Microsoft updates Band with biking tracker, online dashboard, SDK

By: Aditi Pai | Feb 24, 2015        

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Microsoft BandMicrosoft has updated its wristworn fitness tracker, called Microsoft Band with new functionality to track cycling and an SDK for Windows and Android phones. The company says iOS integration is coming soon.

Microsoft also launched an online dashboard to track health that it first unveiled in October 2014 when the company launched the Microsoft Band.

The wristworn wearable, a small, plastic, black band with a long screen, looks similar to the Nike FuelBand or the Samsung Gear Fit. Microsoft Band offers a 24-hour heart rate monitor that tracks heart rate during exercise to help users understand how many calories they’ve burned, but also during sleep to understand sleep patterns.

It also tracks steps, calories, additional sleep data, and interestingly, the watch offers a UV monitor so users can keep track of the UV index when they are out in the sun. The smartwatch’s other features include call notifications, calendar alerts, a timer and alarm, and — if users have Windows 8.1 on their smartphone — access to Microsoft’s intelligent assistant, Cortana. Microsoft calls the different apps and features on the Band “tiles”.

When users choose the Bike Tile, their heart rate sensor is optimized for their biking activities. For outdoor rides, the band will also track speed, distance, and elevation. The band helps users track their current and average biking speeds, review their custom splits for longer bike rides, and view an estimate for how long it would take their body to recover from the ride. The tile also offers new five indoor biking workouts: Indoor Bike Tabata Sprints, Indoor Bike Hour of Sweat, Indoor Bike Total Body, Indoor Bike Pyramid, and Indoor Bike Intervals.

Microsoft first started adding guided workouts in a firmware update last month.

With the addition of the SDK, developers can now integrate different metrics that the Microsoft Band collects, including heart rate, UV, accelerometer, gyroscope, and skin temperature, into their apps.

And as expected,  Microsoft Health’s web portal connects to MapMyFitness and Microsoft HealthVault, which brings in data from other health trackers like blood glucose monitors, electronic scales, and activity and medical monitors.


FTC fines two melanoma risk detection apps, MelApp and Mole Detective

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 23, 2015        

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Mole DetectiveThe Federal Trade Commission has taken action against two melanoma detection apps: MelApp and Mole Detective. Some of the marketers behind the apps have agreed to settle with the FTC, while two additional marketers of Mole Detective have refused. Total settlements for the two apps came to just north of $20,000. Both apps claim to provide an “automated analysis of moles and skin lesions for symptoms of melanoma and increase consumers’ chances of detecting melanoma in its early stages”, according to the FTC.

This move was not unprecedented. In 2011 the FTC took similar action against two acne apps.

Here’s how the FTC summed up each of the melanoma app’s claims:

Advertising for MelApp stated that it used “patent protected state-of-the-art mathematical algorithms and image-based pattern recognition technology to analyze the uploaded image [of a skin lesion],” to “provide a risk analysis of the uploaded picture being a melanoma” and “assist in the early detection of melanoma.”2 Advertising for Mole Detective stated that it “is the first and only app to calculate symptoms of melanoma right on the phone,” and that it could “analyze your mole using the dermatologist ABCDE method and give you a risk factor based on the symptoms your mole may or may not be showing,” “increase the chance of detecting skin cancer in early stages,” and “save lives through the early detection of potentially fatal melanoma,” using “shape recognition software.”

Mole Detective was first developed by Kristi Kimball and her company, New Consumer Solutions in January 2012, according to the FTC. In August of that year, UK-based Avrom “Avi” Lasarow and his company, L Health, took over the app. The app cost as much as $4.99 at one time. Kimball and her company agreed to settle and will pay $3,930. Lasarow refused so the agency is pursuing litigation against him and his company.  Keep reading>>

What happens when an FDA-cleared app gets “recalled”?

By: Jonah Comstock | Feb 23, 2015        

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AliveCor Heart MonitorAliveCor recalled Version 2.1.2 of its AliveECG iOS app under an FDA Class III recall according to an FDA posting that went up this month. But in actuality, the “recall,” which happened in mid-January, was little more than a run-of-the-mill buggy app update, which the company patched within two days.

“If you read the definitions of recall, if you, as a manufacturer of medical devices, place a product on the market that does not meet its design intent, that doesn’t function as intended, then you remove that device from the market, that’s a recall,” Albert Boniske, Director of Regulatory Affairs at AliveCor, told MobiHealthNews. “In this case, we didn’t ship any products. We put an app into the AppStore that had a bug in it that was not identified during QA, that caused the app to crash. … We immediately pulled that down and we re-uploaded another one.” Keep reading>>

With an eye on clinicians, Atheer Labs raises $8.8M for augmented reality glasses

By: Aditi Pai | Feb 23, 2015        

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Atheer LabsMountain View, California-based Atheer Labs, maker of an augmented reality headset that it is working to get into the hands of clinicians (among others), raised $8.8 million in equity, options, and securities, according to an SEC filing.

Streamlined Ventures Founder Ullas Naik was listed on the SEC filing, though he is not listed on Atheer Labs’ board or among its advisors. This suggests Streamlined Ventures may have invested in this round. Atheer Labs CEO Alberto Torres was the former SVP of mobility for Hewlett-Packard.

Atheer Labs has developed an augmented interactive reality, or AiR, platform. The company’s gesture-controlled platform includes a pair of smart glasses, called Atheer AiR DK2, which is powered by its software program, called Air OS. While wearing the glasses, users can view information overlaid onto the real world. They can then interact with the virtual data “in a natural way,” the company explains.

One of the company’s suggested use cases for this technology is healthcare.  Keep reading>>

Study: Decision support app increased nurse practitioner diagnoses

By: Aditi Pai | Feb 23, 2015        

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Doctor breaking cigaretteUsing mobile apps that help clinicians follow evidence-based guidelines when making treatment decisions increases the chances that nurses will identify patients with chronic health issues, including obesity, smoking, and depression, according to a study from Columbia University School of Nursing published in the Journal for Nurse Practitioners.

The study analyzed the rate that registered nurses, enrolled in nurse practitioner programs at Columbia University School of Nursing, screened patients with tobacco use, adult and pediatric depression, and obesity. The nurses conducted 34,349 patient exams during the study.

“What clinicians need is decision support tools that fit into their workflow and remind them of evidence-based practices,” Suzanne Bakken, lead study author and alumni professor of nursing at Columbia Nursing said in a statement. “Our app focused specifically on the work that nurse practitioners do to identify health problems, counsel patients, and coordinate care plans, resulting in higher diagnosis rates and more opportunities for intervention.”

Nurse practitioner students were randomly assigned mobile devices with preloaded app that either had the decision support features or didn’t. The app with the evidence-based decision support features prompted nurse practitioner students to document care plans, while the other app offered students simple tools for recording results from a patient exam.  Keep reading>>

Cox taps Cleveland Clinic for joint venture Vivre Health

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 23, 2015        

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HealthSpot KioskTelecom giant Cox Communications announced last week that it was teaming up with the Cleveland Clinic to form a “strategic alliance”, called Vivre Health, that would develop digital home health services. The joint venture will be based in Atlanta and will help Cox move its healthcare business beyond providing broadband services to hospitals, according to Reuters. As part of the announcement Cox disclosed that it had also made an investment in health kiosk company HealthSpot, but the amount remains undisclosed.

A HealthSpot spokesperson told MobiHealthNews in an email that the investment is related to the joint venture because HealthSpot shares Cox’s and Cleveland Clinic’s vision to bring healthcare to the home in the future. “Cox believes that HealthSpot’s technology will help provide a path to the home,” she wrote.

It’s possible that the joint venture HealthSpot and Cleveland Clinic signed a letter of intent for last May is the same as Vivre Health. HealthSpot said it would reveal more in the coming days.

Cleveland Clinic launched a pilot with Cox-rival Time Warner more than a year ago to determine the feasibility of setting up remote visits with patients discharged from the hospital after installing cameras that connected to the patient’s TV. Video services provider Tely Labs was another partner in that pilot.  Keep reading>>