Tag Archive | "Health"

Interactive Nike Fuel Station Opens in London [VIDEO]

British runners: on your mark, get set — shop! Nike fans in London can re-fuel at a new interactive pop-up shop designed to sync with the company’s latest high-tech product: the Nike+ Fuelband.

The wristband tracks your movements throughout the day. It records “your entire athletic life,” says Nike’s promo video, and can sync that information to your smartphone. The wristband records steps taken, calories burned and time of activity.

The shop opened in London’s BOXPARK Shoreditch pop-up mall, a low-cost moveable shopping center made from shipping containers. The mall already houses brands including Levi’s and Calvin Klein.

In addition to shoes and gear, Nike’s new shop will include an LCD wall that can take a pixelated snapshot of your outline. The colorful imprint can move with you — definitely a fun feature that could draw-in shoppers passing by. In addition to the LCD screen there will also be iPads embedded in the store walls. (After all, Nike and Apple have a partnership.) Visitors to the shop can also sign-up for local running clubs and design customized shoes.

This is just Nike’s latest step toward elevating the brand’s tech presence. In February, Nike announced that its Nike+ line of shoes for runners would expand to include shoes made for basketball and other general athletic activities. The Nike+ shoe records workout information, which users can sync to the Nike+ apps on their iPhone, iPod touch and the web.

The Fuelband is the latest product Nike is adding to the digitally connected Nike+ ecosystem. The interactive shop hasn’t come to the U.S. yet, but fans can stay connected by using the hashtag #makeitcount on Twitter.

What do you think of this interactive pop-up shop? Would you be more inclined to shop at an interactive store? Tell us in the comments.

More About: athletes, contest, health, london, Nike, smartphone

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Your Desk Job Makes You Fat, Sick and Dead [INFOGRAPHIC]

The productivity of the average worker has skyrocketed thanks to technology, but it comes at the price of a sedentary lifestyle. And mounting research suggests that sitting at your desk for eight hours a day can have a dramatic impact on your health.

Don’t get me wrong. I burn plenty of calories typing emails. And I make a point to always click and drag through long websites and documents — scroll wheels are for lazy people. But all that strenuous activity pales in comparison to the exercise my forebears did on the job 50 years ago (killing dinosaurs). In the 1960s, nearly half of all jobs required physical activity. Today, less than 20% do. Day to day, you may not see the toll of this. But over lifetimes and large amounts of health data, the effects are pretty staggering.

SEE ALSO: Why a Stand-Up Desk Might Save Your Life

For example, from 1980 to 2000, the time Americans spent sitting increased by only 8%, while exercise rates stayed the same. The result? Obesity doubled. (The prevalence of processed foods likely plays a role here too, but you get the gist.)

Now, most experts agree that being homeless and not eating are far worse for your health than having a desk job, so don’t kick your boss’s door in just yet. But the moral of the infographic below (courtesy of OnlineUniversity.net) is that you should pay attention to your sedentary habits, and be sure to take frequent breaks to stand and walk around. And, as obvious people everywhere will tell you, counter-balance your sitting sprees with regular exercise and buckets of vegetables.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, sdominick

Infographic courtesy of OnlineUniversity.net.

More About: Business, features, health, infographics, jobs, trending, work

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Former Sun CEO Launches a Startup for Caretakers

The former CEO of Sun Microsystems has reemerged in the tech world — this time at the helm of a seven-employee startup rather than a 28,000-employee technology company.

Jonathan Schwartz announced his new venture, CareZone, on Wednesday.

The startup is a private, cloud-based information hub for caretakers of children, parents or spouses. It puts key contact details, profile information such as blood type, medication instructions, to-dos and caretaker notes in one place. Users can also upload legal documents, medical records or anything else they would like to have on-hand in an emergency to the platform.

One of CareZone’s stand-out features is the $5 fee that users pay each month. The promise, Schwartz says, is that the information won’t be shared with advertisers — the usual tradeoff for free web services such as Facebook or Google.

“When you’re responsible for someone else’s data,” Schwartz says, “your calculus changes a little bit.”

Google’s free platform for tracking personal health information failed to take off and was shut down on January 1, 2012. CareZone stores information about users’ loved ones, not necessarily users themselves, but its bet is that a private version of Google’s platform would have been more appealing.

CareZone users can give access to anyone they want — siblings, professional caregivers or other caretakers — for no extra charge, but nobody who hasn’t been invited has access to their data.

“Others may be around [the person you care for], and you want them to have access to the same information that you have,” Schwartz says, “but when it comes to a child’s information or information about your parents, the tradeoff [of using free services] doesn’t work.”

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, FredFroese

More About: CareZone, health, jonathan schwartz

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RunKeeper Launches a Like Button for Health

You already “Tweet” and “Like” directly from content sites, and now RunKeeper wants you to “Healthy” from them, too.

The fitness-tracking app launched a “Healthy” button and bookmarklet on Monday that makes it feel more like a social network.

Users can now add content to their RunKeeper newsfeeds directly from sites that install the Healthy button. So far those sites include news sites such as Spry Living and Greatist as well as brands such as PowerBar. They can also add content to their feeds from sites that haven’t installed the button through a bookmarklet.

Although RunKeeper started out — as its name suggests — simply tracking runs, its ambition is to map health data the same way that Facebook maps social data. For this reason, it has opened its API and integrated with heart rate monitors, wi-fi scales, blood pressure monitors and fitness watches.

Previously the newsfeed had been reserved for updates about fitness accomplishments such as “Sarah completed a 5.3 mile run” or “Julie completed a 34.2 mile bike ride.” Opening it to recipes, health tips and other content could further RunKeeper’s presence as a social destination for all things health related.

More About: fitness, health, mobile apps, runkeeper

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Could a Facebook for Doctors Improve Your Care?

Your accountant can email a specialist for advice about a specific issue in your tax return. Your doctor, however, doesn’t necessarily have the same access to easy collaboration. There may, however, be a Facebook-like solution in the wings.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) prevents doctors from sharing patient information without “reasonable safeguards.” For the most part, this shuts down the instantaneous email exchanges through which other professionals collaborate. Physicians can consult with each other about a patient’s condition via email, but they can’t involve medical test results or a patient’s medical records in the discussion.

While it’s good that patient privacy is protected, these restrictions have contributed to the fax machine’s mainstay as a major form of communication between doctors. The rest of us are bouncing messages between us instantaneously while doctors are receiving faxes. One medical center estimates it receives roughly 50,000 and sends another 10,000 fax pages each month.

A new doctors-only network called Doximity wants to free doctors from the fax machine and bring social media into the field. The company started as a LinkedIn for doctors, and it quickly grew to 30,000 members. Recently it added a Newsfeed feature that, like Facebook, allows doctors to post messages to colleagues with whom they are connected on the platform.

Doximity Founder and CEO Jeff Tangney says the idea of the feature is to give doctors a safe place to collaborate.

“You can get fired for being a physician on Facebook,” he says. “It becomes really difficult to collaborate all of these things when you can’t send a patient photo or any discussion of a patient legally over email.”

A doctor in California, for instance, has a teenage patient who recently came down with an uncommon infection, so he contacted another doctor in Texas who had led studies on a treatment for that infection. Another specialist from Boston chimed in, and together the three came up with a new way to treat the patient.

In the digital age, this kind of collaboration makes a completely underwhelming story. But in the medical field, it’s something of a difficult task to pull off. On Doximity, Tangney says these doctors could freely exchange details because the communication is HIPAA-compliant.

While there’s no official HIPAA-compliant certification, the company says it has worked with independent consultants to ensure it isn’t violating the law. There’s a three-step verification process for doctors to establish a profile on the site that involves a credit check and a verification of credentials against the American Medical Association database. There is also a multiple-step sign-in process similar to one you may have encountered at your bank’s website.

Tangney didn’t say how many doctors were currently enrolled in the program, but he did say that it was more than 7% of physicians in the U.S. That should put it at about 40,000 doctors.

That participation fuels Doximity’s business model — locating health specialists for non-medical advisory roles and billing for their time — but it also opens up the possibility of social media shaping medicine as it has other professions.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, pixdeluxe

More About: Doximity, health

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Wi-Fi Smart Scale Uploads Your Weight, Shares With Friends

A new wireless scale with Wi-Fi lets you track your weight and record the results online — and for those bold enough, even share your progress with friends.

The Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale is being debuted Monday at CES in Las Vegas. It is one of the health and fitness tracking products by Fitbit. Aria can track weight, BMI and body fat percentage, and sync all that information to the Fitbit website.

Information is private by default, but you can foster some healthy competition by sharing your results via the Fitbit site. And of course, you earn badges.

In October, the company launched the Fitbit Ultra Wireless Activity Tracker — basically, a hi-tech pedometer. It tracks steps taken, and has an accelerometer and an altimeter to record an increase in speed or altitude. The compact device is a little more than 2 inches long by .75 inches wide and fits in your pocket. The Tracker also syncs to the website where you can record calories burned, steps taken and more.

SEE ALSO: 5 Fitness Brands Kicking Butt on Social Media | A Guide to Tracking Health & Fitness Online

Meanwhile, if you really want to incorporate Fitbit into every aspect of your life, you can download the Fitbit app on iPhone, Android or Windows phone. As with the scale, you can also track your weight on the app, but to view a graph of your progress over time, you’ll need to sign-up on the site. The basic plan on the site is free, but doesn’t include some key features like an activity report, food report or sleep report. Using all features of the site costs $50 per year.

The scale is priced at $129.95 and goes on pre-sale Jan. 9. Aria is scheduled to ship in late April.

More About: CES, CES 2012, fitness, health, trending

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Mindbloom Helps You Grow Your Tree of Life

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Mindbloom Life Game

Quick Pitch: Mindbloom creates interactive software designed to help you stay engaged with and top of your goals for living well.

Genius Idea: Stay inspired to improve your life holistically via daily reminders and a progress-charting game-like interface.

Mindbloom co-founder Chris Hewett acknowledges that the online health space has several interactive tools. But he says most of those share a couple of faults: they narrowly focus on one area of life, for example physical fitness, and their interactive elements are often narrowed to simple things like leader boards and merit badges.

And that, in part, is why he and business partner Brent Poole started Mindbloom in 2008. Offering a more holistic approach to self-improvement measured in quantifiable steps will lead to more fulfilled and healthy lives, they believe.

Mindbloom’s Life Game is based on the central concept of a tree as the metaphor for a user’s life. By choosing a series of areas to focus on maintaining and improving — for example, health, creativity, relationships and so on — users see those facets of their lives represented as different parts of the tree. They can then in put a series of smaller benchmarks — such as completing a set of push-ups, practicing guitar scales or spending time with family — that aim toward larger goals. If they achieve their smaller tasks, then different areas of their tree grow. If not, then that growth remains stunted.

“It’s really these small steps that keep people feeing successful,” Hewett says. “And one trait of good game design is helping people feel effective.”

Hewett brings a wealth of game industry experience from his decade as a designer at Monolith and handles Mindbloom’s creative side. Poole, an early Amazon executive, deals with its business operations. The Seattle-based company has raised nearly $2 million from angel investors and launched its Life Game product from beta in September. An iPhone app called Bloom launched in November and complements the Life Game or offers standalone reminders to help build a healthy life.

But it’s not just the small steps designed to help people reach their larger goals that will make Mindbloom successful, Hewett says. Interactive elements such as slideshows of personal and inspirational photos set to handpicked music also help users grow their trees and stay motivated. Users can keep their trees private but also have the option to invite friends to group trees together in forests for mutual encouragement, and can access community-added resources like websites on ideas for date nights or exercise routines.

Mindbloom currently has about 50,000 registered users, Hewett says, with 36,000 of them active and visiting the site an average of three times per week. During all of 2011, more than 1.2 million scheduled actions were completed, according to Hewett. The mobile app Bloom has been downloaded some 200,000 times since its launch.

While the Life Game and Bloom app are free, Hewett says Mindbloom generates revenue through an enhanced premium version and strategic partnerships, such as its current collaboration with health benefits company Aetna, with businesses that purchase licensing fees allowing their members or employees access to the Life Game’s premium version.

What do you think? Can this approach help people reach their goals? Will it work as a business model? Let us know in the comments, and check out the video below for more information.

More About: health, interactive, mindbloom, Startups

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Reddit’s Guide to Fitness Dishes Out Diet and Exercise Tips [INFOGRAPHIC]

If you’ve made any New Year’s resolutions to get fit in 2012, this detailed infographic from health-content startup Greatist may come in handy on your journey toward a healthier you.

The visual guide is packed with information compiled from Fittit, the fitness section of social news site Reddit where people help each other regarding diet and exercise. Fittit has more than 110,500 subscribers.

One “Fittiter” posted the infographic on Fittit, which has sparked a lively discussion about the guide’s content.

SEE ALSO: 13 Ways to Get in Shape With Digital Fitness Tools

Are these tips helpful? What advice do you have for fellow readers? Sound off in the comments.

More About: fitness, health, infographic, reddit, trending

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Keas Is Like FarmVille for Corporate Wellness

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

stethoscope imageName: Keas

Quick Pitch: Keas turns office fitness into a game.

Genius Idea: Using addictive social games for a productive purpose.

Before Adam Bosworth co-founded Keas, he led a project at Google that aimed to organize, track and monitor health information. The idea had potential to help people better manage their health, but it never caught on, and Google Health will shut down as of January 1, 2012.

Bosworth immediately created a startup with similar goals.

“As valley people, we like information and we like data,” he says, “so we built a Mint.com for health.”

Unsurprisingly, this too failed to take off. People, it turns out, just aren’t into monitoring their own vital statistics — no matter how good it is for them. The team finally scratched the idea and came up with the first iteration of its current product.

Keas is now a social game that operates a bit like FarmVille, and it has raised $16.5 million to date, $6.5 million of which it announced Tuesday. Users set health-related goals for the week such “I will eat only healthy snacks for three days this week” or “I will get 8 hours of sleep two nights this week.” Each weekly goal is assigned a point value. Throughout the week, players can earn extra points by completing “healthy breaks” like jumping jacks, desk exercises and healthy snack choices.

What makes the game work, Bosworth says, is that users can only succeed if they don’t have slackers on their teams. One slacker makes it difficult to win the game. Two makes it almost impossible. Enter peer-pressure.

Keas says that about 70% of the employees it signs up participate week after week. It’s used by about 100,000 employees at 20 companies, including Pfizer, Bechtel and Progress Software. Bosworth says that there has never been a week at any of these companies in which fewer than 30% of employees participated.

HR departments don’t invite employees to sign up. Instead, employees are encouraged to invite new players to earn points in the game. And rewards? They don’t really exist — not in the physical world anyway.

High engagement, little deployment effort and no costs beyond the $12 annual fee-per-employee that Keas charges? Sounds like an HR miracle. And if it is indeed making employees healthier, it might be. Because the game launched its pilot less than a year ago, however, there isn’t a ton of data beyond case studies that indicates employees who play the game are sick less often, have fewer chronic medical problems and are more productive.

Competitors such as Wellthy and Shapeup are using a similar social game concept to motivate employers. Another startup, LiviFi, is taking a the concept mobile. And if the approach is as promising as it looks to be, there will quite likely be many more companies joining the competition. Game on.

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bizspark, google health, health, Keas, livifi

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It’s Not Just A Messaging Problem: Only 15% Of Likely Voters Think ObamaCare Will Lower Health Costs


The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely U.S. Voters shows that 57% at least somewhat favor repeal of the health care law, including 46% who Strongly Favor repeal. Thirty-seven percent (37%) at least somewhat oppose repeal, with 25% who are Strongly Opposed. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Just 34% of voters now think the health care law will be good for the country, a finding that has ranged from 31% to 41% since its passage. Fifty-one percent (51%) believe the law will be bad for the country, while only three percent (3%) feel it will have no impact.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters think health care costs will go up under the new law, while just 15% expect those costs to go down. Nineteen percent (19%) predict costs will stay about the same. Anywhere from 52% to 61% of voters have expected an increase in health care costs in weekly surveys since the law’s passage.



Connect with Benjamin Hodge at Facebook, TwitterLinkedIn, and The Kansas Progress. Hodge is Chairman of the State and Local Reform Group of Kansas. He served as one of seven at-large trustees at Johnson County Community College from 2005-’09, a member of the Kansas House from 2007-’08, and a delegate to the Kansas Republican Party from 2009-’10. His public policy record is recognized by Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Broadcasters Association, the Kansas Press Association, the NRA, Kansans for Life, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).


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