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Wellness wearables on display at Connected Health Symposium

Smart thermometers and gamification apps were among the mHealth platforms presented at Connected Health Symposium.

BOSTON -- For much of her adult life, Deborah Barlow has combatted depression, "down" moods and low energy, particularly during the fall and winter months -- feelings she attributes to lack of sunlight.

The 54-year-old Trumbull, Conn. resident, a cell researcher at Yale University Medical School, is one of some 25 million Americans with a form of seasonal affective disorder. Barlow shared that a big part of her treatment has been sitting near sunlight lamps at work and at home, but she was not able to reliably gauge just how much light she takes in.

Wearable sunlight tracker

However, in the few months since she has been wearing the SunSprite wearable sun and light tracker on her lapel and using the associated app from GoodLux Technology, Barlow has been able to measure and track her intake of sunshine and bright light. Light enters the body through the eyes, so the device, unlike many wrist-mounted wellness wearables, is placed as close to the face as possible.

Barlow already feels better, she said.

"Before, I had nothing to go by. That's what makes me excited about this," she said. "I like it because it motivates me to get sun. It's helped me a lot."

GoodLux Technology and other companies innovate

Meanwhile, GoodLux, the brainchild of Harvard University doctors, scientists and researchers, was among nine companies chosen to give rapid-fire 4.5-minute demos of their products on the high-profile main stage of the 11th annual Connected Health Symposium during the "Innovators Challenge" session.

The health tech devices and software programs developed mostly by startups and selected by an independent panel from several hundred entries, represented some of the coolest stuff at a show devoted to the most cutting-edge mHealth and telehealth gadgets and technologies out there.

The other "products that could make a difference," as the Connected Health organizers put it, were:

  • Fever Smart's smart patch thermometer, which enables real-time monitoring of children's temperatures by transmitting via the cloud to smartphones. The company's young CEO, Aaron Goldstein, touted the technology for, among other things, Ebola tracking.
  • SwyMed from swyMe, a remote diagnosis telehealth system based on encryption technology that allows doctors to communicate securely with caregivers in remote locations.
  • Beijing-based Raiing Medical Company's iThermonitor, a wearable thermometer that also monitors children's fevers and doubles as a smart fertility tracker.
  • Mevii, a smartphone app for managing depression, anxiety and stress in women, from Thrive 4-7, a female-owned company.
  • GoodLife, a gamification platform, and Empower, an app based on the platform, which enable newly diagnosed patients with chronic illness to use networking and games to change behavior to improve health. The products are from Ayogo, a Vancouver, British Columbia, firm founded and run by two former Facebook game designers, Paul Prescod and Michael Fergusson.
  • Mobile apps and online cloud services from Finland's iSTOC that enable remote diagnosis using analytics and disease surveillance.
  • The soon-to-be-introduced Peak smart wristwatch from Basis Science Inc., an Apple Watch rival whose maker was recently acquired by Intel Corporation to compete in the increasingly crowded health and wellness wearables space.
  • Interactive motion-based games from the Israeli company Timocco that improve developmental skills in children with autism, cerebral palsy, ADD, learning disabilities and other motor and cognitive problems.

Robots and smart beds

By no means, though, were these products, services and programs the only innovations showcased at the symposium.

For example, also displayed on the exhibit floor was the well-known VGo Communications Inc. robot, which patrols the corridors of hospitals and nursing homes across the country, and also works hard at patients' homes, allowing physicians to deliver telehealth checkups and diagnose problems.

And Withings, Inc. president Philippe Schwartz touted some of the fast-growing company's consumer electronics products, such as a "smart scale" that analyzes body mass index and indoor air quality, and a pad that turns a regular bed into a smart one.

As for GoodLux and its light-measuring and tracking wearable, CEO Ed Likovich, a Harvard grad with a physics PhD and background on Wall Street, told SearchHealthIT: "Our goal is ultimately to shift treatment of depression to the patient, who can manage their condition on their own with the aid of technology."

"That's the plan," Likovich said in an interview at the symposium. "A lot of medicine is going that way. That's what wearables are all doing."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Shaun Sutner, news and features writer, or contact @SSutner on Twitter.

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This was last published in October 2014

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