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One of the often overlooked wonders of the modern world is improvements to both our health, and the healthcare we receive. In the early 20th century the average life expectancy of someone, somewhere on Earth, was 31 - about the same as the rest of history before it. As of 2010, it's 67. In the developed world, people can now expect to live into the 80s - and I'd wager that many of the kids born today will easily live to see their 100th birthday.

So I've been wondering: we talk a lot about how gadgets are changing how we communicate and so on - but could the devices we all carry around with us now also be about to make us a whole lot healthier?

Fuelband

The dramatic change in life expectancy is down to advances in science and technology - we know loads more about the human body, and have invented lots of amazing gadgets to help treat it.

A couple of years ago I had a nasty kidney stone, that required surgery to remove. Whilst this could have been fatal mere decades ago, the doctors were able to treat me based upon the knowledge they'd accrued about how the human body works over the last several hundred years. They knew that certain painkillers wouldn't do more harm than good, because all of the other patients they've tried it on.

And this is how and why medicine has worked so well. But could it be about to get even better?

Health accessories like the Samsung S-Band and Nike Fuelband, and mobile apps like Strava track how much exercise we do. Our phones know where we are and what we're doing - and consequentially can figure out an awful lot about us. So how long will it be before this data is used by our doctors?

Rather than just judge us on what we say in an eight minute consultation with our GPs, maybe they'll be able to pull up our health data and analyse it properly? Maybe next time you tell the Doctor you'll get more exercise, she'll be able to tell if you're lying?

"Are you getting your 5-a-day?", asks the Doctor.
"Yes", you lie.
"What about this massive cake that you posted on Instagram 3 weeks ago?"

Medical instruments are getting even better too. A friend of mine recently tested a "smart pill" that had various measuring devices embedded into it - which he could then track in real time using a smartphone app... whilst it was still in his body.

Pacemakers could soon be automatically calling an ambulance if you have heart problems - and there's even "toys" designed to be companions for the elderly that will remind them to take their daily medicine.

Imagine if wearing something to monitor key health metrics, like our heart rate became routine.

Look at so-called "Big Data" too. Collecting lots of data isn't just about making more accurate Netflix recommendations. I bet we're not that far away from having our own personal genomes mapped, so drugs will be able to be synthesised that are custom to us.

There is currently an on-going debate too about healthcare data - who gets access to our records? Currently it's only our doctors, but what if the data was opened up to scientists - suitably anonymised so that nothing nefarious can happen with it - but given the size of the dataset, scientists would be able to more easily identify the effects and side-effects of different treatments, and more quickly develop and bring new treatments to patients.

Add this all together - and we're looking at a much healthier and longer future.

Of course - there is one awkwardly massive downside to this. Privacy concerns. Do we really want all of our health data logged? Do we really want a massive database showing just how much, or how little exercise we do? And what when all of this data is floating in the cloud. What's to stop Samsung or Nike or whoever selling my data to an insurance company, who will boost my life insurance costs if they discover that rather than run a daily marathon, I instead eat a Snickers every day? (Yes this linguistic flourish would have worked better in the 1980s.)

Whilst most of us in Britain are now fairly comfortable with institutions like the NHS, and the "nanny state", are we really ready for the personal trainer state?

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Over a third of Brits (35 per cent) would rather turn to health gadgets, like Withings Smart Body Analyser pictured right, instead of visiting the doctor, according to new research published today.

The survey conducted by independent shopping price comparison engine, PriceSpy.co.uk, was designed to measure how gadgets such as pedometers, BMI calculators and heart rate monitors are improving the nation's health.

The NHS currently spends around £103bn a year on health services. However these gadgets could soon be saving it an estimated £36bn pounds each year as one in three health gadget users now make fewer visits to their doctor.

The top 10 UK cities most likely to use a gadget rather than visit the doctor are:

1. Belfast - 60%

2. London - 40%

3. Birmingham 40%

4. Norwich - 39%

5. Southampton - 37%

6. Glasgow - 37%

7. Newcastle - 37%

8. Edinburgh - 36%

9. Manchester - 33%

10. Liverpool - 32%

It's not all good news though; people are now more likely to wrongly diagnose themselves. 21% of people in Edinburgh are using gadgets to find out what illness they are suffering from compared to 20% in Belfast and 16% in Norwich.

The following league table shows which health problems people are using gadgets to help diagnose or provide peace of mind:

1. Fitness - 70%
2. Weight loss - 56%
3. General health - 55%
4. Heart condition - 31%
5. Improved joints - 27%
6. Strength training - 25%
7. Insomnia - 13%
8. Cosmetic appearance - 13%
9. Illness - 12%

Erik Lorentz, Head of Communications, at PriceSpy.co.uk said: "It's surprising to see that so many people are using health gadgets to improve their fitness and wellbeing, but also to avoid a trip to the doctor. The findings could have major implications for NHS spend and waiting times, particularly if the technology behind health gadgets continues to evolve!"

Apparently nearly 50% of us own at least two or more health gadgets with 47% owning a pedometer, 44% a Wii Fit and 24% relying on a heart rate monitor (I wonder just how often they are actually used though rather than just left gathering dust).

Surprisingly the biggest spenders are people in Glasgow with over a third of respondents (35%) claiming to have spent over £100 on health gadgets. London, Manchester and Edinburgh come second with being the most flush with their cash, with a fifth of people spending over £100.

The online survey of 1,008 people was carried out on behalf of PriceSpy.co.uk

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pee-eye-test-2-980.jpgPEEK, a new smartphone app developed by a team of eye health experts, is set to dramatically improve the way people who suffer from cataracts and other eye-related problems in the emerging world are treated.

PEEK (short for "Portable Eye Examination Kit"), pairs an app-based visual diagnosis tool with the portable functionality of smartphone based mapping and location software to put what almost amounts to a full ophthalmology department in a user's pocket.
peek-eye-test-1-980.jpgUsing the smartphone's camera in tandem with its flashlight, a travelling doctor can assess whether or not a patient is suffering from a cataract or other eye problems. An image is captured with the camera, alongside the patient's location, and sent back to the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, where it's given a thorough examination. Once a number of test have been carried out locally, the team on the ground can then set up an accessible treatment centre locally, using Google Maps to assess the most convenient location.

With the means to carry out a range of eye tests, including simple distance visual accuracy examinations, a £300 smartphone is capable of carrying out examinations that would usually require static equipment that costs in excess of £10,000.
peek-distance-eye-test-980-dark.jpgThough still in a testing phase in Nakuru, Kenya, a trial of 5,000 people has already seen 1,000 people get sight-saving treatment that they would have otherwise missed. If rolled out on a wider scale, there's the potential for many, many more people to get access to the medical attention they require. The World Health Organization estimates some 285 million people have eye problems, four out of five of which are curable. PEEK could lead the charge in dropping those numbers considerably.

sony-medical-hmd.jpgSony have been touting Tron-like head-mounted displays since back in 2011, giving gamers and film fans a personal 3D viewing experience by sticking two tiny screens in front of their eyes in the HMZ-T1 and HMZ-T2 headsets. Having not exactly been roaring success with consumers, Sony are changing tact a bit, revealing the HMM-3000MT which is aimed instead at surgeons.

Acting as the viewing screen for the internal end of medical endoscope, the HMM-3000MT lets surgeons see inside a patient in 2D or 3D, with the added depth of three dimensional imagery said to allow for greater precision when working in tight quarters.

The use of head-mounted screens are also said to help doctors stay focussed, meaning they won't have to restrict their posture or turn away from the job at hand.

Packing in a pair of 0.7-inch 720p OLED panels (just like the headsets aimed at consumers), the design has been tweaked to allow use in a standing position to be more comfortable, while the software now allows for flipped camera views and picture-in-picture - handy for getting another angle of an operation.

Greenlit for use in Japan, there's no word yet on an international roll-out.

REVIEW: Netatmo Urban Weather Station

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Web-Hi_Netatmo_combo_no-Logo.jpgreview-line.JPGName: Netatmo Urban Weather Station

Type: Indoor and outdoor weather and environment monitoring sensor kit

Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price as reviewed: £139

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Everywhere you go, you can always take the weather with you thanks to the Netatmo Urban Weather Station, tracking minute changes in humidity, temperature, CO2 levels and sound levels at your home while on the go through both iPhone and Android apps. But, for £139, can it glean any more information than a TV weather report or a quick glance out of the window already can? Read our full review to find out!

review-line.JPGThe Netatmo Urban Weather Station kit is made up of two aluminium cylinders, one intended for indoor use that hooks up to your mains, the other destined to brave the elements outside, powered by 4 AAA batteries (which should see out a year's worth of use). They're attractive and relatively discrete items that communicate with each other over Wi-Fi and send data to a set of free iPhone, iPad, Android and desktop apps, measuring everything from temperature to humidity, sound levels to CO2.

Setting up the Netatmo kit is a relatively painless affair, though the supplied instructional documentation isn't all that helpful. You can pair the Netatmo to your router with either the desktop app with a USB cable (USB cabling is only needed during set-up) or through a similar process for iOS devices with iOS docking cables. Once connected to your Wi-Fi network, the sensors begin pumping environmental data to Neatmo's servers, which you can view via a web portal or the mobile apps through your user account, which is set-up during installation.Web-Hi_Product_no-logo.jpgNetatmo claim that the smaller outdoor sensor can be placed as far as 100m away from the indoor mains connected unit, but that distance is cut considerably once walls and other obstacles are placed in the way. In reality (unless you live under a wall-less gazebo), expect that range to be halved. It's also worth noting that the outdoor unit must be sheltered from harsh weather as it isn't waterproof. You'll have to find a little alcove outside for it to live in or face certain readings be skewed by factors such as heavy rain, for instance, a notable problem for a device that will spend almost all of its life outdoors.
Though the Netatmo kit offers forecast information provided by MeteoGroup, it's real USP is allowing you to disseminate the minute fluctuations of all manner of readings in your immediate environment. Indoor and outdoor temperature, air quality and humidity can be measured, while the indoor sensor also picks up pressure, sound and CO2 level readings.

All of these measurements can then be tracked and recorded through the desktop and smartphone apps, and even turned into XLS or CSV files for exporting into other applications. netatmo-iphone-screens.jpgIt's fascinating stuff, and at times a little too revealing! I got into a panic when I saw CO2 levels in my flat beginning to rise, though it turned out they were well within perfectly liveable ranges. But it proved to show just how muggy our indoors living conditions can be, let alone the pollutants outside. I'm just as concerned now with ventilation (especially around my kitchen's gas-powered oven) as I am with keeping the heating off.

Presented in modular charts and readings, flipping the smart device running the Netatmo app horizontally lets you see readings in granular detail through graphs, showing five minute incremental readings. Though working perfectly well on a smartphone, the iPad version of the app proved most useful, letting you cram more information onscreen at once and more easily compare and contrast data. The indoor sensor also has an LED indicator strip that, when activated by a tap of the top of the unit, glows red, yellow or green for a quick visual cue to indoor air quality levels.Netatmo_App_hd_curves-eng-metric.jpgEach version of the app can also be used to set up alerts, sent to your device of choice once the sensors pick up certain pre-determined readings. There are preset notification events that can be triggered, or you can create your own. For instance, setting the indoor sensor to pick up minute changes in sound levels when placed near your front door could well be used as a burglar alarm, or a way of letting you know your kids have got home safely from school. We can also see a busy market for the sensors for horticulturists with indoor greenhouse wares of the not-so-legal variety, too.

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Verdict:

I have to admit to being quite skeptical as to the benefits of the unit when first setting the Netatmo kit up, but it's won me over during the last couple of weeks. The information each monitor offers is presented cleanly and in fine detail, with a flexible alert system that can give the Netatmo some unexpected secondary uses. It's very pricey, and as such will likely only be the reserve of budding meteorologists or demanding greenhouse gardners, but all will likely find the details of their immediate surroundings presented by the Urban Weather Station fascinating.review-line.JPG

4/5

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High Speed filming.jpgEvery morning dozens of men visit the Gillette Research and Development Labs in Reading just to shave. There they are watched by scientists through two way mirrors in little booths to see how exactly how they perform the act.

"Everyone is different," explains Troy Nimrick, Director, Gillette, Global Blades and Razors R+D. "Some take just around 100 brush strokes and are finished in a couple of minutes, others take over 700 brush strokes and are shaving for over 20 minutes."

Everything about the way these men shave is measured from the pressure they apply when holding a razor (anywhere from 100 grammes to 1Kg) to the angle of the blade as it comes across their face. Apparently, some men even drag the razor across their lips when shaving which, considering it is many times sharper than a scalpel, shows a little too much faith in the product for my liking.

Rapid-prototyping-facility.jpg3D Motion Capture

We're here at Gillette's Research and Development centre in Reading where about 120 people are responsible for bringing us the technology (and there is quite a lot of it) that goes into the humble razor.

Included is a visit to a 3D Motion Capture department where users are fitted with sensors on their skin like those used for special effects in movies or video games to see how they move their arm when they shave, how they hold the razor and how they move it across their face.

The results are then plotted on a computer screen, analysed and shared with other departments including design to ensure the optimum shaped razor is produced for all types of users.

There's even a 3D printing department that can make prototype razors out of polymers (ie. plastic) for testing and which one day may be sophisticated enough to produce the razors themselves.

Jelly face

While the adverts tend to show hi-tech graphics where the blade chops through straight hairs like a woodcutter ploughing through a dense, flat forest of trees at high speed, the reality of shaving is actually very different and a lot more gruesome. Using advanced filming techniques at 30,000 frames per second (compared to 25 frames for standard film and TV), Gillette is able to see exactly how the blade interacts with the skin.

"It's a bit like trying to cut copper wire in jello (jelly)," explains Gillette's Troy Nimrick. Hairs, which are very tough, grow out of the skin at all sorts of strange angles and even when the first blade tries to cut through them the chances are it won't take them out completely. Wetting the skin prior to shaving is essential because it makes the hair a lot less brittle and easier to cut through but it's still clear that multiple blades are better than one.

Whether that means you need to have five blades is another matter. Gillette introduced its first five blade razor, the Gillette Fusion, back in 2005. And while some cynics at the time were critical of the need for five blades, and their high cost, Gillette insists the solution was technologically far superior than its predecessors.

"We only ever introduce products where our research shows that twice as many people like the new design more than the old," insists Troy Nimrick. Interestingly, as Gillette points out, the patent for the first five blade razor was actually filed by Italian Mino Pelizzola back in 1929, but it has taken this long for the technology to catch up with the concept - in particular the ability to produce multiple blades in a single device which are close enough together for an optimum cut (apparently just 1.05mm between the blades).

Style and sensitivity

Though Gillette remains tight lipped on what's next for the humble razor it's clear that products which style facial hair - as well as other hairs on the body - are one key area of development. Launched last year in time for prostate cancer fundraiser, Movember, the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Style was developed in conjunction with Braun Technologies and is a powered razor designed to capitalise on the trend for more sculpted facial hair (as opposed to the old straggly beard look).

Another important focus for Gillette is sensitive skinned men. Once seen as something only women suffered from (or at least admitted to), sensitive skin is clearly a massive problem for men too. Approximately 70 per cent of men wet shave on a regular basis with 52 per cent admitting to doing so less often as a result of having problems with sensitive skin. 

Gillette Fusion Silver Touch

As a sufferer of sensitive skin myself I thought I'd try Gillette's latest solution to the problem: a Gillette Fusion ProGlide Silver Touch razor. I was also supplied with several types of gels and balms.  As well as the sensitive skin shave gel there's also Sensitive Balm and Moisturiser. What's really good about the razor, apart from that it's much easier to get out the box than previous Fusion Razors that I've used thanks to recycled packaging, is that it is powered with a single Duracell AA battery (included).

gillette silver light.jpgAlthough I think wet-shave razors give you a much cleaner shave than electric shavers, I've always been a bit wary of them thinking they are going to scrape half my face off. Which is why I tend to shave infrequently, usually only a couple of times a week at the most.

To me the Fusion Silver Touch seems like a good solution to the problem. It has the five blades of the Gillette Fusion (actually six if you count the one on the back which you can use for your nasal hair - I only just found that out). But because it's powered you don't have to press so hard on your face to shave the hairs off. It's a bit like the difference between a standard toothbrush and a decent electric tooth brush. And what's more at around £10-£15 it's not much more in price than a standard non-powered razor though of course the blades aren't cheap. There is also a manual version of the same razor for those who don't like the electrical noise/feel.

I have to say I was pretty impressed. I thought the manual Fusion was a good razor when it came out a few years ago, but always a little rough on my skin especially when tackling a few days growth. In contrast, the Silver Touch seemed to chop through a week's growth in an instant and didn't feel rough at all.  I didn't even have to hold the razor that hard for it to work well. I still can't imagine shaving every day - it's such a chore and blades are so expensive - but at least I've found a razor that works without leaving me with a sore face every time I shave.

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royal hospital for neuro disability.jpgFor most of us, a slight improvement in technology means that we can access our emails a little quicker or store more music and video on our mobile phones. But for some of the people in the video, it helped change their lives.

This week to mark Brain Awareness Week (Monday 11 March to Sunday 17 March), the Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability (RHN) is highlighting its digital campaign using the hash tag #TechnologyMeans. It is hoping to raise funds for Electronic Assistive Technology to help some of the most disabled people in the country.

Take Deirdre featured in the clip below who, thanks to technology, can control the TV or open and close her curtains via her smart phone just by moving her head. Or how about Zita - who suffered a stroke at the age of 26 that left her unable to talk or walk - who is now able to communicate by blinking thanks to the computer team at the RHN.

Says Sarah Myers Cornaby, Director of Fundraising at the RHN: "Where I might use my tablet to do my weekly online shop, it can give a patient at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability their voice back through eye tracking and speech synthesis apps. Our new film has been designed to use bespoke, device specific endings, mirroring the way in which technology is adapted at the RHN, to give patients the best chance of regaining their independence."

Because it is Brain Awareness Week, all donations received until Sunday will be doubled by an anonymous donor, to help pay for electronic assistive technology. You can either donate via the newly launched website at www.rhncharity.org.uk or text BRAIN to 70111 to give £3.

In order to encourage a bit of friendly rivalry between mobile phone user the charity will be using device detection technology to determine whether Android or Apple users are the most generous!

You can see the video for the campaign below:


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We've all been there, having been out "on the lash" with our pals only to realise too late that we've had one drink too many. Short of a good night's kip and the promise of a banging headache the following day, there's not much you can do to sober yourself up at present. But that may soon change thanks to a new study by researchers in California.

UCLA professor Yunfeng Lu and USC's Cheng Ji have created a work-in-progress drug that's become known as the Booze Pill. It quickly sobers up a person suffering the effects of a heavy drinking session. As first spotted by Gizmodo, the pill uses a combination of two enzymes wrapped in a nanoscale shell.

Tested on mice, those injected with the enzyme nanocapsule saw blood alcohol levels drop at a significantly faster rate than those that had not been given the drug.

Though a long way off from widespread human use, Lu and Ji's work could lead to a pill designed for Joe Public, and could potentially lower accidents resulting from drunkenness and drink driving. Lu describes the drug's effect as "almost like having millions of liver cell units inside your stomach or in your intestine, helping you to digest alcohol."

There's still a problem here though. Drink driving is bad. BAD. We've had 30-odd years of public service campaigns to hammer home the point. The same goes for binge drinking; it may be fun on the night, but it leaves you vulnerable and over time does serious damage to your health. If we become so comfortable with being able to drink and pop a pill to fix all the side-effects, that undoes all the hard work done to educate people of the dangers. What then happens on those occasions were a person used to popping a pill finds their supply has run dry on a boozy night? It's a great idea, but could a booze pill ultimately do more damage than good?

OregonScientificSmartWatch1.jpgOregon Scientific has announced a range of smart sports watches designed specifically for those who want to monitor and share their sporting performances via social media more easily. Two models are currently available: the sSmart SE900 (£129.99) and the sSmart RA900 Adventurer (£179.00)

Both feature a wireless connection for compatibility with your smart phone via a dedicated sports app enabling you to upload data from, say, your bike ride or run directly to your smart phone. They are also both water resistant up to 50 metres.

OregonScientificSmartWatch2.jpgCompatible with various sports accessories, the watches can be used in conjunction with a chest belt (to monitor heart rate) and bike pod to monitor speed, distance and pedal rotations. More advanced is the sSmart Adventurer which also comes with built in motion sensors and a dedicated weather forecast profile using a built in barometer. Whatever next?


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Fitness gadget specialists Fitbit have launched a new waistband tracking gadget at CES 2013 this week called Flex. Expanding the company's already impressive portfolio of fitness devices, it'll compete with the likes of Nike's Fuelband and Jawbone's Up bracelet in the battle for your cash in the wearable "health guilt gadget" market.

The Flex is similar to its competitors in that it collects data about how many steps you've taken, your quality of sleep, the calories you've burned and a range of other metrics, which are all then fed to a dedicated app instead of being displayed on a screen like the company's other gadgets. However, the Flex is unique in that it's able to sync data wirelessly via Bluetooth 4.0 - Nike's Fuelband uses Bluetooth 2.1 and Jawbone doesn't have Bluetooth capability at all. It's also set to be much cheaper than its other rivals as well, retailing for under $100 in the US.

The step towards a wristband-style gadget certainly makes sense for a company that's already proving to be a key player in the health and fitness tracking arena and may have been overshadowed by similar offerings in the past.

Via: ShinyShiny

Click here for more news from CES 2013

HANDS-ON: Haier Eye-Control TV

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haier-eye-control-2.jpgreview-line.JPGFrom wire-free 3D TVs to web-connected wine cellars, Haier's IFA 2012 stand is one of the show's most diverse offerings. An obvious highlight is the Chinese manufacturer's Eye Control TV, a television controlled solely through the movement of the eyes and blinking. We tried it out and share our thoughts here.

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The Eye Control TV user sits in front of a sensor roughly three feet away, which is hooked up to a television via a standard Windows 7 PC. Things kick off with a short calibration process, asking the viewer to follow a series of orange spots on the screen as the sensor adjusts itself to their eyes' movements.

After this point, the viewer is in control. Focussing eyes on key points of the screen activates UI elements, with a long, deliberate blink making selections. For instance, hovering over the bottom left corner of the screen brings up the volume bar, and looking intently at the buttons on either end of the volume slider adjusts the sound. This technique also allows the user to scroll through programmes and movies and (with the set also being web-connected) social networking feeds such as Facebook and Twitter. haier-eye-control-3.jpgRaised up from a tabletop on a short stand and roughly a foot wide, there's absolutely no need to touch the sensor at all.

If you're a long-time Tech Digest reader (and so you should be!) and this sounds familiar, that's because it's using technology built in partnership with Tobii, the Swedish company that wowed us at the end of last year with their EyeAsteroids arcade machine. You can view our hands-on video of the game here.

Speaking of the Tobii game last year, we said:

"It almost feels like the game is reading your mind, as the way we chose to focus our gaze on items in the world is so closely linked to the lightning-fast way our brain reacts to make decisions and interact."haier-eye-control-4.jpgIt's exactly the same feeling with Haier's Eye Control TV; no sooner had we thought about making an adjustment to volume or switching to another program than the sensor had already registered and made good on our intentions.

As with other products that use the Tobii technology, the application is obvious; for those who live with disabilities that make movement and lifting difficult, they'll be able to throw away their remote controls and enjoy controlling their televisions with comfort. It has the potential to make television viewing far more accessible for some people.

Not quite ready for market yet, Haier are looking into fine-tuning the UI so that its integrated into the television, rather than accessed through a connected PC, as well as the possibility of integrating the sensor into the bezel of the screen (though this may need a far more sensitive sensor to achieve).haier-eye-control.jpgThere will of course be potential problems to overcome before the Eye Control TV goes mainstream. Previous applications of the Tobii technology that we've encountered have been in devices that are intended for personal use, in laptops and computer monitors. Even the EyeAsteroids game was to be played by one person at a time. With television viewing being often a social experience, Haier will have to work out a way to isolate one controller in a room full of eyes. There's the potential for even a pet owner's dog to affect your viewing here. Facial recognition is almost certainly the next step in highlighting who should or shouldn't be given control of the set.

But again we've come away impressed by the potential of the technology. Tobii have done the groundwork, and Haier are forward-thinking enough to bring it to the living room. With our eyes already focussed on the set when watching television, controlling it solely with our peepers rather than a remote control and our hands seems the logical, natural step forward. Watching television may soon become an even lazier pastime, and we're not going to argue against that on a sleepy Sunday afternoon.

Tech Digest travelled to IFA 2012 as guests of Haier.

Click here for more news straight from the IFA 2012 technology show

Mohoro robot photo.jpgMahoro is a new, 8 foot robot in Japan that currently handles 'dangerous' lab work. The robot is able to complete many tasks, which takes years of training for most people, much quicker and more precise than any technician would be able to.

Its 7 joint arm differs from the standard 6 or less jointed robots made in factories, and Tohru Natsume, the team leader of biological systems control team at AIST claims this improves the flexibility of the arm by allowing more elbow movement. Additionally, Tohru insists that this work is very hazardous, and so it should be done by robots.

When Mahoro's work was compared with professional lab technicians, Mahoro was considerably more precise and only consumed half the time. Many people believe creating a robot of this level requires a ton of advanced programming, but developers ensure it can be developed on a computer using minimal programming.

Tohru also claims that Mahoro can be "taught easily". Using a 3D scanner, developers at AIST and Yaskawa are able to create a virtual bench and a virtual robot which allows them to simply click and record commands which the robot will carry out.

Mahoro robots are used in labs at pharmaceutical companies and universities all across the world, supplied by Nikkyo Technos and experts expect a collaboration of people and robots is likely to begin within the next decade.

However, until Mohoro's safety is improved, its likelihood of working alongside technicians is rare.

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Pro-10 laboratories2.jpgWe all know that if you want to get fit you need to eat well and exercise. We also know that you won't see results overnight and no product on earth can turn you into Vin Diesel. What many of us don't know is the science behind building muscle and how you can help your body along.

Quick breakdown of the facts:
• Muscle building is a natural process and is your body's reaction to damage from strenuous activity
• The body will overcompensate to reduce the risk of this damage happening again by building more muscle than needed
• By gradually increasing the workload for your muscles through increased repetitions, heavier weights or frequency of exercise you can build your muscles up
• Your body uses amino acids to build muscles
• Amino acids are the structural units that make up protein
• To give your body the amino acids it needs to build muscle you need to increase the amount of protein you take on board
• The process of building muscle slows if you do not have sufficient protein

The level of protein you require can be obtained through changing your diet to focus around eating turkey, chicken and fish. These have to be eaten in larger quantities and regularly.

If you are like 90% of the population and not quite ready to relinquish potatoes, pasta and rice in favour of high protein foods, then you can supplement your intake with protein shakes.

Protein shakes are often based around whey protein and this is because it contains high levels of all the essential fatty acids (amino acids) that your body cannot synthesise and must be added through diet.

You will need to have 2 - 4 protein shakes per day depending on the level of exercise you are doing.

Pro-10 laboratories (smaller).jpgYou will consume a 1kg bag of whey protein powder in 20 days if you have 2 a day, or 10 days if you have 4 per day. If we take a figure in the middle - 15 days, you will be using 2kgs per month.

This can begin to be expensive, but you don't want your hard work going to waste.
Pro-10 offers high quality whey protein, but they have reduced the price to only £12.99 per 1kg. Gram for gram that is the same price as organic chicken breast. Each week special offers enable you to try new supplements or bundle packs, and they are launching over 40 new products over the next 6 months.

There is no witchcraft involved with protein shakes and if you want to see the best results from all your hard work then take advantage of our 10% discount to give it a try. Visit www.Pro-10.com and enter TECH10 at the checkout to receive your discount. Valid until the 17th August 2012.

google-labs(1).gifGoogle's PageRank algorithm revolutionised the way we search for content on the web. But could it now be used to aid medical advances?

That's the theory from the team at Washington State University, who are using the algorithm to more accurately model water molecule behaviour.

Chemists Aurora Clark, Barbara Logan Mooney and L. Rene Corrales have published a paper called moleculaRnetworks in the Journal of Computational Chemistry, detailing their findings.

They have noted that Google's PageRank system (which determines a website's popularity and relevance based upon the number of links to it from other sites, and how influential those sites are) can be applied to water molecules, ranking them by the number and strength of hydrogen bonds to neighbouring molecules.

With water involved in nearly all biological reactions, a better understanding of the molecules could lead to safer, more effective drugs and treatments, as well as understanding the protein misfolding associated with some degenerative diseases.

It's not the first time the PageRank algorithm has been applied to areas beyond the web. It has in the past also been used to analyse food chains, quantum networks and even the relevance and worth of scientific journals themselves.

Timex Health tracker watch up for grabs

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A new year usually starts with great intentions of watching your calories, changing to healthier diet and exercising more. Yet for many those resolutions are shelved by the time February comes around as you just didn't have the right tools to keep you motivated. This is where the Timex Health Tracker comes into the picture.

Aimed at women with hectic lifestyles the Timex Health Tracker has a built-in walk sensor that automatically records distance, steps taken and calories burned. It also lets you record calories consumed in a diet diary and allows you to create custom fitness goals and track your progress to keep motivated. And as it sits on your wrist, you can easily review your stats whenever and wherever with just a few clicks!

We've been testing the Health Tracker for a week and have found it does really help with motivation. Working as a little nudge each time we look at our wrist, being able to easily record calories and check how many steps we've taken at any time is definitely a bonus. Now there is no need to remember to bring that notebook or recall what you've eaten throughout the day when you sit down in the evening to log it online.

The Health Tracker is available in three colours; purple, grey and black for £59.99 from www.timex.co.uk/wellness.

Win a Timex Health Tracker

To help you take your first steps towards a healthier you, we have teamed up with Timex to give one of our readers the chance to win a Timex Health Tracker.

To enter simply Like Connected Health Store on Facebook and leave a comment on our Wall saying where you like to walk and why.

The winner will be picked at random and will be announced on Facebook. The competition closes on Thursday 2nd February 2012.

While you are at Connected Health don't forget to check out the latest news on health and fitness gadgets.

nike-fuelband.jpegNIKE have added a new gadget to their range of digital fitness products today. The NIKE+FuelBand sits on a user's wrist, and is designed to track everyday movements that could encourage people to live more active lives.

Pairing up with the NIKE+ website or a free iOS app over Bluetooth, the NIKE+FuelBand uses an incentive system called NikeFuel. A normalized score that awards equal points for the same activity regardless of physical makeup, users can set a daily goal of how much NikeFuel they want to earn through being active during the day.

Whereas previous NIKE fitness systems have required users to set aside time for a workout, the FuelBand instead uses four slightly more passive metrics (Time, Calories, Steps and NikeFuel) that can be tracked throughout an entire day, letting users gradually adapt their days to make them a little more active.

The wristband itself lets you track how close you've come to reaching your target goals over a day through a series of 20 LED lights, gradually building from red to green as you approach your set achievements.

"The NIKE+ FuelBand is a way for Nike to further evolve the exciting possibilities of merging the physical and digital worlds," said NIKE, Inc. President & CEO Mark Parker.

"Nike has always been about inspiring athletes, and the NIKE+ FuelBand will help motivate them in a simple, fun and intuitive way."

The NIKE+ FuelBand already has the backing of some major names in the world of sport too, including seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstong, Oklahoma City scoring champion Kevin Durant and 2011 IAAF women's 100 metres World Champion Carmelita Jeter.

"What's great about the idea of NikeFuel and the FuelBand is the way it provides real information and numbers to show how much people are doing all day, every day," said Armstrong.

"That's what will get people challenging themselves to do more and better their own scores. It's a tool to get people more active."

The Nike+ FuelBand will be available in the UK from the 1st May, priced at £139.

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From research papers, new companies and industry rumours, we always knew 2012 was going to be a big year for fitness gadgets and technology that gives us the power to take control of our own health in a way we've never quite experienced before. Here at Shiny Media we've even set up a dedicated sister site called Connected Health, focused on exploring ways we can monitor our well-being and live happier, healthier lives. What a lovely vision.

But the big question is, are any of these products really innovative or are they just jumping on the "improve your life" bandwagon?

Well, here's our pick of the ten best health and fitness gadgets of 2012 so far that we think are more than just faddy gizmos. We've seen a few at CES, we've only heard rumours about the others, but they could well shape the way we view our personal health and fitness over the next twelve months.

1. The Basis health and heart rate monitor

From the Jawbone UP bracelet to the Fitbit, we've come across all kinds of monitoring devices in recent months that promise to give users detailed stats about their health and fitness.

The Basis works on that same kind of principle, but its watch design would make it much more practical for most users and the simple interface you use to look through your data is the cleanest and most intuitive we've seen so far.

Check out our video demo of the Basis watch and its computer dashboard from CES 2012.

2. Striiv pedometer gadget

Striiv is a cute little device, which is being billed as a handy personal trainer for your pocket. It takes the features of a basic pedometer and builds on them to create a device that gives you all kinds of readings about how much you move during the day.

As you'd expect, it's a small gadget that you attach to your belt and has a colour screen, which not only allows you to track your steps, but lets you play games and encourages you to be more active along the way.

To find out more about the device, check out the post Striiv - a pedometer on steroids over on Connected Health.

3. Ideal Life's connected health system for the home

Ideal Life's booth at CES was less about a specific gadget and much more focused on how to integrate a connected health system into your home.

Primarily devised for those already living with a medical condition, Ideal Life's products and services allow you to use gadgets, like pedometers and blood monitoring devices in your home. These gadgets then send the readings that are taken throughout the day to a dedicated patient portal, where users can monitor them. This data is also accessible via a clinical area, where medical professionals can keep a close eye on their patients too.

Check out our video demo of Ideal Life's connected health home system from CES last week.

4. STMicroelectronics' smart suit prototype

STMicroelectronics has recently unveiled a new kind of smart suit technology with sewn in sensors that track movements and turn them into a digital model. It all sounds a bit sci-fi, but the technology used in the suit could help to improve outcomes in clinical and sports medicine applications. The technology is still in the early stages of development at the moment, but watch this space for Tron-style light suits over the next year.

5. Valencell's fitness monitoring in-ear device

We've seen a number of new gadgets that utilise in-ear technology to give users the best readings recently, and at CES we came across Valencell, a company which aims to give you a better workout by providing you with detailed health and fitness data from within your ear.

Valencell's technology currently exists in small earbuds that contain sensors to collect important data, which is then delivered back to a mobile device.

Check out our chat with one of the Valencell team about the in-ear technology and how it could evolve in the future.

6. The Fitbit ecosystem

At CES last week we had a demo of Fitbit's new Aria scales, which give you accurate information about your weight, body fat and BMI. Although the scales are pretty cool, it's the ecosystem Fitbit is building up around its products that we're particularly interested in. Now you can track everything you do with the Fitbit Ultra and then see your results with the Aria scales, as well as share everything among friends, set challenges and store all of your data. So the devices themselves are certainly interesting, but its the way everything connects together that we think will make Fitbit a big player in the health and fitness arena in 2012.

7. Qualcomm AliveCor iPhone ECG device

This ECG mobile device from AliveCor has been making the headlines recently because it was used to save someone's life on a flight. Despite the circumstances, that's a pretty brilliant testament to just how well it can detect heart problems.

We spoke to one of the AliveCor team at CES, who explained the basics behind the technology and how it was used to diagnose someone in the real world.

8. Iqua Beat fitness gadget

Like the Valencell earbuds, the Iqua Beat tracks your exercise and fitness through little buds in your ears. We particularly love the fact that the device comes with a way to answer calls and intuitively skip music tracks with a simple swipe. It's less of a ground-breaking device and more of a handy gadget for fitness fanatics ho want to know more about their workouts.

Check out our video demo of the Iqua Beat from CES last week over on Connected Health.

9. Wahoo Fitness Bluetooth heart rate strap

Although many devices measure your heart rate, this strap from Wahoo claims to be the world's first Bluetooth Smart heart rate strap made for the iPhone 4S (and also other Bluetooth Smart Ready devices). It's also pretty clever because it works with a range of different fitness apps too, like RunKeeper and MapMyRide.

10. BodyMedia's adhesive patch

BodyMedia already has a new personal health system and part of it consists of an adhesive patch, which when placed on the skin can be left for several days to record as many as 500 data points each minute including calories burned, steps taken, activity levels, and sleep pattern.

Although BodyMedia's system looks great as a whole, we're interested to see whether an adhesive patch is more or less convenient than the straps, watches, clothing devices and ear buds we've seen from other companies.


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One of the hottest trends at this year's show has been health and fitness gadgets and we have already compiled a list of some of the best here.

However they keep on coming, and here are a few more for you to check out.

The Basis, a wrist based rival to the FitBit, Jawbone Up and BodyMedia Fit

We like the design of this Fitbit Ultra and Jawbone Up rival as it looks more stylish and high tech. As for features it has many you'd expect, like a 3D accelerometer to track your movements, temperature gague and a heart rate monitor.

Qualcomm's Alivecor software and how it saves lives

Do mobile self-diagnosis devices mean people could get more accurate assessments of their health than they necessarily would from their doctors? Qualcomm thinks so.

Second generation Striv 'pedometer on steroids' on its way

Everyone's favourite pocket pedometer to get even smarter.


Forget hospital Matrons - here comes Ava the healthcare robot from iRobot

At CES 2012 iRobot, the company that makes the Roomba home-cleaning robots, was parading its Ava bot, a three-to-five-foot tall robot with an Apple iPad for a head. And it could be heading for your nearest hospital.


So you think medical and health gadgets a bit gimmicky? Well maybe, but they may have already saved one life.

In a keynote speech at CES 2012 Dr. Eric Topol, the chief academic officer of Scripps Health told a story about how he was able to use a software called Alivecor from Qualcomm - which is being trialled on mobile phones - to save a man's life.

He was apparently on a flight when someone was taken ill with chest pains. Using the tool Topol was able to quickly diagnose that the passenger having chest pains was having a heart attack, and not just indigestion. The airplane made an emergency landing, allowing the man's life to be saved.

Here's a video of the device in action. For more on some very cool medical gadgets and apps from Qualcomm go here, and check out Connected Health for full CES coverage here.


CES 2012 VIDEO: Iqua Beat fitness headphones

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Fitness freaks get another gadget to add to the growing pile of workout-monitoring tech at CES 2012 thanks to the new Iqua Beat headphones.

Pairing with an iPhone over a Bluetooth connection, and syncing with its own iPhone app, the Iqua Beat headphones can monitor heart-rate, calories burned, miles ran, steps taken and your speed.

A touch-sensitive controller unit also allows you to answer phone calls, and select new music tracks by swiping across the controller's surface.

Shipping with an iPhone arm-clip, the splash-proof headphones look a good new tool in the fight against the flab.

For more news from CES 2012, click here.

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