Xbox One, Kinect 2.0 and the future of health technology

By: admin | May 26, 2013        

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Marcelo Calbucci EverymoveMarcelo Calbucci is the Co-founder & CTO of EveryMove and a former development manager at Microsoft

Here is a bold statement: No other device, with the exception of the smartphone, will do more for the evolution of health technology than the Kinect 2.0 on the new Xbox One.

In case you are not a gamer or didn’t follow the news, the new Kinect comes packed with lots of high-end gear like a high-resolution digital camera, an infrared camera and several high-fidelity microphones. But those are just sensors, the magic happens on the software. Microsoft released the first Kinect just three years ago, but they’ve been working on the software for more than a decade, and they’ve built a platform, which means new apps (not only games) will be able to tap into an amazing source of information on our body.

The first category of games to benefit from these high-end sensors is fitness games, which are already leveraging the previous version of Kinect, and also made Nintendo’s Wii Fit hyper popular. Next generation fitness games will be able not only to tell you how to make a downward dog or a squat, but the games will be able to tell you to keep your back straight, or move your left foot six inches to the right. Now we can start imagining a RunKeeper or MapMyRun app for Xbox that focuses on training for a run that beautifully integrates with your training plan.

The fitness apps will be the first to come, and over the next one to two years we will see a flood of them. However, the apps likely to make the biggest difference in health will need another three to five years of development before they hit the market, but they will be nothing short of Sci-Fi turned reality. Keep reading>>

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Three reasons FDA’s enforcement helps mobile health

By: admin | May 25, 2013        

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Bradley Merrill ThompsonBy Bradley Merrill Thompson

As MobiHealthNews reported earlier, this week FDA sent an enforcement letter to the developer of a urinalysis app. This might sound weird, but I believe that’s good news for the mobile health industry.

Full disclosure, I may have played a part in FDA’s decision to send that letter. Over the last several months, I’ve had four occasions to talk about the app publicly, including:

  1. A March editorial on the Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry (MDDI) website in which I began the public discussion by arguing the app required FDA compliance, but had none. Indeed, at the time, the manufacturer was claiming that the app wasn’t even a medical device.
  2. March testimony before a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to the same effect,
  3. Comments to the media and FDA at an April Politico event after the app made its debut on iTunes, and
  4. An interview by the Gray Sheet that published a very detailed story on Monday of this week. Indeed, the Gray Sheet also interviewed two professors to assess whether the app developer had sufficient clinical evidence in support of its claims.

I mention all of this because it seems relevant to the question I’m sure you’re asking yourself, does this FDA letter reflect a new trend by the agency or is this likely to be a one-off event? To me it seems unlikely FDA is now embarking on an enforcement campaign against violative mobile apps, at least until the final guidance is out.  Instead, I think FDA simply decided to respond to all of the public questions around whether apps trigger FDA requirements if they perform the same functions as traditional, regulated medical devices.

So why is this good news? Because the letter gives the mHealth industry, and particularly the segment of that industry focused on higher risk apps, some clarity with respect to the role FDA by law already plays. Keep reading>>

Former Epocrates CTO raises $2M from Khosla Ventures for new health startup, Gamgee

By: Aditi Pai | May 24, 2013        

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BobQuinnThis week, stealthy mobile health startup, Palo Alto, California-based Gamgee raised $2 million from Khosla Ventures, according to an SEC filing.

The company aims to make a healthcare app geared towards people who are chronically ill, CEO Bob Quinn writes in his LinkedIn profile. Very few details about the company are known, but Quinn, former Epocrates CTO, wrote that the startup’s long term plans include helping people get their healthcare questions answered. Quinn was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Khosla Ventures from June 2012 to January of this year.

Two months ago, Gamgee raised $500,000 from two investors. Like the most recent SEC filing, the only people named on the forms were Bob Quinn and Vinod Khosla, which might suggest Quinn hasn’t yet built a team.

Last month, Khosla Ventures led a round of funding for HealthTap, a doctor question and answer startup that helps patients find physician sourced answers to their questions online or through the associated mobile app. Khosla has also invested in medical peripheral device maker CellScope, behavior monitoring and analytics startup Ginger.io, wearable device makers Misfit Wearables and Jawbone, iPhone ECG developer AliveCor and appointment booking app ZocDoc. This past week, former Google executive Ben Ling joined Khosla Ventures as a venture partner, according to AllThingsD.

As CTO of Epocrates, Quinn was part of the team that led the company’s ill fated attempt at developing an EHR. MobiHealthNews interviewed Quinn back in 2010 to talk about the company’s EHR plans.

Quinn based his new startup’s name on a fictional character from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Samwise Gamgee, who was reliable and helpful, as he believes the app will also be.

Health and fitness apps will be key selling points for smartwatches

By: Jonah Comstock | May 24, 2013        

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Research firm ON World is predicting a fitness tracking capability will be a top consumer requirement for forthcoming smartwatches.

“Some sports and fitness markets will be disrupted by the emergence of new general purpose mobile sensing products such as smartwatches,” Mareca Hatler, ON World’s research director, said in a statement. “Also, dedicated mobile sensing sports and fitness device manufacturers face intense competition from smartphones/tablets makers and app developers targeting integrated mobile device sensors.”

ON World smartwatchON World did a survey of 1,000 US consumers, asking them what factors they would consider before purchasing a smartwatch. Thirty percent cited fitness as the most important application, more than any other category. Another 18 percent listed health applications as most important. In addition, 20 percent of those consumers interested in buying a smartwatch at all were willing to pay at least $299 for a unit with integrated health and activity sensors.

ON World’s report, “Mobile Sensing: Sports and Fitness 2013″ on mobile sensing reports that 500 million mobile fitness and health sensors will ship in 2017. Two-thirds of these will be for activity tracking.

When ON World came out with its March prediction that 18.2 million health sensors would ship in 2017, they specifically excluded sports trackers, telling MobiHealthNews the category was large enough to merit its own report.

A recent report from IMS put the number of “sports and fitness monitor” shipments in 2017 at a much smaller 56 million.

ON World’s report comes out at a time of big fitness tracker news: Jawbone’s recent acquisition of BodyMedia is the first major consolidation in the tracker space, companies like Withings and iHealth Lab continue to add activity trackers to their product lines, and Bluetooth Smart is creating new possibilities for low energy wearable devices.

The report says that 150 million “mobile sensing health and fitness apps” have been downloaded, and by 2017 this number will have increased to 1.4 billion. Global cumulative revenues for mobile sensing apps and subscriptions will reach $975 million by 2017, the firm said.

iHealth Lab commercially launches fitness device

By: Aditi Pai | May 24, 2013        

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wireless sleep and activity trackerMountain View, California-based iHealth Lab, a subsidiary of Chinese medical device company Andon Health, announced a new device this week, the Wireless Activity and Sleep Tracker. As part of the announcement, iHealth also formed partnerships with two fitness tracking companies, MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper.

iHealth’s new fitness device comes as a wristband or belt clip, and unlike most other fitness tracking devices today, you don’t have to charge it. According to the company it has a three-year battery life. It syncs to an app that allows the user to set goals, measure activity in steps, calories or distance, and keep track of diet and sleep efficiency. It costs $60 and is commercially available in the US and Europe.

iHealth also announced another product that its billing as a health and fitness device, the Wireless Pulse Oximeter January. The device measures blood oxygen saturation and tracks pulse rate data. The device then transmits the information to a corresponding app that shows trends and stores information.

Other iHealth devices include blood pressure monitors designed to help those at risk of heart disease and digital weight scales that track body fat percentage and BMI in addition to weight. In December, iHealth partnered with EHR-maker Practice fusion and productivity app, Evernote.

Although there are many health-related tracking devices on the market, Withings matches iHealth Lab almost device for device. Unlike iHealth, Withings doesn’t have a Pule Oximeter and unlike Withings, iHealth doesn’t have a baby monitor. In January Withings announced an activity tracker, but has not yet put it on the market.

Slideshow: 7 health, fitness crowdfunding projects

By: Jonah Comstock | May 24, 2013        

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Misfit Shine syncing on phone

The Misfit Shine raised $846,000 on Indiegogo in January.

Like the Misfit Shine before it, Scanadu proved this week that in digital health, the combination of a hip, hyped product and a crowdfunding platform can lead to impressive results. The company raised their goal of $100,000 in just two hours, and they’re now up to more than three times that.

Of course, not all digital and mobile health projects on Indiegogo or Kickstarter (which has quietly begun to go back on its former prohibition against health projects) achieve that level of success. Two months ago, we did a round-up of five mobile health projects on Indiegogo, and we’ve covered a number of crowdfunded companies in the meantime.

Four of the five companies in our March roundup surpassed their funding goals. The Amiigo fitness bracelet ended up raising $580,689, more than six times its $90,000 goal. The activity tracker surprised its backers by adding a previously unannounced sleep tracker shortly after the conclusion of the campaign. Breathometer, the smartphone breathalyzer, raised $138,377, more than five times its $25,000 goal. LifeBEAM’s SMART cycling helmet, an activity and heart rate tracker built into a bike helmet, raised $64,676 of its $50,000 goal. Silverline, the company refurbishing smartphones for seniors, just made their goal of $50,000, with a final total of $54,001.

The only company from our roundup that failed to meet its goal was MoodTune, a mobile game for treating depression, which raised only $1,955 out of a goal of $152,000. As did Lively, an eldercare monitoring system whose Kickstarter campaign we covered last month: they were only able to raise $15,177 of their $100,000 goal.

Other campaigns MobiHealthNews has written up recently are still ongoing, but promising. Goggle-based swim tracker Instabeat is already overfunded, with $43,823 raised out of a $35,000 goal and 25 days to go. The company’s stretch goal is $55,000. The Kinsa smart thermometer, which aims to create a realtime health map, is at $44,528 out of its $50,000 with 24 days left and the iPhone Placebo effect app is at $20,300 out of $50,000 with 31 days to go.

We’re always hearing about new mobile and digital health crowdfunding projects at MobiHealthNews. Read on for a slideshow of seven projects either currently seeking funds or recently concluded.

UPDATE: Make that eight! An astute commenter reminded us about HAPIFork, the app-connected fork that vibrates when the user eats too quickly. HAPIFork was met with some skepticism at CES in January and was mocked by Stephen Colbert shortly thereafter, but the crowd has definitely spoken: With a week to go, HAPILabs has raised $125,383 out of an original $100,000 goal.

In addition, a look at HAPILabs’ website suggests the fork is just the beginning: the company intends to introduce an activity tracker and a wristworn heart monitor.

Keep reading>>