The healthcare industry is increasingly dependent on digital technology for tracking and managing everything from medical records to vital signs. But a growing number of products and services, many of which rely on mobile phones and other wireless connections, are targeting tech-savvy consumers seeking to improve their own health. Here’s a list of 10 innovative health and wellbeing gadgets which can make the time at your workstation more pleasurable.
We’ve all read the disgusting statistics which suggest that our computer peripherals are dirtier than toilet seats, which is why this latest gadget should do so well. Germ Genie (£140) blasts UV light onto the keyboard at the germ-killing wavelength of 254 nanometers to sanitise work stations on a regular basis with no need for any effort from the user. It uses patent pending sensing technology to monitor the area and wait until there has been no activity for 1 minute before running a sanitisation cycle for approximately 1 further minute. Germ Genie repeats this process throughout the day, after each use, and has been shown to kill 99% of bacteria under normal usage. The big advantage of the Germ Genie over other sanitisation methods is that it does not require you to do anything at all—unlike wipes or other UV cleaners, the Germ Genie remains in place at all times, and when it senses an opportunity to sanitise the keyboard, it does so automatically, so not only does the keyboard get sanitised after every use, but don’t need to taking time out of your busy day to sanitise.
The GymyGym ($599) helps you exercise and stay active, right where you sit. The ergonomic exercise chair places a full body workout at your disposal without ever having to leave your desk. Sitting back on the stripped bungee seating system molds itself to your shape and size for a comfortably ergonomic fit and various handles and straps located below the chair allow you to undertake 16 core exercises aimed at strengthening all of the major muscle groups. The hand grips are attached to the body of the chair by magnets for safe storage when not in use, and the leg straps are secured to a system of natural silicone resistance bands threaded through the underneath of—and up behind—the seat, to four exercise stations. Pulling against the resistance allows you to work on arms, legs, chest, back and shoulders and so on. When you stand up from the chair, a locking mechanism activates in the wheels to allow for stable standing exercises, and releases again once you sit back in the chair. The chair is available in three color versions—all-black, orange on black or red on black—and supports weight up to and above 300 pounds.
Over the years, ergonomic computer mice and keyboards have reinvented themselves to alleviate computer-related repetitive strain injuries (RSIs). The Ergoroller ($24.95), however, redesigns the wrist support to achieve the same ends. Similar to a conventional wrist support, it provides a place to rest your mousing arm, so you’re not constantly straining to hold it in position. Unlike one, however, it contains two rows of steel bearings, that massage your tendons and ligaments as you move your hand. The gizmo promotes blood flow through the carpal tunnel and promotes proper wrist alignment. If you’ve already had carpal tunnel surgery, it can help break up the internal scar tissue and help restore your range of motion. It can also be used on the feet, or anywhere else that needs de-stressing. The steel bearings pop out for cleaning.
Getting’s one’s blood pressure measured at a pharmacy or clinic is a hassle. Not any more—“there’s an app for that”. The iHealth Blood Pressure Monitoring System ($99.95) and iHealth Scale allow you to measure and track your blood pressure and weight via your iOS device—iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. The iHealth Blood Pressure Monitoring System consists of a blood pressure arm cuff wired to a portable dock, along with the free iHealth app, which you run on your chosen iDevice to keep track of your systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate. Placing your iDevice in the dock (which additionally serves as a charger) translates the cuff’s data into onscreen figures, tracking changes in blood pressure through interactive graphs, and summarising your statistics by time, date, and World Health Organization classification. Results can also be e-mailed to physicians or family members. The iHealth Scale lets you throw your weight data into the mix. This digital step-on scale runs on four AAA batteries and records weight in kilograms, pounds and stone. Data is transferred using Bluetooth.
Zamzee is a neat online rewards program that’s powered by physical activity. The smart USB device records how much you’re moving around and fuels your online experience. The best part? The more you move, the more you get. To earn rewards, you wear the Zamzee meter, a 3-axis accelerometer specially calibrated to record short bursts of movement as well as vigorous activity. Activity boosts your status within Zamzee and can be converted into spendable Zamz, a virtual currency used to purchase both online and tangible rewards. Users earn recognition, the opportunity to take part in a range of online activities, and the ability to acquire things they want based on how much they move in the real world—the more you go, the more you get.
The MDMouse is a USB optical mouse which includes a blood pressure monitor and an application software package that resides on a PC, where the blood pressure readings are displayed. Inside the standard-sized computer mouse is a blood pressure finger cuff that is placed over the index finger to allow blood pressure measurement. Additional components include a pneumatic pump to inflate and deflate the cuff and a pressure sensor to identify the pulse during cuff deflation, thus allowing for measurement of blood pressure by a standard method (the “oscillometric” method). These components, and the electrical power source and processing capabilities of the computer to which the MDMouse hardware is attached, comprise a highly accurate “sphygmomanometer”. The PC, using the installed MDMouse software, along with the MDMouse device, performs the calculations necessary to turn the digital data obtained by the sensor into useful information for display on the PC. Other features of the system include the ability to set alarms reminding you to take your blood pressure or medications and set appointments with the doctor.
Bluetooth 4.0 heart rate monitor
Developed by wireless sports & fitness monitoring developer and manufacturer Dayton Industrial and based on the performance of the Nordic µBlue nRF8001 chip, the Bluetooth 4.0 heart-rate chest belt allows anyone that owns a smartphone with the latest version 4.0 of Bluetooth will be able to set-up and use a wireless heart-rate (HR) belt within seconds. The significance of the product is that it could very well spur the development of a whole new range of Bluetooth low energy-based health and fitness apps that could include new ways of collecting, interpreting, and displaying HR training data—including motivational social media-based data and progress sharing. The heartrate belt is so energy-efficient that it will run for over 500 hours of usage (that’s 18 months of one-hour-a-day usage) on a CR2032 coin cell.
Elliptical Machine Office Desk
Power executives who don’t like wasting away in an old-fashioned chair will love this $8,000 desk from Hammacher Schlemmer. Consisting of an adjustable-height desk that pairs with a semi-recumbent elliptical trainer, it allows the average user (up to 300 lbs) to burn about 4,000 calories in a typical working week without break one’s concentration—or even causing one to break a sweat! And with a healthy body and a healthy mind said to go hand in hand, the setup might even make you more productive in the office. The desk’s height adjusts from 27-47″ at the press of a button, allowing you to easily switch to a favourite office chair or to work while standing. The elliptical machine’s padded seat slides along the frame to accommodate users of almost any stature, swivels for easy entry and exit, and has an adjustable backrest for comfort. Resistance is electronically controlled via the included performance monitor that tracks distance, watts, rpm, and calories burned, and displays information stored for up to 30 individuals on its 4 x 6″ LED screen.
The first of its kind in the world, Handyscope ($1590) converts an iPhone 3G/S and iPhone 4 into a digital dermatoscope for skin examinations. Designed for dermatologists, the handyscope includes a case into which an iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4 slides so that the iPhone’s camera aligns with the Handyscope’s lens system. The device is then placed flush against a patient’s skin, which is illuminated by polarised light from the built-in LEDs. The device features a standardised zoom and auto-focus with images captured with a single tap using the iPhone app. The images can be immediately viewed full screen with a magnification of up to 20x and saved. The shooting date and time is automatically recorded with saved the images, while patient data and other comments can also be added manually. The data is all encrypted and can be password protected so there’s no doctor/patient privilege privacy concerns. One of the big pluses of the device is the ease with which images of suspicious moles can be shared with colleagues or uploaded to a second opinion service where world-renowned specialists can weigh in with their view. The Handyscope has its own in-built 2,400mAh battery pack, which will keep the LEDs running for up to 8 hours and can be recharged with the standard iPhone USB cable.
Jawbone describes its forthcoming “Up” wrist sensor as “a revolutionary new system that tracks your movement, sleep patterns, and eating habits and puts that information in the palm of your hand.” Working in tandem with a comprehensive mobile app (compatible with both Android and iPhone), the Up will constantly be data-synced with your smartphone via Bluetooth. The Up wrist sensor is made of waterproof and shockproof materials, allowing you to wearing it in any condition. The Up wrist sensor will be released later this year with an unconfirmed price. You can sign up for a sneak preview of Up over at Jawbone’s Web site.