heart rate straps are uncomfortable. Watches can be bulky, get in the way, and have fit issues that result in inaccurate activity measurement during a workout. Neither option can really be worn continuously so even more critical data is lost about rest and recovery.

We knew athletes needed something more comfortable, accurate and easy-to-use. After researching the market, we developed the adhesive design of AmpStrip. The AmpStrip adheres to the body like a Band-Aid® with a medical-grade adhesive that allows users to monitor their activity in a completely unobtrusive manner 24/7. And since it’s waterproof and can be worn during showers and while swimming, you really can stick it on and forget it, while simultaneously getting more and better data than with any other product.

Ampstrip athletes

Is the product being augmented for use in medical research or for more casual fitness enthusiasts?

DM: AmpStrip is for competitive athletes who want to improve their performance and can also be used by anyone looking to monitor their heart rate and activity. AmpStrip’s advanced technology may eventually lead to medical-grade health trackers, pending FDA approval.

What are the top indicators AmpStrip is calibrated to capture, and are there ones currently being worked on for the next generation?

DM: AmpStrip tracks four main components: resting heart rate, heart rate recovery, exercise load and heart rate variability. With around the clock monitoring, AmpStrip is then able to support training decisions at three key times: instantaneously, previous days’ workouts, and over time. During training, the AmpStrip will let you monitor your heart rate in real time so you can adjust your intensity as needed. Previous day workout data that include sleep and recovery measurements will help you plan ahead for the next workout to adjust for intensity and prevent overtraining and historical data helps you measure changes in overall fitness level and evaluate your improvement.

As far as what’s to come, we’re constantly researching new capabilities for future generations of the product, so stay tuned!

What are the most common questions or concerns on the product?

DM: Consumers often ask about the placement of the AmpStrip on the torso. The right answer is that AmpStrip should be worn on the left side of your chest just below your pectoral muscle. This is the best place as it’s close to the heart, where our sensitive single lead ECG sensor will capture the best heart rate signal.

AmpStrip is expected to be commercially available late summer of 2015 and can be preordered in the meantime on Indiegogo. The original campaign was 734% funded on February 28, 2015.

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In Aging, App, Founder Interview Posted

SingFit: Music Therapy for a Healthier and Happier Lifestyle

SingFit marries music and fitness into a fun and collaborative therapy program directed towards seniors. The SingFit concept was initially conceived by Lou Tubman in the 1960s. With the emergence of the iPod and soon following, the app infrastructure, recent advances in technology gave SingFit a broader distribution channel than Lou could have initially hoped for. SingFit co-founder and CEO, Rachel Francine, is a digital pioneer who, starting in 1996, helped lay the tracks of the Internet as a member of the CitySearch New Markets team. SingFit’s co-founder and Chief of Therapeutics and Music, Andy Tubman, is an internationally recognized, board-certified music therapist, and a noted authority and popular speaker on the subject of music and health. More than their separate parts, Andy and Rachel are Lou’s children. Lou instilled in his children a passion for changing the world through music and technology that continues to drive the business every day.

Rachel Francine walks us through how SingFit is changing lives and bringing happiness to seniors nationwide.

What is the science behind singing and health?

RF: SingFit leverages a rapidly growing body of science out of top labs that proves regular singing benefits many of our most critical health systems. These studies show regular singing is a whole-brain, cross-hemispheric workout, which experts agree is key to maintaining good neurological health as we age. Research also reveals that singing releases endorphins, serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine to elevate mood, decrease anxiety and reduce pain, all without side effects or negative drug interactions. Singing also, in a manner similar to traditional physical exercise and mind/body practices including yoga and meditation, helps to positively regulate cortisol, respiration and heart-rate variability for better cardiovascular health and stress reduction!

How is SingFit designed to best fit the elderly demographic?

RF: We took established, evidence-based practices that music therapists have been using with seniors for decades to create turnkey programming that, in combination with our SingFit app and training, can be facilitated by in-house staff at senior-living communities with no previous musical training. These evidence-based practices that we turned into programming include themed playlists to help with focus, trivia to exercise semantic memory, movements to create cross-hemispheric brain activity and musical props such as shakers and scarves. Of course, all of the music is age- and era-appropriate and features songs familiar to seniors, including “Blue Moon,” “Hound Dog,” “Embraceable You,” and “Over the Rainbow.”

SingFit

Are more people using SingFit individually or in group sessions?

RF: Thus far we have focused on our group programming, so most people use it in that environment. However, we are launching a new product with our partners at CDW that will allow seniors at Independent Living communities to use SingFit on their own to improve brain fitness.

I haven’t seen many competitors in the space. How have customers reacted?

RF: The most common question we get is “how much does it cost,” because once potential customers see a demo of SingFit PRIME with their residents, they immediately see and understand the benefits.

Are there other products or services SingFit has in the works?

RF: Within the senior sector we will be releasing a training program for the 8.9 million family members and friends who care for someone with dementia so they can use SingFit on a one-to-one basis. We are also looking at releasing a non-senior product in 2016 that we will be announcing later this year.

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In Quantified Self Posted

Tory Burch and Fitbit Add New Products, Introduce Fret Double-Wrap Leather Bracelet

The Fitbit Flex tracks steps, distance, calories burned, and activity in addition to sleeping habits. The initial accessories collection for Tory Burch for Fitbit Flex, which launched in July 2014, included a gold metal bracelet and pendant as well as patterned silicone wristbands. The items sold out within hours of launch and now Tory Burch is back, with more accessories and silicone prints. The partnership recently introduced silver and rose gold metal accessories, new silicone wristband designs, and the Fret Double-Wrap Leather Bracelet, which launched on March 26.

fitbit tory burch

Here are some more details Fitbit provided on their partnership with Tory Burch:

  • The Tory Burch for Fitbit partnership revolutionized the wearables market by transforming the fitness tracker into a chic piece of jewelry fit for any occasion
  • With the Tory Burch partnership, Flex was the first tracker to offer high-end fashion accessories
  • The Tory Burch for Fitbit accessories collection meets a real need in the market
    • Customers routinely tell us they are excited to have another way to wear their Fitbit trackers in more formal settings
    • We were honored to see the collection highlighted in WWD’s year-end list of important “Fashion Moments of 2014”

Tory Burch for Fitbit is currently available throughout North America and the UK in-store and online, as well as available for international shipping in select countries.

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In Hardware + Software, Quantified Self, Wearables, Workout Fun Posted

Zensorium Being: Mindful Living Via Mood, Heart Rate, Activity, and Sleep Insights

After launching the popular Tinké, a tracker that measures heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood oxygen saturation to determine fitness and stress indices, Zensorium is at it again, this time with Being. Being is sleek and fashionable, but don’t let that fool you. Sensors on the device continuously capture heart rate and activity, and research level analytics can triangulate changes in mood and stress. The team at Being answers our questions, below.

How does Being fit into the growing family of Zensorium products?

Being is positioned as a wearable that continuously monitors mood, sleep, and activity, which is another step closer to our mission of improving quality of life.

How does Being sense stress and know the difference between good vs. bad stress?

The key differentiator is that Being understands your mood, and is able to analyze if you are undergoing good or bad stress. Most of us are not able to resonate how we feel on a day-to-day basis. By being able to passively know your moods, you are therefore empowered to actively monitor and effectively train yourself to be more resilient and reduce negativity.

How does Being notify users that they need a wellness change?

As Being monitors your hourly mood, Being will also determine the percentage of time you spend in different stress zones (calm, normal, excited, distressed). You will be able to visualize easily the percentage of time you are stressed in a day and be guided with tips and videos on how to improve. As we continue to train the system, we will also work with partners to release new features.

zensorium being

What are the top priorities for the design of the wearable?

Top priorities for us include long battery life, water resistance, and use of hypoallergenic materials. For the design, we prioritized functionality over aesthetics. Usually, a customer buys something because she needs it. Only a fraction of customers will buy simply because of how it looks without knowing what it does.

Currently are there other products Zensorium has in the works?

We have 3-5 products in the pipeline that we have yet to announce.

Being is available for pre-order; estimated arrival date in late Spring. Special thanks to Juliana Chua, Zensorium Business Innovation Group.

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In Hardware + Software, Inspiration, Wearables Posted

Wearable Devices, Seeking Fashion, Seeking Invisibility

Minimalism is a growing trend – designers tout clean lines and “less is more” in home decor, and stylists advocate a “few key pieces” for completing any essential wardrobe. It isn’t a surprise that wearables are adapting to the spirit of the times.

From the bulky first version of the Basis watch to the sleek Withings Activitié, Moore’s law is driving towards smaller, faster, more complex data machines, and human aesthetics is compelling changes in design. The two paths are obvious – either make wearables beautiful or make them invisible. There are a growing number of partnerships between the data savvy and the design extraordinary – Fitbit and Tory Burch, Case-Mate and Rebecca Minkoff, and Intel and Opening Ceremony, to name a few, are tackling the first path. There are research focused and athlete attentive startups like MC10, OMsignal, and Hexoskin that have embarked on the second path. While the two routes are not mutually exclusive, I imagine invisibility will show dominance in the long run.

This month we’ll explore wearables that marry fashion with utility and ones that are inconspicuously hidden.

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In Uncategorized Posted

Bitbite: Lose Weight by Chewing Food Slower, More Regularly

Bitbite is a small in-ear piece that has a built-in microphone tuned to collecting eating sounds. Using sound analysis and pattern recognition, the Company “’listens to your eating and guides you with real-time dietary advice.” The microphone also picks up voice annotations and can document what is being eaten when the user says the item name out loud. The key to the technology is that the Bitbite assesses chewing (quality, intervals, rates) based on the type of food and gives real-time suggestions to coach users on how to best eat that item.

Sounds a little too obtrusive? The device is constructed on the establishment that “when you slow down, chew more and eat at regular intervals you’ll be improving your nutrition, feeling better and shedding those extra pounds.” What’s interesting is that because the device knows what is being eaten, and how much/how fast, it can triangulate calorie intake. Wearables have been struggling to track calories more accurately, and this could certainly be one solution. Bitbite surpassed it’s Indiegogo campaign, and is estimated to ship this summer for early backers.

bitbite

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In Aging, Big Data, Hardware + Software, Personal Health Posted

Sensara: Unobtrusive and Invisible Monitoring for Aging at Home

Sensara is a Dutch company focused on helping the elderly age gracefully at home. Sensara’s mission is clear, “We provide a way of unobtrusive and invisible monitoring – the user doesn’t feel like they are monitored and family members don’t have to check in all the time,” says Irek Karkowski, CEO.

Irek has been doing research on the elderly for the past 15 years. His research covered everything from what people want and need to what worked and didn’t for living and aging comfortably at home. The current Sensara system is so sleek and easy to use that it’s hard to believe how much Irek’s team iterated on the product. Irek reminisces, “The first few solutions were complex and quite expensive. They required installing a lot of technology, which made uptake difficult because of the large upfront installation effort, and they also required people to adapt their lifestyle to the technology.” In 2008 the system had 40 sensors, and today the system comes with four.

When I asked about wearables, Irek responds, “We know that wearables are very hot. I think there is some potential in this area, but we noticed that the elderly did not like any additional wearable devices to what they are used to because at their age it is hard to change habits. We observed that you can’t rely on the elderly to actually wear devices, especially if they have to charge them. For example, for folks with dementia, you can’t ask them to wear a device, charge it, and have them remember to put it back on.”

While Sensara also has professional systems for nursing homes, they made some key design changes when it came to in-home monitoring, specifically to make the device as unobtrusive as possible.

Sensara

“First we minimized the number of sensors. Our package comes with four sensors, all of them are wireless and operate on batteries. We also made the system less expensive and easy to install- the sensors are fairly insensitive to how people install them,” Irek says. On the note of four sensors, he says that “based on our experience, there are really only six to seven activities that are useful to monitor. We can increase sensors if the home is larger, but the main things to track are sleeping, eating, number of hours outside, walking speed, general activity level, and number of visits to the restroom.” By treating all of the sensors as one network, Sensara can accurately detect changes in their behavior over both short and long periods of time.

The sensors take about two weeks to learn a baseline for ‘normal’ activities and then it automatically switches to monitoring for abnormalities and suspicious behavior. Data are sent to software in the cloud and families are notified of any irregular activities through the Sensara app. Irek describes some typical notification situations as, “Someone takes a long time to get out of bed in the morning, someone leaves the house and doesn’t come back in the evening, or someone is at home but there is no activity for quite some time. But we also track long term changes – if someone starts walking slower then their chance of falling is greatly increased.”

Sensara is live in The Netherlands, Germany and the U.K., with more European countries to come. The company has started trials in China and they plan to also roll-out in the US, but no date is set yet.

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In Aging, Big Data, Founder Interview Posted

Evermind: Use Appliances to Monitor Loved Ones As They Age

Evermind uses household appliances to monitor daily activities of the aging at home population. The device looks like an adapter and can be plugged into any home AC outlet, with the monitored appliance jack rerouted into it. It is discrete and easily forgotten as it does its job, tracking changes and charting irregularities of appliance usage throughout the day. Depending on the caregiver’s preferences, Evermind can send notifications based on too little or too much use, or odd patterns of use. It might just be the most unobtrusive home monitoring device system yet, and certainly a very easy one to install. We interviewed the team at Evermind to learn more about the company.

Evermind sensor

What was the impetus to create Evermind? How did the company start?

In Nashville, Tennessee in 2012, Dr. Dave Gilbert, along with a small team of engineers, formed a company with the goal of creating age-friendly technologies that improve the lives of those who are living alone, or who need extra support, and the people who care about them. Dr. Gilbert’s personal inspiration for creating a remote caregiver’s tool is his 97-year-old grandmother, Lois, who is still able to live alone in her own home because of this product.

In creating a connected home, what made you chose detecting when appliances are on or off (versus using sensors or wearables) as an indicator for an occupant’s wellbeing?

We wanted to look for markers of well-being in the way people use common household appliances, or powered medical equipment, in order to create a connection to the rhythms of daily life, providing family members or caregivers assurance that they are safe and sound. Because the Evermind approach is proactive, caregivers can intervene in a timely manner, before a crisis occurs. In designing Evermind, our goal was to make it technologically advanced enough for the caregivers (sending text messages or emails, and featuring an online dashboard), yet incredibly simple for the user. Simply plug our unobtrusive sensor into an electrical outlet, and then plug an appliance into our sensor. No home internet connection is required. In fact, no change is required to the person’s lifestyle where Evermind is installed.

Evermind coffeemaker

Can you add on sensors to the three? What are the three most used appliances that people connect to Evermind, or do you have suggestions?

At this time, the system doesn’t come with more than three sensors. We found that after about three appliances, users couldn’t think of a fourth or fifth that they use on a regular basis. Keeping the system at three sensors also helped us keep the price point friendly. The most common three appliances our customers choose to monitor are a coffee maker, TV, and lamp. But it really depends on each family’s unique situation. We have one family who monitors three different types of respiratory equipment. Some of the other appliances that are currently being monitored are microwave ovens, toasters, stereos, flat irons/hair dryers, washing machines, garage door openers, lift chairs, and CPAP machines. 

Are there additional features that will be added in the next year we should look forward to?

We have discussed adding the option of “a la carte” sensors to purchase for those families who may wish to add to their original set of three. We are also currently testing with other appliances, including more types of powered medical equipment, and are discovering some exciting possibilities with what our sensors are able to detect and report.

Evermind is a great option for monitoring aging parents. You can purchase the system on their site. Special thanks to Dawn White, Evermind Director of Business Development for providing insight into the company.

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