Dec 072014
 

20141201_190658

It is acknowledgeable that throughout human history, people have always recognized and maintained a sense of privacy. Nestled betwixt a plethora of issues facing this realization is the idea that there does not exist a single and precise definition of what exactly privacy constitutes. Dated research (circa 1881) presented an oversimplified yet often quoted idea that privacy was the “right to be let alone” (Craven Jr, 1979). It wasn’t until a few years later that the idea that privacy deserved legal protection began to circulate, spawning mass intellectual debates on the issue. Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis produced a highly influential essay in Harvard Law Review in 1890 that introduced the fundamental principle that “the individual shall have full protection in person and in property… it is our purpose to consider whether the existing law affords a principle which can properly be invoked to protect the privacy of the individual; and, if it does, what the nature and extent of such protection is” (p. 37). In American society, as well as other western cultures, one of the most clear cut and expected notions of privacy involves the ability to control exposure of one’s body (Konvitz, 1966). The author discusses how culturally we are made to believe that being naked is something to be seen as shameful (as passages from the bible give way to this), and we have a right to not be exposed without or consent. While this project doesn’t focus on the distribution of anything pertaining to a violation of someone’s right to maintain privacy of their naked body, it does touch on having a right to not be publicly displayed to others, whether it be in concern to their body, clothing, etc., within certain public or private spheres without their consent. In discussing video voyeurism, Lance Rothenberg said, “The failure of criminal law to recognize a legitimate expectation of privacy in the public space tacitly grants the video voyeur a license to act with impunity, and leaves victims with little or no recourse” (2011, p. 1146). Voyeurism in this case is the action of spying on persons engaged in intimate behavior, such as undressing or other sexual activity considered to be private nature.

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Dec 072014
 

 

 

The “Cardiac Rehab Patient Monitoring Jacket” is a jacket that is intended to help cardiac rehab nurses monitor patients. After a cardiac surgery, such as a bypass or a cardiac cath, most patients are required to participate in some form of cardiac rehabilitation. Often times this requires the patient to participate in monitored rehab therapy in a hospital gym. After a heart procedure it is very important that the patient monitor their heart rate to ensure that they do not exceed the threshold set by their physician. During the monitored gym exercise it is not uncommon to see a number of patients exercising at the same time, therefore requiring one cardiac rehab nurse to monitor multiple patients. Typically the patients are connected to heart rate monitors that are watched by employees on a screen at the nursing station, and an audible alarm is set to each patient. The difficulty with this is that there is potential for the alarm to go unnoticed if the noise level in the gym is high due to multiple patients using the equipment. Imagine monitoring a video screen with twenty treadmills running simultaneously, and having to listen for an audible alarm while dealing with a patient at the desk. There is a potential for a patient’s overexertion to go unnoticed. Even the patient may overlook that they have exceeded their threshold. It is not difficult to imagine a patient who does not realize that they are above their target heart rate simply because they were used to working out at a much higher level before they had their procedure. The “Cardiac Rehab Patient Monitoring Jacket” is a means to supplement the monitoring processes already set in place, and provide additional levels of safety to monitored cardiac rehab exercise.

Patient_Monitoring_JacketThe jacket allows that each user can have their heart rate threshold programmed into the jacket based on their physician’s recommendation. A 50 year old patient, who was an avid runner pre-procedure, who had a single cardiac cath inserted will likely have a higher threshold than a 65 year old patient who had triple bypass and lived a largely sedentary lifestyle. The limits would be set according to the patient’s perceived fitness level, and their physician’s suggested limits of physical activity. The patient will wear a wireless chest-strap heart rate monitor which is interfaced with the jacket. Once the heart rate limit is exceeded the 64 LED matrix will light up to signal that the patient needs to slow down and lower their heart rate. This not only allows for the cardiac rehab employee to monitor the patient, but will also signal the patient and other patients to the situation. If the employee was distracted by another patient, or failed to hear the audible alarm, then hopefully the patient would be made aware of their overexertion, or perhaps another patient who is in the gym.

The jacket is powered by two battery packs that use 4 AA batteries, and have on and off switches. The heart rate monitor Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 1.35.30 PMinterface (HRMI) is connected to an Arduino Uno, and the Arduino is connected to the Adafruit NeoPixel NeoMatrix 8×8. The program that runs the system allows that the heart rate threshold can be changed in the first few lines of the code to fit the designated parameters of each individual patient. The pixel matrix is activated once the heart rate threshold is exceeded, and will automatically turn off once the heart rate returns to normal. Taking into consideration that most cardiac patients are older, the simplicity of the jacket is a key factor in the success of its implementation. The cardiac rehab employee will program each Arduino based on consultation with the patient’s cardiologist, and each jacket will be assigned to one patient. As the patient recovers, the values of the threshold can be changed according to their physician’s recommendations. This will also allow that the patient has a simple means of self evaluation. A patient who is unfamiliar with using heart rate monitors can be easily taught that if their jacket lights up, they need to back off on their workout. This will help the patient in understanding their personal limits, and provide a simple means of monitoring how their fitness level was affected by their procedure.

The use of wearable technology in healthcare is not a new idea, and there are many products that incorporate vital signs in their features, but for these products to truly be effective, they must be simple enough for a patient with no clinical or technological background to use and understand. Bradley Quinn provides multiple examples of diagnostic textiles that are being used in healthcare, and notes the importance of wireless garments that monitor the patients “in a range of everyday situations” (Quinn, 2010). Quinn acknowledges garments such as the Heart Sensing Sports Bra, the Heart Sensing Racer Tank, and the Cardio Shirt for Men, but the impressive capabilities of these garments can also be considered a hindrance. These products often require additional software applications, and are designed for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. In some cases their technological capabilities can be a deterrent to users who are not tech savvy. It can be intimidating for a user to not only be required to monitor their vital signs, but to also have to learn new technology. Products like the Adidas micoach provide a variety of functions that could serve the same purposes as this project, but in the case of many patients, the additional time required to learn to use the product (and the added cost) would be one more stress factor that could be avoided with a more simple product that is focused on one key function. These products are also designed to provide the user with information that is used for fitness tracking and monitoring with no way to alert others that the user is in trouble. The simplicity of this project could be seen as a benefit to the patient and anyone in the general vicinity of the patient. Future versions of the project could include features that would allow for the jacket to be used outside of a hospital setting. Because the entire project operates independently of any hospital equipment, the patient could also use it during their daily exercise routine. After the patient has completed their required rehab schedule they could benefit from the reassurance that they could continue using the device. If an additional alarm was included in the project, it could be used as a means of alerting someone who is unfamiliar with the project that something is wrong. For example, a patient who has recently completed her monitored exercises takes daily walks in her neighborhood. During one particularly hot day, she begins to feel fatigued and exceeds her preset threshold. The device is activated, and the LED matrix lights up and an alarm sounds. This could alert anyone passing by that the woman is in need of help. Whether the person passing by is familiar with the product or not, it would be clear that something was wrong, and it would be likely that they would notice the alarm and lights, and hopefully this would prompt the good samaritan to investigate. Complexity does not always equate to increased functionality, and it is likely that there is a large population who would welcome a product that provides a simple (but potentially life-saving) service.

References:

http://micoach.adidas.com/

Quinn, Bradley. “Vital Signs.” Textile Futures: Fashion, Design and Technology. Oxford: Berg, 2010. 85-107.

Nov 192014
 

By: Jade Lawson

Fitness trackers have some new competition and the future of popular fitness bands is changing.

The OMsignal biometric smartwear is breaking ground on a new, unexplored, area of fitness wear that allows users to measure heart rate, breathing rate, breathing depth, activity intensity, steps taken, calories burned, and heart rate variability. Measurement of these areas is possible in some of today’s top fitness bands and smartwatches, but these new shirts allow for a wider range of usage than just fitness or light daily activity. Popular fitness tracking bands like Fitbit Flex and Jawbone Up24 are only capable of measuring steps taken and activity intensity. These tracking bands can only estimate calories burned based on the wearer’s personal data of height, weight, and age. Fitbit Flex and Jawbone Up24 are sometimes marketed as being for day-to-day use, but they are most effective with high activity levels. The company Fitbit is aware that the market is changing, so they have just released information on their latest fitness trackers to be available early 2015 and they will be competing with OMsignal’s womens line. The Fitbit Charge is available now and the other 2 new Fitbit bands now include measurement of heart rate. However, OMsignal shirts are better fitted for use in daily lives and health testing because they have more health monitoring variables such as breathing rate/depth and heart rate variability. While these shirts aren’t meant to replace a visit to the doctor, they do take self-health monitoring a step further. They are a great tool in the ever-growing future of self-tracking, and personal health awareness.

Tracking Module

How does it work? The biometric sensors that take in all the rates, activity, calories burned, and heart rate are in the shirt but, the shirt itself doesn’t send the data to the application. In order to send the biometric sensor data from the shirt to the user’s phone application the user must purchase a data module. This data module does most of the work; it uses continual data collection to record data even when the user is away from their phone. Continual data collection means users can be phone free when working out and still receive all their workout statistics later. The data module uses low-power Bluetooth LE to send the data to an OMsignal application, which limits use to iPhones 4s and newer, and androids with low-power Bluetooth LE capability. Currently the app is only available for iOS, but there are plans for operating system expansion in 2015.

Common concerns with technological wearables are waterproofing, battery life, and data protection. The shirts can be washed in a machine just like any other fitness shirt, but the data module isn’t waterproof. The data module sits connected in a pocket in the shirt and can be removed for wash or can be transferred to another shirt. While the data module is water-resistant (meaning it’s sweat-proof and capable of handling a light rain) it cannot function when immersed in water. The data module’s battery can last through 30 1-hour long workouts, or 2-3 days of continuous use. It is not as long of a continuous usage time as wrist wearables like Fitbit Flex, and Jawbone Up24, but the Data Module also conveys more biometric data variables. The data that is taken in by the module is recorded and stored on a secure server. The data is associated with the user’s account so in the event of the app being deleted, or user’s phone upgraded, it stays secure and is transferable.

Apps can sometimes make or break a product, especially when it relies heavily on the app’s functionality, design, and ease of use.  OMsignal’s app design and functionality looks good, and seems like it will lift the product up, rather than bring it down. Omsignal describes their app best, “Prescriptive notifications assist post-training recovery by monitoring how your body behaves over time, with access to key data including heart rate recovery and breathing at rest, to monitor improvements in health and fitness. Lifestyle mode monitors your body’s energy, physical stress and activity levels, offering continuous insights throughout the day, allowing you to live a more balanced and focused life.”

The shirts are currently available for pre-order, and are to be shipped out starting November 24, 2014. They promote the starter or “up & running kit,” which usually costs $240. It is currently on sale for $199 for a limited time and includes 1 standard OMsignal shirt and a data module. There are a few other, more expensive, kits that include more than one shirt, as well as their lifestyle line. Sizing is from extra small to extra large, and can be worn under additional clothing.

Black-GreenShirts that are meant for working out are fitted a certain way to improve blood circulation, enhance performance, and help muscles recover faster. Shirts that are meant for lifestyle are shaped and fitted to help posture. All Omsignal shirts have climate control and moisture wicking. They are made of anti-microbial material and fight-odor causing bacteria which eliminates “after-workout smell.”

It doesn’t go unnoticed that there are no women featured wearing the product on the website, nor are there women’s shirts listed on the product page. At the bottom of the home page is an email input to receive information on the women’s collection. A collection that OMsignal plans to release in 2015. It begs the question though, did they think men’s shirts were more important to get done first, were they easier, or was it just the way they went about design? There are quite a few women on the OMsignal team, so the delay in the women’s collection shouldn’t be considered male bias, but it’s been shown that when it comes to things that are considered “strong” and “manly,” like fitness, men’s products take priority. OMsignal has said “The sensors of the OMsignal shirt need to be worn directly on the skin to give the best readings and we are currently working on a female design that fits a women’s body perfectly.” OMsignal displays the women’s shirt in their promotional video seen below. The advantages displayed are focused less on those available to the men’s shirt in relation to activity and more focused on lifestyle. Lifestyle that includes pregnancy monitoring with an ability to observe an unborn baby’s heart rate separately from the mother’s heart rate.

A lot of work went into the creation of these shirts; they weren’t made by one person with an idea, but by a team. A team of 34 unique individuals ranging from smart textile and marketing specialists, to BioE scientists and engineers, software developers and engineers, and most importantly, a chief medical officer. It is important to note the type of people involved in the making of this product because it shows that it has a high chance for success and support down the road.  Many years of research and testing got the OMsignal biometric smartwear to this stage, and plenty more research and testing will advance it even more in the future.

All supporting information taken from OMsignal.com

Images credit: OMsignal.com

Videos credit: Youtube.com/OMsignalTV

Sep 302014
 

By: Jordan Massey

Image courtesy of Bragi.com

Image courtesy of Bragi.com

The age of wired technology is fast approaching its long-awaited doom.

While you were still busy ogling over the burgeoning trend in wearable fitness technology, one talent-stacked european company has been developing the Swiss Army Knife of wearable tech. Some say it’s a pair of wireless headphones, others say it’s a fitness tracker. Surprisingly, the Dash is both! And there’s none of that fitness tracker wristband malarkey, this gadget really does do it all.

The Dash by Bragi was first submitted as a Kickstarter project, and it raised an astounding $3.3 million, well above the project’s stated goal of $260,000. The Dash itself is a pair of wireless earbuds that also has the ability to track fitness data. The full list of features is nothing short of impressive, provided the real thing lives up to the hype.

The Dash, aside from taking advantage of wireless tethering, also has an onboard 4GB MP3 player, so the user with an active lifestyle does not need to carry a companion smartphone. The device features both Noise Reduction and Audio Transparency, which enables the user to allow environmental noise to pass through the headphones. This carries the benefit of allowing a user to remain aware of changes in their immediate area. An embedded earbone microphone is advertised as allowing crisp and clear phone conversations. Sporting an innovative dual touchpad control interface, the user can give several different commands to the Dash by simply swiping the cover of their earpiece.

In the image below you can see what the Dash looks like in-ear. While significantly larger than other earbuds on the market, the Dash is contoured to the shape of the middle ear. This allows room for all the added features, including the battery, while marketed as also providing a secure fit for active users. The flat surface in the middle of the earbud is the touch control interface. Swiping vertically, horizontally, and tapping can give the Dash various commands on either ear.

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Sep 292014
 

By Suzanna Brooks

The greatest improvements in medicine in the last few decades have been made possible by advances in technology. Today new personal and mobile technologies are just beginning to allow us to take charge of our own health and medicine. Smartphone apps compile data and provide solutions, and wearable technology such as fitness bands track movement, heart rate, and more. But this is just the start of a new wave of tech gadgets and apps that will revolutionize how we care for our bodies.

The sophistication and widespread availability of mobile technology for all aspects of healthcare are about to take off, and this advanced tech will help us to take responsibility for our own health. Mobile apps that help you count calories, lose weight, get fit, quit smoking, track your alcohol intake, or manage a specific health condition are already available and in use.

Babylon welcome screenshot

Babylon consult screenshot Images via Babylon on Google Play

Health apps of the very near future will include the likes of Babylon, an app that books virtual appointments, tracks symptoms, and receives your prescriptions with no wait time. Or you might use WellDoc, which could be prescribed by your doctor to support chronic disease management “by integrating clinical, behavioral, and motivational applications with everyday technologies, like the internet and cell phone, to engage patients and healthcare providers in ways that dramatically improve outcomes and significantly reduce healthcare costs.”

“During the next five years, health apps will empower consumers to make improved and informed lifestyle choices leading to better health and reducing the risk of chronic disease,” says Damon Lightley, managing director at Genetic Apps, an app developer for the health, sports, medical, and pharma markets. “They’ll also enable healthcare professionals to detect diseases earlier and reduce care costs.”

Current wearable technology for healthcare includes fitness bands that track steps like Jawbone UP and Fitbit Flex, the Withings Pulse O2 which combines a pedometer with a heart rate and blood oxygen monitor, and Google Glass—which, among its myriad of uses, helps doctors to see more patient data in real time, hands free, and allows surgeons to better perform minimally invasive operations requiring reliance on imagery.

Some of the new and upcoming wearable technologies that are focused on improving health sound strange, but are currently under development: a shirt that detects irregular blood sugar levels, contact lenses that monitor changes in the retina, and intelligent fibers in clothing that keep track of your pulse, breathing, and heart rate. Other developments on the way include a smart sock that keeps track of people with Alzheimer’s disease, a skin patch that provides hypodermic injections throughout the day, and Digitsole—an insole that connects to a mobile device allowing you to adjust the temperature of your shoes, track activity, and also help adjust your posture.

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