Wearable tech R&D hub launched by Obama Administration in Silicon Valley
Sep01

Wearable tech R&D hub launched by Obama Administration in Silicon Valley

When he started wearing that Fitbit Surge earlier this year, President Obama had grander plans for the integration of wearable tech into our society than we ever could have imagined. On August 28, the Obama Administration announced that the Department of Defense would invest $75 million in a “flexible hybrid electronics” innovation center in Silicon Valley. It will be called the Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Flexible Hybrid Electronics. This isn’t the first research and development center funded by the government. The White House has already brought to life eight other R&D operations, whose focuses range from 3D printing to WBG semiconductor technology and other advanced manufacturing innovations. The teams in Silicon Valley will be led by FlexTech Alliance, a public-private manufacturing consortium based in San Jose, to “secure U.S. ‘leadership in next-generation bendable and wearable electronic devices.” The goal is to go far beyond step tracking and to “unleash wearable devices to improve medical health monitoring and personal fitness; soft robotics to care for the elderly or assist wounded soldiers; and light weight sensors embedded into the very trellises and fibers of roads, bridges, and, and other structures across the globe.” Overall, the Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Flexible Hybrid Electronics received a total investment of $171 million to lead a consortium of 162 companies, nonprofits, labs and universities, including big names like Apple, Motorola, Kodak, John Deere, and Boeing.  At the time of the announcement, the White House published a list of possible wearable tech applications including but not limited to: Revolutionizing electronic wearable information devices to monitor vital signs and physical states to optimize health and lifestyles decisions. Dramatically improving medical technology delivery — through biomarkers and device implants — which can monitor vital signs for the elderly, those with chronic conditions, and our soldiers during combat.  Enabling embedded sensors to monitor the state of commercial automobiles and aircrafts operating in harsh environments such as undersea pressures or extreme temperatures. Improving security operations, with applications in light weight robotics, as well as, next generation imaging and sensing capabilities, used across the entire spectrum of land, air, sea, and space-based systems. Dramatically reducing the electronic systems package size and weight through electronics that conform to complex shapes such as aircraft wings or unattended vehicle platforms, and integrating electronics in clothing and fabrics. In addition to the above information, the White House released a thorough fact sheet regarding the hub, followed by a strong call to action. “The Administration is also calling on Congress to make a clear choice: We can make critical bipartisan investments to strengthen manufacturing across the United States, laying a strong foundation for good jobs and economic growth —...

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Google X develops mystery wearable for doctors only
Jun30

Google X develops mystery wearable for doctors only

As predicted by the Simpsons over a year ago, Google took another step closer to becoming our technology overlord by releasing information on a secret new device aimed at patient-centered care. The Life Sciences Division of Google X, an R&D section of Google that has gained notoriety for its secrecy, is developing the unnamed smartwatch. The new device will be able to monitor pulse, heart rhythm, and skin temperature. External factors, such as noise levels and light exposure, will also be monitored. The new smartwatch could be the answer to all those who want more out of their wearable tech, or were royally disappointed with the Apple Watch. Just don’t hold your breath. Google announced that the new device would be accessible specifically for doctors, not general consumers. In an interview with Bloomberg, Andy Conrad, head of the Life Science program, believes that prevention means being aware of bodily state at any given moment. “I envision a day, in 20 or 30 years, where physicians give it to all patients,” said Conrad. “Prevention means all the time.” The new device could face an uphill battle to become recognized for medical use by the Food and Drug Administration, since the regulating agency recently put out new guidelines distinguishing for General Wellness products. In the publication, the FDA clarifies between Low Risk General Wellness products and Wellness products. Currently, smartwatches would be considered Low Risk wellness products, but if Google wants them to be issued by doctors, then they will have to qualify as General Wellness products. Google X is currently testing new products, like the smartlens and the self-driving car, but this particular faction of Google isn’t focusing on the next few years. Google X takes aim at long-term projects, sometimes well past the decade mark, that often get labeled as moonshots. Whatever mystical products Google X puts out, we are sure to go crazy over...

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`Experts at McLaren are developing a wearable jet lag remedy
May19

`Experts at McLaren are developing a wearable jet lag remedy

Ever feel like if it weren’t for jet lag you would have several more days of feeling like a productive human being on vacation? Formula 1 team McLaren does too, which is why they have announced plans to create a new wearable device designed to combat that feeling of staleness generally associated with a long flight. What distinguishes McLaren’s future jet lag remedy from countless health gadgets on the market is its intelligence; rather than merely track and record vitals, the technology actually documents what you were doing to cause your body to behave the way that it did. “[T]he next time the algorithms start to see a similar pattern, the app will recognize that the last time you did this, your body reacted in a certain way. It will then make a predictive leap to say that if you continue on that path, this is how you’ll feel,” says Duncan Bradley, head of High-Performance Design at McLaren’s Applied Technologies team (MAT). The idea here is that the app will begin to learn what makes you feel a certain way and then prompt you to adjust your behavior based on this information. “We’ll then tell you the interventions you can make and what the likely results would be of those changes, so you can be proactive and take control,” says Bradley. Although MAT’s language is ambiguous and details are scarce (“You’ll be offered information about interventions, even if they’re counter-intuitive,” seems vague at best), it is certainly nice to think we may have devices in the future capable of generating idiosyncratic algorithms dedicated to making us feel the best we can, especially when these devices are the brainchild of the traveling experts at F1. McLaren has not set a release date, but let us hope this technology becomes a reality sooner rather than...

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IBM goes heavy in big data, hopes to make wearables talk to doctors
Apr18

IBM goes heavy in big data, hopes to make wearables talk to doctors

Wearables are being woven into the fabric of the healthcare industry on a regular basis, and international technology giant IBM soon hopes to make wearables talk to doctors. IBM is no stranger to taking on projects revolving around big data and is reportedly investing $3 billion into an Internet of Things unit. The company estimates that 90 percent of data generated by mobile and “smart” devices is never analyzed. (A refresher: the Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of everyday objects (like bicycles or microwaves) that operate with electronics, softwares, sensors and connectivity. These objects can collect and exchange data with other devices. IoT operates within the current Internet structure. It’s a revolutionary network that has been incredibly beneficial to the adoption of wearable technology.) The Associated Press reports, “IBM is training more than 2,000 consultants, researchers and developers to help businesses come up with new ways to use the vast amounts of data that are now available, said Glenn Finch, Big Data and Analytics Lead at IBM Global Business Services. This could mean combining Twitter data with economic and weather data to predict what someone might be interested in buying.” Not surprisingly, some of the most important data from IoT can be applied to the health industry. “The cost of healthcare continues to grow,” senior vice president at IBM Research and Watson architect John Kelly told the Washington Post. “We need better outcomes — we see a number of diseases that are exploding, from diabetes to cancer.” Kelly says that expanding into the healthcare business only makes sense. IBM is teaming up with Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic for this health-related venture. As of right now, their goal is to take data from wearable devices and make them useful not only to you, but to your physician. The company plans on doing this with a cloud specifically for global health analytics. Physicians have already begun adapting to wearables and collecting big data, but they don’t know what to do with almost 80 percent of it because it’s not structured yet. Hopefully, with the help of IBM, doctors can further benefit from IoT and big health...

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How Jiff’s healthcare technology platform incentivizes employees
Apr01

How Jiff’s healthcare technology platform incentivizes employees

Jiff wants to revolutionize the “one-size-fits-all” approach to employer healthcare benefits. The Palo Alto company, whose board includes entrepreneur Stan Chudnovsky and Jiff co-founder James Currier, is using wearables to gamify employee health progress with personalized incentives. To date, Jiff has raised nearly $26 million. Jiff’s enterprise health benefits platform saves employers money by organizing and curating relevant vendors for each employee. The program allows employees to choose what wearables (FitBit, JawBone, Apple Watch) will suit their lifestyles, all of which can be purchased through Jiff’s online store. Jiff then gives employees incentives to use those wearables on a regular basis. If employees meet their goals, they receive rewards like vouchers and credit toward healthcare costs. Not only does Jiff customize its platform for each company it works with, but each company can customize rewards for employees. For instance, the incentives given to an employee with diabetes may look nothing like those assigned to a non-diabetic. “All employees are different, so incentives should be, too — and Jiff is the only platform that allows employee-level personalization,” said Bryan Roberts of Venrock, the venture capital firm that led Jiff’s Series B fundraising round. Right now, over 300,000 employees have access Jiff’s services. Jiff CEO Derek Newell recently told Fortune that workforce adoption rates range from 50 to 80 percent. Companies that currently use Jiff include Activision Blizzard, Henry Schien, Red Bull and Qualcomm. Let’s hope that healthy employees are happy employees. After all, happy employees are productive to...

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