Researchers: Smartphones at least as good as digital cameras for medical teleconsultations

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 1, 2015        

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Image studySmartphone cameras are an acceptable substitute for digital cameras when conducting a medical teleconsultation, according to a researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet and Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

“Studies have shown that image-based consultation of remote experts is possible in several specialties like dermatology, plastic surgery, or burn care,” the researchers wrote in the study, which was published in the journal Telemedicine and e-Health. “However, the evidence rests predominantly on studies where photographs were taken with a digital camera, and only a few were conducted using older models of mobile phones. Against this background it appears necessary to take a closer look at the quality of pictures taken with smartphone cameras in order to determine the value of incorporating smartphones in medical practice.”

The researchers tested three smartphones, iPhone 4, Samsung’s Galaxy S2, and BlackBerry 9800, as well as a Canon digital camera. Researchers explained that they focused their research on current, but not the latest, versions of popular smartphone models because these phones are more likely to be used in resource-poor areas. These areas may also require expert consultation more often. The older smartphones, researchers explained, would also provide them with ‘’bottom line’’ results because smartphone cameras are continually improving.  Keep reading>>


SmartSpot raises $1.8M for interactive, video-based instruction in gyms

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 1, 2015        

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SmartSpot, which has developed an interactive video-based offering for gyms that instructs members how to work out properly, raised $1.85 million from Khosla Ventures and Signalfire, according to TechCrunch.

The company uses 3D cameras to analyze the way a person performs exercises, and provides near real-time feedback about how to get the most out of the exercise. The device is a fixed installation at the gym that includes a large body-sized screen. SmartSpot’s service also tracks the user’s reps and sets for weight lifting activities and keeps tabs on rests between sets.

Types of exercises that SmartSpot currently tracks include bicep curl, seated shoulder press, lunges, front squat, bent over row, and hammer curl.  Keep reading>>

Novartis launches smartwatch navigation app for the visually impaired

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 1, 2015        

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View ViaOpta Nav direction and distance promptNovartis has released a new Apple Watch and Android Wear app geared at helping visually-impaired people navigate their environment. The app is one of two Via Opta apps that have been available on the iPhone since August 2014, but a new upgrade adds additional features and brings Via Opta Nav onto a wearable for more convenient navigation.

“Novartis is committed to providing innovative solutions which go beyond medicine, like these apps for the visually impaired which benefit their daily quality of life,” David Epstein, head of the pharma division at Novartis Pharmaceuticals, said in a statement. “We are proud to contribute and play a role in making these simple and convenient tools like the ViaOpta Daily and ViaOpta Nav apps available around the world.”

Via Opta Nav provides turn-by-turn navigation instructions, similar to driving navigation apps like Google Maps. Voice guidance and vibrations alert visually impaired people to turns, intersections, and landmarks. Users can also ask the app for their exact location, add waypoints to their route, and search for nearby destinations. They can share their location with a friend or caretaker from the app. In some areas, the app can also provide information about the accessibility features nearby such as traffic lights with sound. Keep reading>>

StartUp Health: $2.8B in digital health funding so far this year

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 1, 2015        

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Investment trends in digital health companies point to increasing evidence of a maturing space, according to StartUp Health’s Midyear Report. StartUp’s figures show that overall investment tracks with the first half of 2014, but a larger percentage of deals is focused on later-stage companies.

StartUp deals by stage

So far this year, StartUp Health has reported 226 deals and a total of $2.8 billion in funding, compared to 551 deals and $6.9 billion in funding for the whole of 2014. StartUp Health uses a broad definition of digital health, which is why their funding numbers always track higher than MobiHealthNews’ figures (we have funding to date at a little over a billion) and Rock Health’s, which have yet to come out. Keep reading>>

Exclusive: Under Armour acquihires Gritness, a group workout finder app

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 1, 2015        

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GritnessAustin, Texas-based Gritness, a recent member of the StartUp Health accelerator, has been quietly acquired, StartUp Health revealed in its mid-year report. MobiHealthNews has learned that Under Armour acquired Gritness, but the acquisition price has not been disclosed. While Under Armour acquired MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal, and Endomondo for their large user base and well-known brands, Gritness is a relative newcomer. It was founded in 2012 and had raised only about $300,000 in seed funding before the deal.

MobiHealthNews has reached out to Gritness and Under Armour for comment and will update when we learn more about the deal.

The Gritness app is essentially a search engine that helps people find and join workouts. Through the app or website, users can search for workouts or find friends that have similar fitness interests. Businesses can also use Gritness to make their available fitness programs more visible.

The company contends that existing fitness apps are too individualized, whereas people can be motivated to exercise more reliably if they can become involved with group workouts happening in their area.

“Gritness was created by athletes who were fed-up with the level of effort required to get people together for a workout,” the founders write on their website, which makes no mention of the acquisition. “It always started with an email chain, that quickly got off topic, followed by text messages, phone calls, and messenger pigeons. What if we could bring it all together? What if we could make it easy to find people that want to ride as fast as you, run as far as you, and lift as heavy as you? That’s what we built Gritness for.”

The company has listed 1.5 million activities available to their users in places all over the world. As of March, co-founder Jason Whitson told MobiHealthNews in an email that Gritness supported 21 sports including cycling, running, and yoga and they’re accessible via web and mobile apps on Apple and Android.

Gritness cofounder and CEO Tommy Fad is now director of architecture and consumer engagement at Under Armour, while Whitson is now director of engineering and consumer engagement. Keep reading>>

Teladoc raises $157M in first IPO for mobile-enabled video visits

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 1, 2015        

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TeladocVideoVisitDallas, Texas-based video visits telehealth company Teladoc has raised $156.8 million in its IPO and is set to begin trading under the symbol “TDOC” on the New York Stock Exchange today. At the last minute the company increased both the price of its shares to $19 and the number of shares it was selling to 8.3 million.

In the company’s previous filing, Teladoc priced its shares between $15 and $17 and planned to sell 7 million shares.

Teladoc also previously offered its underwriters the option to purchase 1.05 million shares, but underwriters now have the option, for a period of 30 days, to purchase up to nearly 1.24 million shares of common stock. If the underwriters purchase the additional shares, the IPO’s total amount raised would hit $180.3 million.

When Teladoc debuted on the NYSE this morning it began trading at $28 a share, well above its $19 IPO price. Keep reading>>