Tech Trends: Mobile Apps & Devices

Mobile Apps and Devices is a comprehensive listing of innovations within the field of mobile hardware or software technologies dedicated to the purpose of aiding healthcare professionals and students in their mission of providing better healthcare through study and interactivity.

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Cambridge Consultants’ Flow Health Hub Brings Lab Testing Home

FlowCambridge Consultants has released a concept for an at-home lab that may very likely be a reality in the near future. The device is known as the Flow Health Hub. The device would be compact, allowing for various, color-coded testing cartridges to be stored inside. The cartridges would be capable of testing a number of body fluids, including: blood, urine, and saliva; those testing blood would be equipped with a lancet and an integrated test strip. After the body fluid is inserted into the cartridge, users would then plug the cartridge into the Flow Health Hub, where the interactive display screen would provide quick, accurate, easy-to-read results. Users would also be able to use the Flow Health Hub to track their personal fitness and monitor existing conditions.

(Source: medGadget)

Valencell Introduces Earbud Heartrate Monitors

valencellWhile the use of heart rate monitors is nothing to new to fitness enthusiasts, many users find that their readings can at times inaccurate. Movement, sweat or clothing can all alter the readings on traditional wristband monitors. Now, North Carolina-based company, Valencell, has developed a device known as the PerformTek, which promises to deliver real-time, accurate heart rate readings during exercise. The PerformTek uses pulse oximetry technology similar to the fingertip sensors used in many hospitals and doctor’s offices. Pulse oximetry makes us of infrared light to measure blood flow, and thus, heart rate, respiration, and blood oxygen levels. Because the device works best in a dark environment with minimal movement, the ear– which is surrounded by a host of capillaries– is an ideal location for users to wear PerformTek. Additionally, Valencell’s developers noted that while most fitness enthusiasts were likely to forget their heart rate monitors before a workout, it was unlikely that they would forget their headphones.

As Valencell continues to perfect their design, they are aiming to provide their technology to headphone developers, which would allow the PerformTek to be inserted into a traditional pair of headphones that use a 3.5mm smartphone jack, eliminating the need for external power.

(Source: ieeeSpectrum)

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Bilicam App Detects Jaundice in Newborns

Bili-appEngineers and physicians at the University of Washington have worked together to develop the Bilicam App– an app which allows physicians and parents to detect jaundice in newborns. Jaundice is a condition that causes yellowing of the skin and eyes in newborns due to elevated bilirubin levels in the blood. If not treated immediately, the condition can lead to serious complications such as brain damage. The Bilicam App can detect jaundice in newborns with the use of a cellphone camera, flash, and a calibration card roughly the size of a business card.

Parents place the calibration card on the infant’s stomach and take a photograph with their smartphone through the app. The card properly calibrates the app, allowing it to detect color clearly even in darker skin tones. The app then checks for any yellowing or discoloration and gives parents an alert if the child may be at risk for jaundice and recommends a blood test. In an initial study of 100 newborns of varying skin tones, the Bilicam App detected jaundice as well as the standard detection tests. The developers are now working to expand the trial to include over 1000 newborns, especially those of darker skin tones. Developers are aiming to gain FDA approval within a couple of years.

(Source: medGadget)

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This Fitness Tracker is Shocking

fitness trackerNew company, Pavlok has developed a fitness tracker that aims to go beyond measuring calories burnt and sleep cycles, and goes as far as helping to motivate wearers to workout with light shocks. The device, which debuts in 2015 and will retail for between $149 and $229, delivers a small, 340 volt shock to the wearer when they skip workouts.

The Pavlok developers insist that the shocks do not hurt, but the sensation works to train the brain to recognize when it is time to workout. Users program their goals (for instance, to workout for 30 minutes 5 days a week), and if they meet these goals they are rewarded with gift cards or money, but repeatedly missing workouts means the wearer has to pay money to another Pavlok user. Pavlok developers hope this new tracker will help to motivate users in a way that no other fitness tracker on the market currently does.

(Source: Yahoo Tech)

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InteraXon’s Muse May Help to Manage Stress and Anxiety

museheadsetToronto start-up, InteraXon, has developed what will be a, “FitBit for the brain.” The company, which has been experimenting with the use of brain-wave technologies since its inception in 2007, says their new Muse device will allow users to measure their brain activity in the same way people now measure caloric intake and steps taken throughout the day. The Muse is a thin, white headset that can be worn comfortably across the forehead. The device measures brain waves in the same way an EEG would, and wirelessly transfers the data collected to a smartphone or tablet, where the information is synced with an app known as Calm.

The goal is that the device will be used daily. The accompanying Calm app utilizes information gathered by the Muse headset to allow users to visually track their stress management. Additionally, the app is equipped with several coaching programs which help users develop controlled, focused thinking, teaches users to meditate, and will also help users to control stress and anxiety. The developers see a wide range of uses for the Muse headset and Calm app, and even envision the product being used to help children with hyperactivity and attention disorders, as well as aiding those in high-stress jobs by sending alerts to employers if a user is showing signs of mental fatigue.

(Source: Popular Science)

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Kosmo Begins Indiegogo Campaign to Launch Connected E-Cig

kosmo-ecigaretteAccording to studies, roughly 71% of people who begin using e-cigarettes do so because they believe it will help them kick the smoking habit altogether. However, because of the ease e-cigarettes offer (by allowing users to vape where smoking was previous prohibited such as restaurants and movie theaters) and variable nicotine amounts in each electronic cigarettes, many users often end up smoking more than they did before. Now, start-up company Kosmo is aiming to help those trying to use e-cigarettes as a quitting tool with the creation of an e-cig that comes with an accompanying app.

The app offers users instant feedback (data is transmitted to smartphones through bluetooth each time users take a pull). The app then tracks and charts how often the cigarettes are used, giving users a visual tool. In addition, users can program the app with a cessation program that coaches them by providing users with a daily cap of pulls, lowering the amount of allotted pulls over time.

Kosmo is still conducting its Indiegogo campaign and hopes to use the funds to begin manufacturing and marketing the product soon.

(Source: medGadget)

The Future of Contraceptives Could Lay in a Chip

microchipsBorrowing from a technology that is currently being used to replace daily injections for osteoporosis patients, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is funding the development of a long-term contraceptive that would be controlled by a smart phone. The device would likely be an injectable chip just 1.5cm in size, containing the contraceptive levonogestrel. If the device is successful, it could prevent pregnancy for up to 16 years (far longer than the currently longest-lasting contraceptive, and IUD, which lasts only 7 years).

The contraceptive chip, which shows greatest promise for use in third world countries where there are very few family-planning options, is still in the experimental stage. Developers are trying to be certain that the device will only be able to be controlled by the user before submitting it for FDA approval.

(Source: Engadget)

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Smartphone App to Potentially Monitor Schizophrenic Patients

schizophrenia stockZucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, NY is now embarking on an experiment to test the effectiveness of CrossCheck, a smartphone app designed to keep track of schizophrenic patients and determine if a relapse is likely. John Kane, the chairman of psychiatry at the hospital says that patients come in once a month for therapy after being discharged. However, doctors have no way of monitoring their behavior in between appointments, and patients may get themselves into legal trouble or physical danger in the lapse between sessions.

150 patients with a schizophrenia diagnosis that were discharged from Zucker Hillside within the past year have been chosen for this experiment. Half of those patients will receive standard hospital procedures following discharge while the other half will be monitored using the CrossCheck app. The app has various sensors which monitor location via GPS, how quickly the user is moving (to determine if they are walking, running, or sedentary), it also monitors frequency and duration of conversations (but not content) in person and over the phone with the use of a small microphone, and finally determines how often and for how long patients are sleeping by determining when the phone is idle. When any of these sensors detect behavior that is a known sign of relapse– such as irregular sleeping patterns, rapid speech or constant movements– patients with the CrossCheck app will receive an alert suggesting they seek professional help. Additionally, the program investigators at the hospital will receive a notification as well.

All of these trackers may seem excessive and dangerous considering schizophrenic patients are predisposed to paranoia. However, patients in the experiment will receive an education component, informing them of what the sensors will be looking for and reminding patients that the app is a combined effort between the patient and doctor to keep the patient healthy.

(Source: ieeeSpectrum)

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EXOGEN Ultrasound Bone Healing System Now Available in the US

Already available in Australia, Canada and Europe, the EXOGEN ultrasound bone healing system is now available in the United States. The device, which helps promote healing in fractures which are not recuperating adequately, delivers low-energy pulsed ultrasound directly to the broken bone. These low-energy waves can promote natural healing of the fracture.

The device also comes with a calendar outlining the treatment schedule and keeps track of when treatment was applied, allowing both doctors and users to track progress. In addition, the device has an accompanying Android/ iOS app which sets reminders and tracks progress. For more information on the EXOGEN bone healing system, watch the video above.

(Source: medGadget)

HealthPatch MD Earns FDA Clearance

HealthPatch-MDA San Jose, California-based company, Vital Connection, has received FDA clearance for its HealthPatch MD device. The device, which features a disposable patch and reusable sensor that connects to another device via Bluetooth, is programmed to keep track of patient vital signs. The HealthPatch MD is worn across the chest and monitors with one lead ECG, keeps track of heart rate, heart rate variability, skin temperature, and respiratory rate. The device is also equipped with an accelerometer to measure the angle of the wearer’s body to determine if there has been a fall.

The HealthPatch MD, which is ideal to monitor elderly patients who are often alone, can be worn from 48-72 and is attached using either a silicone or hydrocolloid adhesive, depending on the user’s activity level. The device is already available in Europe.

(Source: medGadget)

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Cue Launches Lab-in-a-Box for Home

cue-and-cartridges-above-viewDuring the Swine Flu outbreak of 2009, the founders of Cue launched an at-home testing device which allowed users to test for the illness in  their homes. They noticed that people found the at-home tests more accurate, affordable and convenient than visiting the doctor and waiting for lab results. Following their initial success, the developers of Cue are now expanding their device to be capable of conducting other popular diagnostic tests, such as those for fertility and vitamin deficiency.

The new Cue is what the developers consider a, “deep health tracker.” The device syncs with your smartphone via Bluetooth to an app which analyzes the data collected by the device (via blood or saliva). The ideal is that a person would be able to monitor their fertility and time when would be best to try and get pregnant, or be able to determine whether a new diet or exercise routine is beneficial to their health– all without having to wait in line at an emergency room or doctor’s office. In addition to being convenient, the Cue uses an automated analysis system which reduces much of the human error that can occur in traditional lab tests. In trials, the Cue was found to be as accurate as traditional lab tests, and at times even more accurate.

The device is not set to release until the first half of 2015 and will retail for $300, though pre-orders are now offered at $199.

(Source: Tech Crunch)

First Opinion App Launches New Version

first-opinion-matched-screenThe text-a-doctor service offered by the First Opinion App has launched a new version. The iOS App works by matching users with a physician that can answer a wide range of medical questions. The service– which offers a free consultation monthly or packages starting from $12 that allow for three or more consultations each month– works by having users fill in only their names and e-mail addresses to protect privacy. First Opinion then takes roughly under one minute to match users with a physician who can answer their questions via text. The app was originally designed for preventative care. For instance, expectant mothers would time their contractions and text this information to a doctor who would advise them whether or not it was time to go to the hospital. However, the app has since expanded to include users with insomnia or anxiety disorders. Overall, those getting the most benefit out of the app are patients who would have otherwise experienced “rejection visits”– those where they wait for hours on end to see a doctor only to have the doctor tell them not to come back unless the condition becomes worse.

The newer version includes a greater variety of doctors and employing staff to work during the day and night so that patients can receive a consultation at their convenience.

(Source: TechCrunch)

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Propeller Sensor for Metered Dose Inhalers Receives FDA Approval

asthmapolis-propellerPropeller Health has received FDA approval for its inhaler-use sensor and accompanying app. The device works by recording whether or not patients have taken the proper dosage of their medication and then sends an alert to caregivers via Bluetooth. The Propeller Sensor is ideal for parents of asthmatic children or caregivers for those with uncontrollable asthma or COPD. Finally, the system includes coaching for  users and their caregivers to promote proper inhaler use and how to optimize control over symptoms.

(Source: medGadget)

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Insight Notes for iOS to Simplify Digital Notes for Doctors

The new Insight Notes app for iOS aims to be a simple, secure way for doctors to keep track of their patients’ medical records on their devices while still remaining HIPAA compliant. The app costs $9.99 in the App Store, but without the use of the $14.99 monthly fee which includes the ability to print or transmit notes and records, as well as keep an off-site secure back-up of all information the app is greatly limited. Insight Notes works as a simple EMR, allowing doctors to organize all of their information on each patient, as well as make scans and add notes. The target group for the Insight Notes app are doctors who do most if not all note-taking on their iPads, but want a more secure way to keep track of their notes. The video above gives a tutorial of the app.

(Source: medGadget)

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Withings Updated Blood Pressure Monitor Receives FDA Clearance

Withing’s updated blood pressure monitor has just received FDA clearance. The device is wrapped around the arm like a traditional blood pressure monitor. However, it uses Bluetooth 4.0 technology to sync with any iOS or Android-based device. The monitor connects to the smartphone when it is turned on and a remote command from the smartphone controls when the monitor begins taking its measurements. The accompanying app allows for progress to be tracked, stored and sent to your doctor. The device, which debuted at CES and received its FDA approval, retails for $129.95.

(Source: medGadget)

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Prep Pad Allows for More Accurate Nutrition Measurements

Countertop-and-Prep-Pad-Pre-Release-2As the health movement continues to grow, the practice of weighing food and keeping track of calories and nutrients has moved beyond the realm of body builders and physical trainers and into the average person’s home. However, traditional calorie tracking can be difficult because of differences in exact portion sizes, and scales don’t give exact nutrient information, though they do give an accurate measure of portion size. The Prep Pad, a food scale with an accompanying app, helps to limit both of these pitfalls. Food is placed on the scale to get the exact measurement, in addition, users type which food it is into the app, and nutrition information is given for the particularly food and its portion.

The Prep Pad is available for retail at Williams-Sonoma and costs $149.95

(Source: The New York Times)

Garmin’s Vivofit Fitness Tracker

connectuivivoreviewGarmin, the company which specializes in GPS devices is now trying its hand at the very popular fitness tracker market. The result is the Vivofit, a wristband which is comparable with Nike’s FuelBand. The Vivofit has the look and feel of a 1980’s digital watch, and while reviewers found it a bit unattractive and itchy if moisture gets trapped underneath, overall the readings the device provided were very thorough.

The Vivofit accurately measures steps, heart rate, calories burned and overall activity levels. The device can be programmed with fitness goals and adjusts your daily fitness goals in relation to how well you did the previous day. In addition, the Vivofit monitors your sleep patterns and knows when to go into sleep mode regardless of if you forget to set them. Overall, reviewers at Engadget found that it was one of the most comprehensive fitness trackers currently available.

(Source: Engadget)

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The Experior Medical App


Created for the iPad, the Experior Medical apps is designed to test the skills and knowledge of medical students and health professionals.  The app contains an intelligent learning system that adapts to a user’s responses allowing the program to test and identify weaknesses. The practice tests are created to replicate real examinations as closely as possible and can provide individual feedback instantaneously.  The app, which can be downloaded from the App Store, additionally allows students to compare their performance with others.  With a large high quality image library, Experior Medical app creators, hope the app will improve radiology diagnostic skills.

(Source: Experior Medical)

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Appcessory Helps Expectant Mothers Keep Track of Their Babies

For women who are considering the home-birth route, or for those who simply want to track their baby’s in0vitro progress a little more closely, there is now the Bellabeat. Bellabeat is a fetal heart monitor which is plugged into a smart phone’s headphone jack, allowing mothers to hear their child’s heartbeat outside of the doctor’s office. The Bellabeat, which retails for $129 and comes with an accompanying app for iOS and Android, allows mothers to keep track of their baby’s progress, keep track of doctor’s appointments and milestones, and share their readings with other expectant mothers, as well as friends and family.

While the app offers women greater autonomy over their pregnancy, doctors caution that the Bellabeat should not be a replacement for doctor’s visits. With a tool such as this, it may at times be difficult to distinguish the sounds of the mother’s own heartbeat and blood flow from that of the baby’s. However, the Bellabeat in conjunction with regular doctor’s visits could be useful in helping women have healthier pregnancies.

(Source: YahooNews)

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