In the winter 2015/2016 issue of Modern In Denver, we featured the comprehensive, six-part story, “Designing Wellness.” From Apple to apps, here are some tech-foward, well-designed health products to, well, get you well.
The rapid evolution of health technology has tipped the scales—literally. Qardiobase is a fully integrated “smart scale” that measures not just your weight, but also muscle mass, body fat, and body mass index (BMI). It automatically recognizes multiple users, has a pregnancy mode for moms-to-be, and, of course, syncs with your smartphone to provide real-time data in the form of charts, statistics, and overall trends. The solid base design is sleek and minimalist, with a glass top, LED display, and secure wireless capabilities. Perhaps best of all, hitting your fitness goals is rewarded with the most universal praise of all: a smiley face.
How well do you know your body? Probably not as well as you think, which is why Asian startup Zensorium developed the Tinke. Designed to dock easily with your iPhone or Android, Tinke utilizes a simple touch system to monitor heart rate, oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, and heart rate variability. Every bit of that data syncs to the mobile app, allowing you to track progress over time and compare your numbers to established baselines. There’s also the Vita Index, a fitness score that blends the data into one easy-to-follow measurement, and the Zen Index, a proprietary algorithm that calculates stress levels.
DispatchHealth is a Colorado-based company looking to provide a low-cost intervention for unnecessary emergency room visits—which represent roughly a third of all trips to the ER. The majority of acute health problems still require a formal hospital visit, but for an average cost of $200, DispatchHealth sends doctors or nurse practitioners straight to your door, fully equipped to treat many common ailments. “It’s not one size fits all, it’s about getting the patient into the right model at the right time,” said Co-Founder Kevin Riddleberger. “And that’s where leveraging technology allows us to extend our services outside the walls of the system, so that we can now deliver more efficient care to populations.”
If Instagram has taught us anything, it’s that we’re a nation that loves to document our food. Rise is a smartphone app that channels this love into a healthy outlet: weight loss. Rise connects you with a registered dietitian who helps develop a personalized strategy. Take pictures of your food, share them with your “coach” for specific feedback, and watch the pounds melt away.
WIRELESS BLOOD PRESSURE MONITOR
The CDC estimates 70 million American adults have high blood pressure—and only about half of those people have their condition under control. The first step is consistent tracking, which is where the Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor comes in. Produced by Withings, makers of health technology products ranging from watches to scales to baby monitors, the Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor gives instant color-coded feedback, syncs directly with the Health Mate phone app, and makes sharing information with your doctor a snap.
A growing body of research suggests that much of our day-to-day behavior is the result of simple habit. Streaks is an iPhone app that bills itself as “the to-do list that helps you form good habits.” Identify up to six tasks you’d like to make part of your daily routine, and Streaks provides the positive reinforcement needed to cement those habits.
We take more than 20,000 breaths per day. But what are we inhaling along the way? Atmotube is a small, portable device that measures air pollution and harmful pollutants and sends real-time measurements to your phone. It’s designed for use by virtually anyone, but is especially helpful for asthmatics, children, and the elderly.
The fitness wearables market is booming, with brands like Fitbit and Jawbone clawing their way to prominence. But in the summer of 2015, Apple announced its own arrival amid a crowded field of competitors with the first-generation Apple Watch. This isn’t merely a timepiece or a fitness tracker. It could be a game-changer. It isn’t just that the Apple Watch tracks your workouts, or that it integrates with other fitness apps, or that during yoga it can show you a picture of that reverse warrior pose you haven’t quite mastered. What makes it so compelling is that it does all these things while also looping in your email, text messages and other staples typically associated with smartphones—and that it aspires to do so much more. Commerce? Sure, make a purchase with a few clicks and a swipe. Navigation? No problem with built-in GPS and maps features. Convenience? Wave it in front of your hotel room door to gain access. And of course: lean heavily on the omnipresence of Siri. The interesting thing about the Apple Watch—which, to be fair, has drawn its share of detractors—is that fitness is one small, native element among many. They’ve already put a supercomputer in your pocket. Now they want to put one on your wrist.
THE DRINKABLE BOOK
According to the World Health Organization, more than three million people die each year—almost entirely in developing nations—from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes. The Drinkable Book serves as both water filter and instruction manual for how and why to sanitize dirty drinking water. Founder Theresa Dankovich came up with the idea while working on her doctorate at McGill University, and while the finished product hasn’t come to market yet, it isn’t far off. The concept is brilliantly simple. Sheets of extra-thick paper are embedded with silver nanoparticles, which kill dangerous bacteria and leave behind a healthy, refreshing dose of H2O. Each filter lasts several weeks, meaning a full book could provide the tools for about a year’s worth of clean water. Dankovich and her team are in the process of scaling up paper production and planning public health trials in Central America and Africa, with a goal of distributing 1,000 Drinkable Books (equalling 25,000 filters) around the world.
It’s an increasingly common refrain: Sitting is the new smoking. Even for physically active people, prolonged sitting increases your risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. Enter The Level, a sleek, naturally sourced platform that keeps you moving while at a standing desk or in a classroom. And it looks just enough like Marty McFly’s stolen hoverboard to add a dash of the cool factor.
Even if you exercise every day, too much sitting is hazardous. Not only that, but unless your boss sprung for an ergonomically advanced suite of office furniture, you’re probably in a near-constant state of bad posture and poor body habits. French designer Benoit Malta can’t help improve your workout routine, but he just might have a solution for that slouch. Inactivite is a two-legged chair that engages your core and promotes better posture by putting you in a state of “bearable discomfort.” Not recommended for long periods of uninterrupted sitting or for use at family holiday gatherings, where “bearable discomfort” already comes standard.
Few things are more stressful than the premature delivery of a child. Making matters worse is the environment meant to care for these fragile newborns—high-tech equipment, minimal space, and almost no privacy. Dutch designer Ricky Kloosterman took all that into account when she came up with EMBRACE, a partially enclosed chair made specifically for mothers to care for their premature babies. The seating area is large enough to fit at least two people comfortably, with dedicated space to hang medical equipment. The rounded form has a tall back to promote skin-to-skin contact between mother and child, and the curved sides are lined with hygienic imitation leather cushions. EMBRACE began as a graduation project for Kloosterman, then a student at Design Academy Eindhoven, and has since shown at Dutch Design Week and garnered multiple award and grant nominations.
French startup SevenHugs has developed technology they believe will help the entire family sleep better. Their integrated system connects to smart bulbs and thermostats, creating the ideal lighting and temperatures by which to fall asleep and wake up. Environmental sensors monitor temperature, humidity, and air quality. All that’s required is wireless Internet and an Android or iOS device.
You may have fond memories of your Dukes of Hazzard lunchbox, but times have changed and your kids deserve a food transport device that won’t require a tetanus shot. Enter OmieBox, the smart solution for 21st century students. Boasting a vacuum-insulated bowl, leak-proof gaskets, kid-friendly handle, and removable divider for modular food compartments, OmieBox is the lunch kit you never knew you needed.
Coffee. Soda. Even sports drinks. Beverages are a shockingly rich source of calories, and many people don’t realize the content of the liquids they put in their bodies. The Vessyl is a sleekly-designed cup that recognizes and aggregates everything from a craft beer to a pumpkin spice latte, providing real-time nutrient data directly to your smartphone. Vessyl has a modern feel (thanks in part to world-renowned designer Yves Behar), and the non-stick interior and spill-proof lid make it practical and long-lasting. When you know precisely what you’re drinking, every hour is happy hour.
DIVE INTO OUR COMPREHENSIVE DESIGNING WELLNESS SERIES: