Tag Archives: Health

How Fresh is Your Air?



I’m lucky enough to live in a small commuter village here in Northern Ireland. If I look out my window, I can see cows munching the grass in a neighbouring field. Many people aren’t this fortunate, and live close to major roads with higher levels of pollution. I think we’re all aware of the increase in asthma and allergies in the past few decades too, and around 5 million people in the UK suffer from various levels of asthma.

And unless fumes are pouring out of an exhaust, most air pollution is invisible to the eye and odourless to the nose. It’s very difficult for us to assess how bad the air quality is in our own homes, even subjectively. For a more objective view the Foobot smart indoor air quality monitor can assess the indoor air and pass the data to its complementary app.

The Foobot is a semi-cylindrical gadget a little taller than a smart phone (17 cm), with what looks like an air vent on top. At first glance it could be mistaken for a smart home hub, but the Foobot has sophisticated sensors to measure gases and chemicals in the air. The Foobot glows blue when air quality is good and turns orange if it becomes poor. In particular, the Foobot measures:

  • VOCs – Volatile Organic Compounds, which are toxic gases like ammonia and formaldehyde
  • PM2.5s – Particulate Matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres, like dust, pollen and pet dander
  • Carbon Monoxide, which can be deadly as it binds irreversibly with the haemoglobin in the blood
  • Humidity. High humidity can lead to damp and low humidity is an irritation
  • Temperature

The Foobot can also assess carbon dioxide, but this is derived from other figures – there’s no CO2 sensor. Full specs on the Foobot are here.

As a smart device, the Foobot integrates with other smart home solutions, from Google Nest to Amazon Echo, and with the help of IFTTT, Foobot can also connect to over 120 home appliances, including Hive, the connected thermostat from British Gas. Simplistically, if Foobot detects that the room air quality is becoming poor, then an extractor fan or air conditioner can be turned on to refresh the air. The Foobot itself connects via WiFi and the Foobot app is available for both iOS and Android.

The Foobot is manufactured by AirBoxLab, a Luxembourg-based startup founded by CEO Jacques Touillon, whose son suffered from asthma. Back in 2014 it was an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, formerly called Alima.

I think the Foobot is a good idea, especially if you do have family members who suffer from conditions that respond to air quality. The saying goes, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”. The Foobot can provide that measurement to help manage the local environment, and hopefully provide relief to sufferers.

The Foobot is available now in US, Canada, Europe and Australia, priced at US$199, GB£170, €199.


Personalised Packets for Pills



As with much of the developed world, life expectancy in the Northern Ireland has increased considerably in the last few decades. With this growth, people are now living with long-term medical conditions. For those 60-69 years old, more than 50% of the population will have at least one medical condition. For 70-79 years old, 50% will have two or more medical problems. We might be living longer, but we’re sicker.

Medication can help with many conditions, but medicine only works if it’s taken and multiple conditions can lead to a bewildering array of pills that need to be taken on a schedule. Trays with Monday-Sunday and am/pm can help but it’s all too easy to make a mistake.

PillPacPlus provide a service that helps with this increasing problem. Instead of giving people many boxes with each box containing a single drug, pharmacies can now dispense medications in sachets, with each one containing all the drugs to be taken at a time. Each sachet on the roll is labelled with the time and date, and this makes it perfectly clear to the patient what has to be taken and when.

For those with dementia, even pre-labelled sachets can be a struggle. To help further, the sachet rolls can be loaded into a dispensing machine (Evondos E300) that is programmed with the schedule. If the patient forgets to take the medication, the machine sounds an alarm to alert him or her. If this doesn’t work, the machine can alert pharmacists and carers about the problem.

It’s all aimed at making sure that the right medication is taken at the right time to manage those long-term conditions. To find out more, I interviewed Lindsay and Sara from PillPacPlus at NICON17. Listen below.


JAM Card Gives People Time



It’s a fast paced world out there and you need all your faculties to keep up. Take too long, and it’s “Next please!” while you’re still standing there. Imagine how much more difficult it is if you do have a learning disability or condition such as Asperger’s and you just need a little more time.

To help people in this situation, the NOW Group has created an app that asks people for “Just A Minute”. The JAM Card app shows staff in retail outlets, transport and other areas of public life that the person needs “Just A Minute” of patience and time when interacting with them.

The smartphone app is based on the original concept of a plastic card and was the idea of people with a disability who said they often felt under pressure when they were out and about in everyday life. They wanted a discreet way of letting people know that they needed a little extra time.

The app is available for both Android and iOS (search for “JAM Card”). At present the app only caters for four specific conditions though they hope to extend it to more over time. The app also allows users to score retail stores and transportation for their helpfulness towards people with disabilities.

For more information, listen to my interview with NOW Group’s Jayne at NICON 17.  If you like what the NOW Group are doing here, you can vote for them over at Digital DNA and help them become a partner charity.


Owlet Smart Sock for Sleeping Babies at CES



The technology to measure physiology is becoming commonplace: any smart watch worthy of the name can record heart rate. The trick now is to incorporate these sensors into other useful gadgets. A good example here is the Owlet Smart Sock which brings reassurance to parents that their baby is sleeping normally.

The Owlet Smart Sock monitors a baby’s heart rate and blood oxygen, alerting parents or carers if either measurement causes concern. The Owlet Smart Sock system has three components; the smart sock or bootie which is worn by the baby on its foot, a monitoring unit and the companion app. The bootie communicates with the monitoring unit via Bluetooth and if there is a problem, parents are notified by visual and audible alerts on the Owlet unit and smartphone(s).

The app is available for both iOS and Android but check compatibility before buying.

The Owlet Smart Sock is available now for $249 direct from Owlet.

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

Become a GNC Insider today!

Support my CES 2017 Sponsor:
30% off on New GoDaddy Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 for a New or Transferred .com cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain. Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
$1.00 / mo Managed WordPress Hosting with free Domain. Promo Code: cjcgncwp1


TytoCare Telehealth at CES Keeps Sick Kids at Home



Parents around the world will recognise the perennial problem of taking their child to the doctor for relatively minor ailments simply to get prescription or medication. The kid just wants to be wrapped up in bed watching TV but they’ve to be dragged down to the doctor for 2 minute exam to confirm it’s nothing to worry about. TytoCare have a brilliant solution in the shape of the TytoHome telehealth and remote examination kit. Todd finds out more from Dedi Gilad.

The TytoCare system is a hand-sized unit with a small screen which has icons for the body area to be checked – nose, ears, heart, lungs, temperature. The device uses a selection of interchangeable sensors which are shaped appropriately and are plugged into the rear of the unit.

The device combines a number of medical instruments, including

  • a high resolution video and still camera
  • an infrared forehead thermometer
  • an otoscope for the ear
  • stethoscope for the heart and lungs
  • tongue depressor for the mouth and throat

The TytoHome connects via Bluetooth to any smartphone and the complementary app demonstrates and guides the owner in the use of the device. The collected data is either recorded for later review or on online consultation can be started with a healthcare provider, sending data back to the clinician during the discussion.

The TytoHome is expected to retail at US$299 when it comes to market. There are enhanced versions for professional use (TytoPro and TytoClinic).

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

Become a GNC Insider today!

Support my CES 2017 Sponsor:
30% off on New GoDaddy Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 for a New or Transferred .com cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain. Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
$1.00 / mo Managed WordPress Hosting with free Domain. Promo Code: cjcgncwp1


Fall Asleep Effortlessly with 2breathe at CES



Getting enough sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle but for some people the problem isn’t just about getting into bed early enough, it’s about falling asleep. Israeli firm 2breathe has developed a smart sensor and complementary app to help those who have difficulty nodding off. Todd relaxes with Erez.

2breathe is a guided breathing system that uses a body-worn sensor to read the breaths in and out. The app records the breathing rate and then using softly-spoken instructions and gentle music, gradually reduces the breathing speed of the wearer. As the breathing rate slows, the soon-to-be-sleeper will get drowsy and fall asleep. In the morning, the app produces a session report, showing the time to snooze and breathing patterns.

The CES Innovation committee though this was a good idea too, awarding 2breathe a CES Honoree Innovation Award.

2breathe is available now for US$179, either direct from 2breathe or other major online retailers. It’s currently only available for Apple iOS devices.

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

Become a GNC Insider today!

Support my CES 2017 Sponsor:
30% off on New GoDaddy Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 for a New or Transferred .com cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain. Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
$1.00 / mo Managed WordPress Hosting with free Domain. Promo Code: cjcgncwp1


Thumbs Up for Fitbit



Fitbit LogoAll too often we hear stories of poor customer service so I want to give some props to Fitbit who replaced my Flex with no fuss or special blogger treatment. Here’s how it went down….

Faulty Fitbit FlexI’ve had a Fitbit Flex for nearly two years and it’s one of my favourites as it’s waterproof and I wear it while swimming. A couple of months ago the middle LED stopped working and last week another one seemed to stop. All other functions worked fine, so the Flex was still counting steps and syncing to my Fitbit app. In reality the fault was largely cosmetic.

Still, I decided to contact Fitbit’s customer services via email. I paraphrase each message.

2016-11-03-16-22-56Me: I’m having trouble with the LEDs on my Flex dying one by one. See photo.
Fitbit: Ok. I see that. Could you try resetting the Flex followed by a full charge.
Me: I’ve done that and yes, one of the LEDs is now working but the middle one still isn’t. See new photo.
Fitbit: Ok, I see that it’s still not working. When and where did you get the Flex?
Me: I got it in November 2014 and here are the details.
Fitbit: No problem, that’s fine. We’re going to send a replacement. What’s your address?
Me: Thanks. Here’s my address.
Fitbit: The replacement Flex is on its way.
Me: Thanks again.

And sure enough, the replacement Fitbit Flex arrived in the post yesterday. All the LEDs work fine.

Reviewing the email exchange, it really couldn’t have been sorted it out in anything less. A big thumbs up to Fitbit for sorting it out easily and painlessly.


Fitbit ChargeHR Review



On review here is Fitbit’s ChargeHR activity tracker, one of its most popular models which provides heart rate monitoring in addition to steps taken, calories burnt and eyes shut. Designed for “active fitness”, it’s aimed at those people who take control of their fitness level rather than simply walking 10,000 steps. That’s me then. On a good day. Let’s take a look.

You can watch the unboxing and setup video above, though what you don’t see is that I completely destroyed the box getting the tracker and accessories out because you’re supposed to open the bottom not the top. Doh! Fitbit, you need “Open other end” printed on the top. Inside the box is the Fitbit ChargeHR, a Bluetooth dongle, a charging cable and small instruction booklet that directs you to the Fitbit site for more information. The dongle is only required for syncing to a PC.

Fitbit Charge HR box

 

The ChargeHR is available in six colours; black, blue, teal, plum, tangerine and pink. As you’ll see from the pictures, I had the teal one, which was fine when I was exercising but I did feel a little self-conscious wearing it with a suit at work. Unlike the Alta and Flex range, Fitbit Charge HR stepsthere’s no switching round of bands, so buy a colour you’re comfortable with. The ChargeHR band comes in three sizes, small, large and extra large, though the XL size can only be bought through fitbit.com. Small is 13.7 cm–15.7 cm, large is 15.7 cm–19.3 cm and extra-large is19.3 cm–22.1 cm. Fitbit provide a handy sizing chart here. The ChargeHR has a proper watch-style buckle for the band, rather than the push through style of the Flex.

Getting started is easy. Charge the ChargeHR with the supplied cable, install the app on a smartphone or tablet, register if you aren’t already with Fitbit, follow the pairing instructions and job done. Now all you have to do is some exercise!

The ChargeHR is a extremely easy to use as there’s only one button which is situated on the left side of the unit. Pressing the button cycles through time, steps, heart rate, distance, calories, stories climbed and next alarm. For each statistics, there’s a little graphic followed by the number – footprints for steps, a heart for pulse and so on.

The main differentiator of the ChargeHR is the heart rate tracking. I don’t know much about the science but it appears to use a couple of greenish LEDs on the back of device to measure the pulse. The ChargeHR measures the pulse every second under normal circumstances, but when it detects exercise, it ups the data rate for real-time information so you can keep your pulse in the zone.

The charging port is visible on the back in the picture. Charging typically takes less than hour for a couple of days wear.

Fitbit Charge HR sensors

Clever as the ChargeHR is, it’s only once you start looking at the data generated that you really start to get benefit from the tracker. The Fitbit app can provide graphs and charts for most metrics. Here are a few showing steps, resting heart rate and sleep. I didn’t wear the ChargeHR every night, hence why there’s some missing data. Activity can be reviewed, giving heart rate zones – peak, cardio, fat burning – exercise duration and max heart rate. There’s lots of useful info.

Fitbit Steps Fitbit HR Fitbit Sleep

If you’re using a PC rather than a smartphone or tablet, Fitbit provide a web-based portal that provides similar information and analysis. For the really serious fitness fans, $50 per annum gets Premium privileges and extra analysis (which I didn’t investigate).

The ChargeHR does vibrating alarms too which is very handy if you need to get up without your bedside alarm waking your significant other. The alarm is set via the app and then sync’d to the tracker. I like this, though it’s not exclusive to the ChargeHR.

As expected in this day and age, there’s a social element too. You can add friends who also have Fitbits (of whatever variety) and see a leaderboard of steps taken each week. You can also earn badges for steps taken per day and lifetime achievements – I’ve a Nile badge for 6,649 lifetime kilometres.

I’ve had the ChargeHR for a couple of weeks now and I’ve been wearing it as much as I can. Sometimes I have to wear my Fitbit Zip on my belt when a teal bracelet wouldn’t be appropriate. Fortunately the Fitbit app (at least on Android) allows cross-syncing, so if you do 1,000 steps on one device and 1,000 on another, both will show 2,000 after a sync (or two). I like that feature as it lets me wear the Fitbit that suits my day.

Overall, I feel Fitbit have slightly stolen my thunder here, as the ChargeHR is being phased out and replaced by the Charge 2, but this could be an opportunity to get an excellent tracker for less money. Although officially priced at a penny under GB£120, it’s widely available for £89.99, even in shops such as PC World. The Charge 2 is currently £129.99, so there’s an effective saving of £40.

Thanks to Fitbit for supplying the ChargeHR for review.


Azoi Kito+ Health Tracker Review



Kito+ logoAfter interviewing Azoi at Gadget Show Live, the team there sent me a Kito+ to review. I’ve been using it to check my vital signs over the past few weeks. If you didn’t read or listen to the original interview, the Kito+ is a credit-card sized health tracker that measures heart rate (pulse), respiration rate (breathing), blood oxygen, skin temperature and ECG.

Kito+ Box

The Kito+ sends all the data via Bluetooth to a nearby smartphone or tablet which displays the readings in real-time.  It’s even more impressive when you consider the Kito+ costs GB£100 (around US$140). The Kito+ can work as a standalone device with both Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, or it can be embedded into a case for the iPhone 6 series of phones from Apple. Let’s take a look.

Kito+ In Box

The box opens up to show the Kito+ on the left with the iPhone cases and charging adapter on the right. Beneath the lids are instructions and a USB cable. There are two sizes of iPhone 6 case included, one for the standard iPhone 6 and one for the Plus versions. The magnetic charging adapter snaps into place and the micro-USB cable powers it up. Fully charged, the Kito+ is good for a whole month of tests.

Kito+

Turning to the Kito+ itself, it’s flat on one side with the sensors and buttons on the other. There are four sensors, an “on” button and two contacts for the charging adapter. The Kito+ is easy to use – simply hold in two hands with thumbs on the flat side, forefingers on the big shiny metal sensors and index fingers on the lower two smaller sensors.

As mentioned earlier, the Kito+ sends data to an app for processing, display and recording. It’s a straightforward app without too many bells and whistles, but it does have some good touches, such as being able to email your data to a doctor or physician.

When starting the app, you can either login to track your stats over time or you can go without a login, which is handy if you want a friend to try the Kito+. Once in, the next step is to press a small button on the Kito+ to prep the link between it and the smartphone. I found that occasionally this step didn’t always work but turning Bluetooth off and on again usually resolved it.

When successfully connected up, the smartphone shows how to hold the Kito+ and then moves into the measuring mode. This shows a real-time ECG graph and other figures as they are acquired over around 30 seconds. When the measuring phase is done, you can review your vital statistics.

Azoi Kito+ ReadingsAzoi Kito+ ECG

I can’t comment on the accuracy of the figures or the ECG but they seemed to be in the ballpark when I tried to measure my own heart and respiration rate. The blood oxygen measurement didn’t always succeed and it seemed very dependent on correct positioning of fingers and no movement during the test period. However, all the other measurements recorded correctly every time and I never had any figures that were so outlandish as to be unbelievable.

If you are logged into the app as an individual , the data is saved against the date and you can review your historical measurements if desired.

Azoi Kito+

Overall, I think the Azoi Kito+ is a great little device, especially considering the price (GB£100). I can see a number of potential users, from athletes and sportsman, or people who have a heart condition that can use the Kito+ under the guidance of a physician. I’m not medically trained so any docs who read GNC should chip in with comments on their view of the Kito+ and its potential.

For a full unboxing and demo run, there’s a video below. Thanks to Azoi for supplying the Kito+ for review.

 


Azoi Kito+ Health Tracker at Gadget Show Live



kito_homepageOnly a slightly bigger than a credit card, the Azoi Kito+ is a personal health tracking device that measures ECG, heart rate (pulse), blood oxygen, skin temperature and respiration rate. I’ve seen the Kito tracker a couple of times now and every time I see it, I’m impressed that such a small device can gather so much data for so little money (GB£99). Miran from Azoi tells me more at Gadget Show Live.

The Kito+ works in conjunction with a smartphone or tablet to measure the five stats mentioned earlier. The user holds the Kito+ with both hands and two fingers from each hand rest on four measurement points for about 20 seconds, during which the time the Kito+ records the data and passes it on to the Kito app. In real-time the app shows the ECG graph trace and other figures are shown once they’ve stabilised.

Azoi Kito+

As can be seen from the picture, the Kito+ can be embedded into phone cases for the Apple iPhone 6-series of smartphone cases. It’s not essential and the Kito+ works fine outside of a case with Android or other Apple devices. The Kito+ isn’t tied to one person, so a whole family can share the unit.

The Kito+ is available now from Azoi’s webstore for GB£99, which I think is great value when you think of the technology and potential value of the data. I’ll be bringing a full review of the Azoi Kito+ to GNC in the next few weeks.