Intermountain researchers develop smartphone-based lab test for stress

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 10, 2014        

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Intermountain Medical Center test for cortisolResearchers from Intermountain Healthcare have developed a smartphone-based test for measuring salivary cortisol, which can help care providers understand the patient’s stress levels. The test can be performed at the point of care in just five minutes.

When someone feels stress, their body’s natural response is to release hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, to help them deal with the “threat”. When cortisol is released, it increases glucose in the system, but also curbs nonessential functions including the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes.

When people feel stress throughout the day, thus releasing too much cortisol, it can lead to anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, and memory and concentration impairment.

To perform the test, care providers use a smartphone’s camera to take a picture using the flash. From there, the image analysis app can identify the user’s cortisol levels.  Keep reading>>

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Adidas announces Fit Smart wristworn activity tracker for workouts

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 10, 2014        

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miCoach Fit SmartAdidas has announced its latest activity tracker, just two weeks after rumors surfaced that the device might be announced sometime this year.

The activity tracker, called the Adidas Fit Smart, tracks heart rate, calories, pace, distance, and stride rate and is designed to help athletes when they are running or training. Fit Smart records data while users work out and then the companion app suggests training plans and strategies so that users can reach their goals. Users can set weekly goals as well as longer term goals based on training plans developed by coaching service EXOS (formerly Athletes’ Performance). Through EXOS, Adidas offers hundreds of training plans that are free to access for Fit Smart owners.

For athletes who want a quick view of how hard they are training while they are training, the watch also displays the user’s different workout intensities in blue, green, yellow and red, as determined by the user’s heart rate.  Keep reading>>

Health data platform Validic acquires Infometers to boost clinical device integrations

By: Brian Dolan | Jul 9, 2014        

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ValidicDurham, North Carolina-based health data platform company Validic announced this week that it had acquired its partner Mountain View, California-based Infometers for an undisclosed sum. Validic’s CEO Ryan Beckland told MobiHealthNews that his company bought Infometers for its technology capabilities and for its team. All full-time Infometers employees have joined Validic, Beckland said, but the number of employees was not disclosed either. The former Infometers team will continue to work out of their Silicon Valley office, which gives Validic a strategic foothold there.

“What Infometers does is SDK integrations. What Validic has traditionally done is API integrations,” Beckland explained. “The difference is API is server-side so the device, let’s say an Omron Blood Pressure Cuff, would send data to a hub, which might be software on a phone, computer or Qualcomm 2net hub plugged into the wall. Then that hub, whatever it is, sends data to a server. Validic is integrated on the server side so we pull data off the server — that’s the API connection. Now the SDK connection, which is what Infometers does, pulls data directly from the device itself. What Infometers actually has is a piece of software — a hub — that grabs data directly from the devices and sends it to the Validic server. That’s the technology that we’ve added to our portfolio that will allow us to rapidly expand into more classes of medical devices and quickly broaden our horizons into the types of things we can integrate.”  Keep reading>>

Apple adds passive step counts, caffeine tracking to Health; hires Nike+ FuelBand engineers

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 9, 2014        

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HealthKitJust a month after Apple announced its health tracking platform for iOS 8, the company released a new beta version of the app with two new features: step counting and caffeine tracking, according to a report from 9to5Mac. Another report from 9to5Mac finds that Apple hired two engineers from the Nike+ FuelBand team in June, Ryan Bailey and Jon Gale.

These two are just the latest to join Apple’s growing iWatch team. Along with Bailey and Gale, Apple also recently added the sales director of Swiss watch company TAG Heuer.

Based on the first version of the iOS 8 beta, Apple’s Health app allows other health-related connected devices and applications to integrate data into Health to help users view all of their health metrics in one place. The app can also be a reference point for patients who want to use the app to send data to their physicians. At the time of Health’s launch, Apple senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi announced that Epic Systems, an electronic health record company, was working with Apple on some kind of integration with HealthKit.  Keep reading>>

GE develops microwave prototype that measures caloric content

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 9, 2014        

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GE passive nutrition tracking microwave

Mock up of a calorie counting device

GE Research has developed a prototype of a microwave that could someday measure calories in the foods that a user warms up, according to a report from MIT Technology Review. This first prototype is only capable of measuring the caloric content of some liquids.

GE Global Research Senior Scientist Matt Webster invented the device when he was looking for a way to make a passive nutrition tracker for his wife, who told him activity trackers were not useful without this feature, according to a blog post in GE Reports.

After combing through U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional information on 6,500 foods, Webster found that he could get a mostly accurate calorie count from the food’s fat content, water content, and weight. He told GE Reports that a microwave can detect fat and water signatures because “water and fat interact with microwaves very differently”.

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Modus health wants to build a more clinical activity tracker

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 9, 2014        

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ModusWashington, DC-based modus health, a spin-off of a prosthesis company called Orthocare Innovations, has launched with the goal of creating a wearable activity tracker for clinical use. The technology is building on a research device called StepWatch that Orthocare has been using for some time.

“It’s sort of a wearable [that was created] before wearables were cool and it is a validated wearable that’s an FDA Class 2 device that has quite a following in the research world,” Doug McCormack, president of modus, told MobiHealthNews. “And we felt very strongly that it would be an opportunity to get that core technology and translate what’s really been a research device into something that can have a meaningful impact on clinical care.”

While the consumer activity tracker market continues to be one of the hottest spaces in digital health, the use of wearable trackers in actual clinical contexts is still fairly limited. The Mayo Clinic used the Fitbit in a high-profile study on cardiac rehabilitation patients, and PatientsLikeMe has recently begun using its network of patients to collect data from consumer trackers, but these examples are few and far between.  Keep reading>>