Tag Archives: Health

Skin Care Gets Smart with HiMirror



HiMirror‘s range of smart mirrors aim to be “your at-home beauty and health consultant”, and use high resolution digital cameras to record and assess skin condition including wrinkles, fine lines, clarity, dark circles, dark spots, red spots and pores to both identify problem areas and track improvement. Simply, the smart mirror takes a picture of the face, analyses it and recommends personal skincare routines to help improve skin quality.

Combined with a database of over 10,000 skincare products, the HiMirror measures and tracks product performance through changes to skin condition. With objective data, it’s now possible to work out which skincare products and routines actually make a difference to the skin, and those that don’t. Using “big data”, the system has been developed in conjunction with professional consultants in the fields of dermatology, cosmetics, skincare and medical beauty, and HiMirror have won awards at CES in both 2017 and 2018.

The device is a mirror with a flat screen display behind it, which lets the HiMirror interact with the user to show skincare information and videos. The HiMirror responds to both voice and gestures, and there’s a handheld remote control too. No self-respecting smart mirror would be without a digital assistant and Alexa is built-in.

Announced at IFA today, HiMirror has a couple of new models, including one smaller version and two aimed at the professional beautician.

The HiMirror Mini Premium is a compact model with a 13″ x 9″  touch screen for easy navigation. As with other HiMirrors, it can analyse skin and offer personalised skincare recommendations. Other features includes Skin Safe which spots allergens in health products and it also provides help with applying makeup for different light levels, such as dimly lit restaurants or brightly lit offices. HiMirror Mini Premium will be available to pre-order from the HiMirror website from 31st August 2018, with products shipping in November. UK price is GB£239.

On the commercial side the Enterprise Lite and Enterprise Pro will be joining the HiMirror line-up shortly. These models are aimed at beauty professionals and beauty salons as these mirrors can have unlimited accounts or profiles. With one profile for each client, historical data and photos can be stored individually to track progress over time.

I particularly like the HiMirror Mini Premium and I can see it being a popular choice in the smaller size. Perfect for dressing tables….


Activinsights Measures Health at Wearable Technology Show



Activity trackers with built-in heart rate monitors are incredible pieces of technology. Sophisticated electronics crammed into a tiny space at relatively inexpensive cost and generating vast swathes of data. Fantastic as these devices are, they’re aimed squarely at consumers. There’s no guarantee that a thousand steps is a thousand steps.

For medical applications, a validated wearable is required and these devices have gone through rigorous research programmes to ensure that they work within a confirmed margin of error. British firm Activinsights manufacture their own wrist wearables for medical and healthcare professionals to use with with patients and clients.  In the interview, Stephanie from Activinsights tells me how their wearables differ from the consumer market. For starters, some of them have a year-long battery life.

With a range of devices for different scenarios, detailed information is collected and subsequently downloaded for analysis. Activinsights’ analytic tools can assess the data to provide lifestyle recommendations for long-term prevention but can also identify when the wearer’s condition is deteriorating. Many physical manifestations can be indicators of serious medical conditions, so it’s worth keeping track of activity over extended periods to help make a diagnosis.

The devices are available now with prices from around GB£260.


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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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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Audeara “Hearing Test” Headphones at CES 2018



We’ve covered Audeara’s headphones on GNC before but they’re so interesting that they’re worth a second shout as it’s CES and all manner of advanced technology is on show.

Audeara are the world’s first full fidelity headphones with an built-in hearing test to protect user’s ears and deliver a completely personalised listening experience.

Everyone has a degree of hearing loss. Not just as a result of every loud gig they’ve been to, every busy street they’ve walked down, or every police siren that’s ever gone past but also damage can be sustained purely by listening to their headphones too loud. More and more young people have some loss of hearing, with an increasing number with the same hearing health usually associated with a 60 year old.

Audeara headphones can be used to test and retest hearing over a lifetime and adapt music to the user’s individual needs. They make music better, not louder, and provide perfect sound as it’s personalised for each person’s hearing. The first time the headphones are worn, the user undertakes a hearing test – the results of which, are subsequently stored in the headphones themselves. The headphones use this hearing profile to adjust the sound signal as it passes through them. They adjust the right ear differently from the left, making sure each part of the signal reaches the user’s brain in a way that’s heard as a perfect reflection of the intended signal.

What makes the Audeara headphones especially powerful is that all the technology is inside the headphones themselves. After the first test, the app isn’t required again unless the user wants to retest. This means headphones are no longer passive magnets for signal conversion, instead, they’re sophisticated tools for personalised sound reproduction.

The A-01 headphones are on pre-sale for AU$399 (that’s Australian dollars) with delivery expected in February 2018.

There’s video explaining the technology here.


How Good Is Your Air? Foobot Knows



While air is all around us, colourless and odourless, we often seek a semi-mythical fresh air; at the seaside, in a spring meadow, after rain on a summer’s day, on crisp winter morning. We all have our favourite. On the other hand, bad air can be difficulty to identify too. Unless there’s mould on the wall or the smell of fresh paint, many pollutants are invisible too.

Around 5 million people in the UK suffer from various levels of asthma and for people with this condition, air quality can be an important factor in their quality of life. This was a reality for Jacques Touillon, whose son suffered from asthma. Back in 2014, he started a successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for an indoor air quality monitor called Foobot (formerly Alima) and now the Foobot is available for sale in North America, Europe and Australia. Let’s take a look.

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. It’s not dissimilar to an Amazon Echo, only a little shorter. Unlike the Echo, the Foobot has sophisticated sensors to measure gases and chemicals in the air, glowing blue when air quality is good and orange when 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

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. Of course, there’s a complementary smartphone app for iOS and Android that shows both real-time and historical information.

Powered by a USB charger, the Foobot connects via wifi and the setup procedure is very straightforward, using the clever trick of turning the Foobot upside down to initiate the start up procedure. The app then gets the wifi connection established, owner’s account set up, timezone confirmed, room location set, Celsius v Fahrenheit chosen. All exactly what you’d expect from an indoor air quality monitor.

What you might not expect is that the Foobot takes about a week to calibrate the sensors and settle down. Until this happens, there are warnings about the inaccuracy of the readings and some app features like notifications and alerts are unavailable until the bedding in period is complete.

Although light on the detail, the Foobot does colour itself to express air quality based on the GPI – the Global Pollution Index. Information on how it’s calculated is a little sparse though apparently it’s “a weighted compound of the different pollutants measured by Foobot“. Smaller is better, so less than 25 is great, 25-50 is good, 50-75 is fair and 75+ is poor (just move out). The Foobot will glow blue for great and good, and orange for a GPI over 50. The length of the lights is an indicator for how good or bad the GPI is.

The Foobot glows lilac if you disturb it by rocking or tapping it. The smartphone app will register and notify on the disturbance too. They’re called “knock knock” notifications and Foobot suggests they could be used to tell a parent that a child is home safe.

The really juicy stuff is in the smartphone app which is a free download from the relevant app store. To start with, the colour of the app will mimic the Foobot but more detail on the level of Particulate Matter, Volatile Compounds and Carbon Dioxide is available.  Humidity and Temperature are shown too. A couple of different views present the information in varying levels of detail.

 

Swiping up from the bottom shows historical information and swiping left or right moves between the measures. The information is presented by minutes, hours, days or weeks.

  

The Foobot app supports notifications and if any threshold is breached, sends the app a notfication. Notifications can be individually controlled but the thresholds seem fixed. Here in Northern Ireland it’s fairly damp much of time so the default 60% humidity threshold meant that I got lots of notifications. I turned it off.

Along with the notification, Foobot asks for clarification on what you think might have caused the peak and offers the choice of things like cleaning and cooking. One curious option is “olfactive decorator” which I think translates to “smelly paint”.

What surprised me was how much air quality was affected by people being around. The graph on the right shows a day where there was no-one home between 9-5 and we got an early night. During the day and night, the GPI drops to less than ten when there’s no-one about, but jumps up as soon as someone’s home.

The Foobot app has a couple of other settings. The intensity of the LEDs can be adjusted and the LEDs can be put on a timer so that if the Foobot is in, say, a bedroom, they can be timed to go off at night.

As a smart device, the Foobot can be integrated with other smart home systems to do clever things. There is official integration with Alexa but at the moment it’s limited to asking Foobot for an air quality summary (GPI), and turning the Foobot’s lights on or off. You can’t get specifics of temperature, humidity, VOC or particulates.  On the other hand, you can unofficially integrate Foobot with Samsung SmartThings to get this information – see left. There’s integration too with Nest and Lux thermostats from within the Foobot app: I don’t have either of those so couldn’t test further. At a higher level, there’s integration with IFTTT so there’s plenty of options there too. If air quality poor, turn up the ventilation….

What improvements would I like? Two things come to mind….one, for the alert thresholds to be adjustable to allow for damp countries and, second, for there to be a specific detection and alert for carbon monoxide (CO) with the option of alerting multiple people should it be sensed. CO is a dangerous poisonous gas produced by burning gas, wood, propane, charcoal or other fuel that kills people in their sleep. I have a gas-burning stove in my home so I’m always conscious of this risk (yes, I have a CO-detector).

Overall, the Foobot does what it sets out to do – it measures indoor air quality – and if you do have a family member who suffers from a condition affected by air quality I think the Foobot is money well spent. I’ve had the Foobot operational in my home for about two months over the summer and I can already see trends associated with weather and indoor activity such as cooking (or burning!). If you are then able to match trends to symptoms, you are well on the way to better managing the medical condition.

Other scenarios might be if you lived near a busy road or a factory, and were concerned about pollution, or even to keep an eye on an elderly relative without going for the complexity of a whole smart home. The relative could “knock knock” every now and then, and you could make sure he or she is warm enough and not skimping on the heating. Just a thought…

I can’t comment on the accuracy of the VOC and particulate figures, but the humidity and temperature measurements were very similar to the values recorded by other smart sensors. Further, the general trends appeared to be correct – people in the room, vacuuming, opening windows, cooking – all impacted as expected on the measurements, so broadly I believe the figures are correct.

The Foobot is available direct from their website priced at US$199 and EU€199. The Foobot is on Amazon.co.uk too for GB£179.

Thanks to Foobot for supplying the unit for review. There’s an unboxing and review video below.