Category Archives: health

Rubi Pregnancy Monitor at Wearable Technology Show



In my experience, expecting a new baby is a conflicting mix of emotions ranging from total joy to sheer terror…and I’m the dad. For mums-to-be there’s the extra worry from carrying the baby and 78% of women experience unhealthy levels of stress and anxiety during pregnancy. These concerns are not entirely unfounded as the risk of miscarriages and stillbirths is significant, and sadly there’s still considerable stigma associated with a failed pregnancy.

Many medical professionals recommend measuring kicks and punches after 28 weeks as a good indicator of a foetus’ relative health but there’s often natural variation and mum’s often got other things on her mind. Of course, this is where Rubi from Sensable Technnologies comes in. Rubi is a passive wearable pregnancy monitor that mum wears over her bump to automatically record kicking information. Eric and Nolan tell me more about Rubi at the Wearable Technology Show in London.

Typically Rubi records a running total for the last hour and keeps track of the last kick. The information is transmitted via Bluetooth to the parents’ smartphones and the complementary app shows the activity. If there is anything to be concerned about, the Rubi app will alert the mum and she can do a non-stress test to check.

Rubi itself uses strain gauges which are screen-printed onto the fabric to make the maternity band, and there’s a small microcontroller pod for collecting the kick data and transmitting it onwards. In addition to the maternity band, the team has produced an active tape which adheres directly to the skin.

Rubi is now live on Kickstarter with several early bird deals. Prices are slightly different from the interview but currently Rubi is priced at US$223 / GB£165 with delivery expected in February and March 2019. The active tape version will be delivered earlier at the end of 2018.

Please bear the delivery dates in mind when considering your own pregnancy as Rubi is best used from 28 weeks onwards.


Hospital VR Experience for Children at Wearable Technology Show



It’s stressful enough as an adult to go into hospital for an operation or procedure. Much as you know it’s for your own good and the doctors are there for your benefit, hospitals are still unfamiliar territory for most people and there are machines which you’re not quite to sure what they do and whether the beeping noise is normal.

Imagine how much worse it is for children when they go into hospital: they’re already unwell and in pain, and now have to cope with strangers and scary machines. It’s all very intimidating – the child will be afraid and uncooperative.

To help with this, the team at JSC have developed a game-based VR experience for children where the child is taken through a medical procedure with the help of a friendly in-game character. The child gets a 1st person view, interacting with the characters and exploring the hospital in a fun way. The child sees it as a game and enjoys the experience, instead of being afraid.

When it comes to the real thing, the VR pre-experience increases the success of the procedure, reduces the child’s stress and anxiety, and increases the active participation of the child. Currently the medical procedures include injections, blood-taking, x-ray, anaesthesia and surgery.

JSC is a South Korean company and the interview at the Wearable Technology Show took place with the assistance of a translator. I spoke with SeHwan Lee, JSC’s Chief Business Development Officer, but it’s the translator’s voice in the interview.


Digital Health London Innovates with NHS at Wearable Technology Show



The British National Health Service (NHS) is often thought of as a single organisation but it’s more of a Hydra-esque organism made of many semi-autonomous agencies each with their area of expertise and sources of funding. Consequently, it can be hard for entrepreneurs and startups to engage with the NHS – where do you start? I chat with Rose from Digital Health London, a programme aiming to speed up the development and scaling of digital innovations across health and care, and pioneer their adoption by the NHS…matching innovators with NHS need, and supporting them to navigate the UK health environment.

The Digital Health London accelerator programme works with small-to-medium companies to help these firms access NHS providers through an NHS Navigator. The Navigator is someone who has good understanding of how the NHS works and is funded, and can guide the company to make the right contacts.

The programme also provides guidance on how to work within healthcare, such as running clinic trials, patient safety and handling confidential information. Hopefully these startups can avoid some of the pitfalls seen recently with some of the larger social media companies!


Marvel-lous Massage Chairs at CES 2018



There are massage chairs and then there are BodyFriend massage chairs. With these chairs, it’s not so much getting a gentle pummelling from a recliner as putting on Iron Man’s exoskeleton with Jarvis as your masseur. Todd gets a sensational experience with Roy.

The premium BodyFriend chairs provide full body massage including shoulders, arms, waist, legs and feet, with more than a dozen massage modes (depending on model) including brain concentration and digestive massage. The brain massage uses sound waves to soothe the grey matter. There’s built-in heating, stereo speakers and Bluetooth.

Most recently, BodyFriend has partnered with Lamborghini for a new chair which is expected to ship in spring 2018. Other BodyFriend chairs are on sale now in the US with prices from US$5000 to $9000.

BodyFriend have partnered with Marvel for themed hugchairs including Spiderman and Captain America. Priced at US$1580, these are aimed at children and grown-up kids while providing a massage experience in a smaller, friendlier chair.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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Manage Diabetes with DiabiLive App at CES 2018



Diabetes is a disease that affects increasing numbers of people in developed countries where obesity, lack of exercise and genetics are causing epidemic levels of the condition. Simplistically, the pancreas becomes unable to manage blood sugar levels as it (usually) can’t to produce the right amount of insulin. Don and Nicholas discuss the problems facing diabetics and how DiabiLive‘s new app can help manage the disease.

Winner of a CES Innovation Award, DiabiLive have a developed a smartphone app which calculates the correct amount of insulin to inject based on three parameters (physical activity, diet, sugar level). In addition, the app plans ahead based on past history to warn of possible low sugar levels.

The app’s algorithms are based on medical science and protocols: the app is awaiting FDA approval, hopefully within 2018.

Don Baine is the Gadget Professor and gives lectures at TheGadgetProfessor.com.

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Help with Mental Health from HabitAware at CES 2018



Often there can be no outward signs of mental health illness but some people exhibit unhealthy behaviours such as hair pulling, skin picking and nail biting. The team at HabitAware are helping address these physical symptoms of mental health issues with a wearable device that picks up on these cues. Allante tries it out with Aneela.

The HabitAware Keen is a wrist-worn wearable that’s very similar in style to a fitness tracker. The Keen uses gesture-detection technology to recognise when the wearer is engaging in behaviours associated with poor mental health. For most people, biting their nails is just a bad habit, but for many with mental health issues, it’s a symptom of something much more serious.

The way Keen works is by initially training the device to recognise problem behaviours. Using a smartphone app (iOS and Android), the wearer replicates his or her behaviours for a short period. So if it’s hair-pulling, this is simulated for around 15 to 20 seconds. Once Keen has been trained, it vibrates when the behaviour is detected and alerts the wearer to their subconscious habit. The wearer can make the decision to stop and overtime, retrains the brain away from negative behaviours.

The Keen bracelet is available now from HabitAware priced from US$149.

Allante Sparks is a video producer at PLuGHiTz Live Special Events.

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Mira Fertility Helps Start a Family at CES 2018



Kicking off a range of smart hormone health care products, Mira Fertility helps couples maximise their chances of conceiving by measuring daily hormone levels. Four times dad Todd learns about the product and future plans from Yazan of Miracare.

The Mira Fertility analyser measures the levels of hormones in urine to provide insights into fertility levels to help couples conceive. Like a pregnancy test, the woman pees on a “fertility wand” which is then placed in the Mira for analysis. The information is transmitted via Bluetooth to the Mira app on a smartphone, which uses machine learning to analyse the data and predict the best opportunities for conception. The app shows graphs and other data that can be useful for a couple wanting to have a baby.

The Mira Fertility Analyser is expected in Q2 2018, priced under US$200.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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Just a Drop of Blood with Apollo Medical Devices at CES 2018



With the advances in medical sciences and technology, there’s often no longer the need to “Send it to the lab, stat!” to get up-to-date info on blood chemistry. Soon, readings will be given at point of care in a few minutes, if not seconds. Todd consults with Brian on their latest blood diagnostic device.

Apollo Medical Devices has been working with Case Western Reserve University in Ohio to develop a point of care blood diagnostic unit that uses a drop of blood to give information in seconds on eight key indicators such as sodium, potassium, pH and blood oxygen.

The new devices should be in production with 12-18 months and cost will be in line with industry norms for the test.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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Kolibree’s Magik Toothbrush Brings AR to Brushing at CES 2018



Tooth decay is the most prevalent chronic disease in children and it can easily be prevented by regular and effective brushing. Getting children to brush is another matter entirely but French firm Kolibree are looking to gamification and augmented reality to get children excited about brushing. Todd finds out what is like to interview Arthur with a toothbrush in his mouth.

Kolibree’s Magik toothbrush plays an augmented reality game where the children defeat evil cavity monsters by attacking them with their toothbrush. Using a smartphone or tablet, the child sees themselves in a “magic mirror” and fight boss monsters to win superpower masks. At the end of a brushing session, the app shows the child and parent how well they’ve brushed and any areas missed.

The Magik brush is expected in Q3 2018 and Kolibree is looking to price it at under US$30. Sign up at Kolibree to hear when it’s ready to buy.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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Petrics Helps Owners Shed Pet Pounds at CES 2018



Just as in humans, obesity in cats and dogs brings health issues like diabetes and heart disease. Over half of the pets in American households are overweight and this reduces their life expectancy by several years. Petrics want to help owners spend less time managing their pets and more time loving them with a couple of new products aimed at reducing obesity. No treats for Todd from Edward.

Winners of two CES Innovation awards, Petrics are coming at the problem from two fronts. First Petrics have a Health & Nutrition application which records the animal’s food and exercise, but also guides the owner towards appropriate meal choices for their pet. Second, Petrics are launching a smart pet bed which works with an activity tracker to measure pet exercise and weight. This will pass information to the Health & Nutrition app, giving the owner current and historical information about their animal’s condition to see if new regimes are having the right impact.

The app and bed will be coming to the market early in 2018, priced at US$100-$300 depending on the size of the bed.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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