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Tag Archives: Health

Autom Personal Weight Loss Coach

Autom Personal Weight Loss Coach (Image courtesy Intuitive Automata)
By Andrew Liszewski

Sticking to a diet or weight loss plan is a lot easier when you have a little positive reinforcement. And that seems to be what inspired MIT alum Cory Kidd to create Autom. She’s billed as a robotic weight loss coach, but that’s maybe being a little generous with the term ‘robot’. Her head and eyes do move, but otherwise she’s mostly just a stationary touchscreen tablet that lets you keep track of your nutritional and exercise habits. It’s her software, though, that makes Autom really effective. Every day multiple users can have conversations with her where they input their meals, or how much physical activity they got in throughout the day. Autom will then provide praise, or encouragement, depending on how close they are to achieving their weight loss goals.

I actually think it’s a great way to help a diet be successful, I just wish Autom wasn’t so expensive. She’s available for pre-order for just $195, but when she ships the remaining balance is an additional $670. For a total of $865, plus a monthly subscription plan of $79.95! I’m not sure how that compares to other weight loss plans, but it seems all of Autom’s functionality could also be provided via a considerably cheaper iPad app.

[ Autom Personal Weight Loss Coach ] VIA [ Automaton ]

GE’s Optima MR430s Compact MRI Machine Targets Just Limbs

GE Optima MR430s MRI Machine (Image courtesy GE)
By Andrew Liszewski

While it can be an essential tool for diagnosing what’s wrong with a patient, MRI machines are large, noisy, expensive and can be extremely uncomfortable to be inside. Many people find them cramped and claustrophobic, which can be particularly difficult since you have to lie perfectly still for long periods of time to get a clean image. So GE has created a considerably smaller MRI machine that’s specifically designed to be used for imaging a patient’s limb.

Besides requiring smaller rooms and being considerably more affordable for a hospital, the new Optima MR430s is also far more comfortable for the patient. They sit or recline in an adjustable padded chair and insert their arm or leg into the machine. And since they’re more comfortable while the MRI is doing its thing, they’re less prone to moving about which results in clearer images and results. What sets GE’s new compact MRI machine apart from other compact solutions is that it still uses a powerful 1.5T (Teslas) magnet which means there are no compromises when it comes to image quality. And while the MR430s is limited in that it can only handle limbs, it does free up a hospital’s full-body machine when only a limited part of a patient’s body needs to be imaged.

[ GE Optima MR430s MRI Machine ] VIA [ GreenBiz ]

BabySound Fetal Heart Rate Monitor

BabySound Fetal Heart Rate Monitor (Image courtesy Chinavasion)
By Andrew Liszewski

Even if you don’t have kids, we all know that a baby can be expensive. And finding a way to save money and make every dollar count is an important part of raising a family. So instead of going to an expensive obstetrician for regular checkups during your pregnancy, you can now monitor your baby at home and save! Chinavasion’s selling this BabySound fetal heart rate monitor for ~$23 that lets you keep tabs on your unborn infant’s heartbeat. Whether it be for peace of mind, for listening for worrisome anomalies, or just plain curiosity. It’s apparently completely safe to use, and is sensitive enough to pick up a heart beat from as early as 10-12 weeks in to your pregnancy.

And from what I can tell, it’s probably still useful after your child is born too. When placed against a bedroom door it could be used to monitor private conversations or phone calls. Perfect for the concerned parent who develops into a nosy one.

[ BabySound Fetal Heart Rate Monitor ] VIA [ 7Gadgets ]

Etymotic’s HD•15 High Definition Electronic Earplugs

Etymotic's HD•15 High Definition Electronic Earplugs (Image courtesy Etymotic)
By Andrew Liszewski

I’m going to knock them a few points for abusing the term ‘high definition’, but otherwise Etymotic’s new HD•15 electronic earplugs look like a far better alternative to those yellow or orange foam tubes you keep swiping from work. Your run-of-the-mill earplug simply blocks all (or most) noises from entering your ear canal. So while they’re fine for activities like sleeping, they’re not so great when you also need to hear people talking to you.

So the HD•15′s feature a built-in microphone that monitors the ambient noise around the user. When it’s loud, such as at a construction site, it naturally blocks out the harsh noises from equipment and vehicles. But when that din dies down and you want to talk to someone, the earplugs detect the change in noise and allow voices to be heard via their mic/speaker system. They can even be used to boost particularly quiet sounds or voices, but automatically return to protecting your hearing when the ambient noises get loud again. As you can probably expect, at $499/pair they’re not cheap. But they look to be a lot more comfortable to wear than a large pair of headphones or ear protectors, while still letting you hear when you need to.

[ Etymotic's HD•15 High Definition Electronic Earplugs ] VIA [ I New Idea ]

Transparent Face Masks Look A Little Less Intimidating

Masclear Transparent Face Masks (Images courtesy Masukuria)
By Andrew Liszewski

I understand why people living in crowded, urban city centers are often seen wearing face masks. But it doesn’t make it any less unnerving for me. I always think they’re fleeing some plague cloud I’m unaware of, and the fact that most of their face is obscured doesn’t help.

That’s probably why the Masclear caught my eye. It provides most of the same protection of a paper or cloth face mask. Namely stopping the wearer’s saliva and breath from spreading to others, and vice versa. But it’s made from a clear plastic shield so the wearer’s mouth is always visible, and it’s easy to clean and reuse again and again. They seem ideal for applications where someone wearing a mask has to deal with the public (and hence smile) and are available in small and large sizes that are further adjustable to fit every wearer.

[ Masclear Face Masks ] VIA [ Inventor Spot ]

FitDesk – Another Exercise While You Work Solution

FitDesk (Images courtesy FitDesk)
By Carole Sinclair

I’m just as un-keen on exercise and work as the next… well… everybody. So picking off these two birds with one stone is always the dream. Our desk-based work days have been blamed for their fair share of our oft-lamented ‘sedentary lifestyles’, and solutions like those office-chair-bouncy-ball-thingys don’t suit everyone’s tastes. (*Rubs tailbone*) We’ve probably also all seen other uber-fit solutions like working at a computer while walking on a treadmill. But doing that for 8 hours straight can be grueling at best, and a safety hazard at worst.

Enter the FitDesk. It’s an exercise bike with a usable desk attached where you’d normally find the handlebars. You’re technically still sitting and working while using it, but you’re also pedaling, building muscle and burning calories throughout the day. With a treadmill workstation, when you decide to stop walking you’re either left standing and working for hours at a time, or risk admitting that you’ve abandoned yet another exercise endeavor. But when you take a break with the FitDesk, you’re still comfortably seated, leaving you plenty of endurance to keep exercising and building up the strength to eventually win the rat race. (Or at least place respectfully.)

The resistance of the pedaling can be adjusted for a more intense workout as desired, and the whole unit folds up so it can be stashed away in a closet if used at home. Unfortunately I don’t see a way to secure the laptop, which is a little worrisome given it sits perched pretty high, and an untimely fall from your sweaty hands could easily be its demise. I guess that’s where duct tape and bungee cords come in. It’s also $229, which is kind of expensive for a pretty basic exercise bike. Even with a built-in ‘desk’.

[ FitDesk ] VIA [ 7Gadgets ]

Fresh Vending Machines Strike A Balance Between Junk Food And Fruit

Fresh Healthy Vending Machines (Image courtesy Fresh Healthy Vending)
By Andrew Liszewski

If you frequent a vending machine at work or school you’ve probably learned to silence that little voice inside telling you there are far healthier snacking alternatives. But at the same time, there’s nothing more boring than a vending machine filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. So a San Diego-based vending company has come up with a nice compromise. Their ‘Fresh Healthy Vending’ machines are still packed with snacks like cookies, chips, crackers and juices, but they’re all from companies who use organic or all-natural ingredients. In other words, they provide a far healthier way to deal with the munchies.

The machines can be packed with snacks from over 500 recognized brands, which tend to lean towards items like granola bars, smoothies, yogurts, etc. instead of chocolate bars and candy. They’re also a bit on the high-tech side, with dual zone climates for keeping dairy based products fresh, payment systems that accept credit and debit cards in addition to coins and bills, and even remote wireless monitoring of stock and sales. Since organic and other healthier snacks tend to cost more than your typical vending machine fare, I think the Fresh machines face some tough competition from their incumbent rivals. But maybe snacking guilt will give them a big advantage.

[ Fresh Healthy Vending Machines ] VIA [ PSFK ]

Scosche myTREK Measures Your Pulse Without The Need For A Chest Strap

Scosche myTREK (Images courtesy Scosche)
By Andrew Liszewski

Typically, the only way to get an accurate measurement of your pulse while exercising was to have a monitor strapped to your chest, which was then connected to some kind of display for monitoring your performance. But Scosche’s new myTREK does away with the chest strap, instead moving it to your forearm where it’s more comfortable to wear. It’s also completely wireless, connecting to your iPhone or iPod over Bluetooth (with a range of ~30 feet) feeding information about your pulse and motion to an accompanying free myTREK app.

And it’s that app that will probably make the myTREK system appealing to persons who are very serious about their physical fitness. Besides displaying your pulse, the app also tracks everything from calories burned, distance run, speed and pace (when used with a GPS-equipped iPhone) over time. So you can go back and compare your results and stats to previous workouts to see how you’ve improved. And while exercising, the app even lets you set specific workout goals, like a target heart rate, complete with voice prompts letting you know how close you are to reaching it. Available now for $129.99.

[ Scosche myTREK ]

Wrist Worn Bite Counter Keeps Track Of Every Forkful

Bite Counter (Images courtesy Clemson University)
By Andrew Liszewski

Exercise is an important part of being physically fit, and step counters are a useful way to ensure you’re getting enough physical activity in your life. But eating healthy is just as important, so two researchers from Clemson University have created a bite counter, which basically works like a pedometer for eating. Since there’s no impact when eating with utensils, the bite counter, which looks like a fairly mundane digital wristwatch, tracks the wrist-roll motion of someone eating with a fork or spoon to keep track of every bite they take.

The device, which can be easily started and stopped at the beginning and end of a meal, has been found to be more than 90% accurate when it comes to counting bites. But, the researchers still aren’t sure how it can be used to help with weight loss, given there’s currently no way to determine how many calories or what amount of food has been consumed in each bite. So the device will continue to be tested and used in additional research as to how this collected data can be used to benefit the eater. And if you’d like to help out, you can actually purchase one here for just $799.

[ PR - Clemson University researchers are making every bite count ] VIA [ CNET ]