Another report that Microsoft will launch a health sensor-laden smartwatch

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 21, 2014        

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Bing Health and Fitness

Microsoft is set to unveil a health-focused smartwatch within the next few weeks, which will be available in stores in time for the holiday shopping season, according to a report from Forbes. Reports of Microsoft’s rumored smartwatch first surfaced in July. At the time, publication Tom’s Hardware reported that the smartwatch would have 11 sensors and use chips from Texas Instruments and Atmel and that the device’s display would be on the inside of the user’s wrist instead of the outside because, according to the source, it’s more natural for users to look there.

Forbes’ more recent report also claims that the Microsoft smartwatch will have 11 sensors onboard, including one that passively tracks heart rate.

In the past week, two reports leaked about activity tracker maker Fitbit’s upcoming devices, and two of the three devices that Fitbit is rumored to unveil will also offer heart rate tracking. One of the devices, called Fitbit Surge, will not only offer heart rate tracking, but also GPS-enabled distance tracking and call and text message notifications.

According to Forbes, Microsoft’s device will offer a two-day battery life — the same battery estimate for the rumored Fitbit Surge — but still less than the recently unveiled Basis Peak, which will have a four-day battery life.

The Tom’s Hardware report in July added that Microsoft’s smartwatch will look like a slimmer version of the Nike+ FuelBand, an activity tracker that Nike appears to be slowly phasing out, given that the company let go as many as 55 members of its Nike+ FuelBand team a several months back. Additionally, the optical engineering team from Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect division will contribute to the company’s smartwatch project. The Kinect device itself has been used as a digital health tool in various healthcare contexts, including physical therapy, virtual visits, fall prevention, and autism screening and therapy.

The recent Forbes report also emphasized that Microsoft’s smartwatch will work across different platforms, which is in keeping with Microsoft’s new CEO’s strategy for the company.

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Netpulse acquires Club Apps to expand customer base

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 20, 2014        

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Gold's Gym Club Apps

App developed by Club Apps

San Francisco-based Netpulse, which offers fitness clubs software that connects fitness devices and apps to gym equipment, has acquired Atlanta, Georgia-based health club app maker, Club Apps for an undisclosed sum.

As a part of the acquisition, Netpulse hired Club Apps President and Cofounder Kelly Sweeney as the company’s VP of Sales. Netpulse also hired the rest of Club Apps’ sales team and laid out a transition service agreement for Club Apps’ engineering team, which will stay with the company for at least six months as Netpulse transitions the Club Apps members to its own platform. At the end of the six months, Netpulse plans to shut down Club Apps.

Netpulse CEO Bryan Arp told MobiHealthNews that the main reason for the acquisition was to accelerate Netpulse’s offering into the marketplace. Netpulse’s first effort to do so was raising an $18.6 million round of funding in September 2014. The second, he explained, was this acquisition.

“Club Apps is a smaller company in this space, and what they’ve done is they’re the default mobile app for about 700 customers, so it enabled us to really quickly add 700 customer accounts,” Arp said. “And more importantly, what we’re going to do is convert all those customers to the Netpulse platform so its a way to accelerate the platform quickly.”

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How digital health can — and already does — help contain Ebola

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 20, 2014        

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JONAH_COMSTOCK_HEADSHOTAlthough relatively few cases have been reported outside West Africa, Ebola is both a top headline and a public health concern in the Western world, with eight confirmed cases in the United States. Even in the UK, Ebola was a topic of discussion at a recent TechCrunch Disrupt Conference panel on digital health.

“I think the question is no longer if, but it’s when,” Dominic King, a surgeon at Imperial College and a member of the HELIX Centre healthcare design group, said at the panel. “We are definitely going to have people with Ebola coming in to a world city like London. And when this city was a market for fish rather than ideas, we had dozens of hospitals that dealt with infectious diseases. Now our bread and butter is non-communicative diseases like diabetes. We’re very good at managing chronic conditions. But how’s our health system going to deal with a potential epidemic? Well maybe not an epidemic, but in the next couple of months half of us are going to develop colds and fevers as part of normal seasonal flus. How are we going to deal with that? Everyone’s going to wonder ‘Is this Ebola?’ and I think technology has a massive potential role to play.”

King suggested that mobile technology is a good fit for addressing a disease that spreads through contact. By using telemedicine, potential Ebola patients can be assessed and monitored without coming into the hospital.  Keep reading>>

Chicago mining Twitter to pinpoint food poisoning at restaurants

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 20, 2014        

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FoodBorne ChicagoChicago’s Department of Public Health (CDPH) has conducted more than 150 restaurant and food service inspections in the past year that may not have otherwise happened as a result of its new program, called Foodborne Chicago, which uses Twitter to search for people who tweeted about getting food poisoning.

Of the food service inspections conducted, an article published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) explained, the CDPH conducted 133 unannounced health inspections. Twenty one restaurants failed the inspections and the restaurants were shut down, while 33 restaurants passed with conditions, meaning there still were serious or critical violations that the health inspectors identified.  Keep reading>>

Report: Fitbit Surge will have GPS, call notifications, heart-rate sensor

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 20, 2014        

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Fitbit Force

Fitbit Force

This week there’s a new report about leaked details of an upcoming Fitbit device — this is the third device that has leaked from Fitbit in recent weeks — The Verge reports that the Fitbit Surge will cost about $250 and will offer GPS-enabled distance tracking, heart rate sensing, and call and text message notifications. That would make the Surge the first Fitbit with GPS and the first Fitbit to deliver on incoming call and text notifications.

The voluntarily recalled Fitbit Force was supposed to have the notifications feature but never got that promised update. The recently leaked Fitbit Charge HR reportedly will have a heart rate sensor too.

The Fitbit Surge’s leaked marketing page touts GPS capabilities as its top feature: “Get distance, pace, and elevation climbed with built-in GPS, then review routes and split times,” it reads. The second feature listed is “PurePulse heart rate” which Fitbit says is: “continuous, automatic wrist-based heart rate monitoring with no uncomfortable chest straps.” The device can also let users control the music playing on their phone right from their wrist.

The Fitbit Surge will also reportedly have all the other tracking features that are now standard on the company’s newest devices, like steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes, sleep quality, and silent alarm.

The Surge will also promise about two days of battery life and come in three colors: black, slate, and tangerine, according to the Verge report.