PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

From thermal imaging to identify your percentage of 'Good' fat to a 3D model of the common cold we bring you the most innovative stories from the world of wellness research.

Karen Baker
  • 11 august 2012

PSFK has partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim to bring you a snapshot of Ten Innovative Ideas each week that are reshaping the health care industry. Continue reading below for the most exciting ideas from the past seven days.

Thermal Imaging Can Tell Your ‘Good’ Fat From The ‘Bad’
In an effort to tackle the global obesity epidemic, scientists at the University of Nottingham in the UK have identified a technique to distinguish how much healthy ‘Brown’ fat a person has in their body. There are two types of fat in the human body; White fat, which stores calories and can lead to weight gain, and Brown fat which burns calories and generates heat in the process. The method leverages a thermal imaging camera to determine how much healthy fat a person has based on the amount of heat they are radiating. The method avoids harmful techniques, which use radiation, and enables detailed studies of larger groups of people.

First Drive-From-Wheelchair EV Enters Production
The Kenguru is a compact electric vehicle that is designed to be fully accessible and operable by wheelchair users. It is the first electric car that allows its operators to drive while seated in a wheelchair, featuring a single door in the rear for direct wheelchair access that can be opened by remote control and motorcycle-style handlebars for steering. The car is being marketed for short inner-city trips, featuring two 2-kW motors located over the rear axle and allow for a maximum speed for 45 km/h (28 mph), a range of 70 to 110 km (43 and 68 miles), and an ability to climb hills of up to 20 percent gradients. The Kenguru costs $25,000 before applicable tax incentives and is set to launch on the US market in 6 to 12 months.

Service Offers Live Fitness Classes Online
NavaFit is an online fitness service that allows its users to participate remotely in group fitness classes held by certified wellness experts in a range of areas from strength training and cardio resistance to yoga and zumba. Users and instructors are connected to one another through the webcam and mic on their computers, creating an interactive platform for real-time feedback and instructional monitoring. The service is oriented towards anyone with a tight schedule who has trouble getting to the gym regularly, offering users a flexible schedule and multiple classes a day.

Meet Georgie, a Smartphone for the Blind
‘Georgie’ is a Google Android smartphone application designed to assist the blind and visually-impaired. Developed by Sight And Sound Technology, ‘Georgie’ is similar to the ‘Siri’ feature on Apple iPhones in that it allows its users to easily access audio assistance on a range of subjects through a combination voice, touch, and gesture commands. Its many features include optical character recognition, meaning app users can hold their phone’s camera up to a sign or menu and have the text read back; an assistance button that alerts family members about its user’s location in the case of an emergency; and an option to use GPS to guide users through areas in which they have recently gotten lost. The device is intended to grant the visually impaired independence in their day-to-day routines through a straightforward interface that is intuitive to use even for those unfamiliar with the wayfinding capabilities of smartphones.

3D Model Of The Common Cold Virus Could Help Scientists Create Better Drugs
Biota Holdings has developed a new antiviral drug to treat rhinovirus infections, otherwise known as the common cold. Based on the information garnered from this new drug’s interaction with the virus, a team of Australian researchers has created a 3D simulation of the complete rhinovirus using the country’s fastest supercomputer. The supercomputer, the IBM Blue Gene/Q, enables researchers to examine, further than ever before, the mechanisms at work within a human cell – particularly how drugs work at a molecular level. It is believed that the 3D simulation of a complete rhinovirus may aid in development of new drugs to combat the common cold. For people with existing conditions where the common cold virus is a serious threat to their health, rhinovirus infection is linked to about 70 percent of all asthma exacerbations with more than 50 percent of these patients requiring hospitalization.

Pinterest-Like Platform For Dispensing Physical Therapy Advice
Postwire is an online service that allows physical therapists and their patients to connect and share private pages of curated content in a Pinterest-like format. Created by the Boston-based Visible Gains, the online platform features user-directed customizable pages, which can feature tasks, testimonials, and exercise videos. The service enables medical experts to function as content curators, adding value to the wellness community at large by sifting through online health materials and vetting information for the benefit of their patients and readers. The concept resides on the pivotal impact of informed curation, relying on trained professionals to direct users toward appropriate physical therapy options and exercises.

Algorithm-Driven Probe Can Now Reach Brain Tumors In Hard-To-Reach Areas
Researchers at Imperial College London have developed an algorithm-directed flexible probe designed to grant access to brain tumors previously deemed as inaccessible to surgeons. The algorithm considers three factors – the distance from the scalp to the desired brain tissue, the proximity of the route to vital areas like blood vessels or nerve bundles, and the accumulated risk of the path – in order to direct the probe on the safest path to a tumor. The probe has only been tested in animal tissue, but the goal is to use the algorithm to guide the safe implantation of electrodes deep in the brain and to improve the safety of taking biopsies from hard-to-reach tumors.

World’s Fastest Camera Can Detect Cancer Cells In Real Time
A team of engineers at UCLA has developed a high-throughput optical microscope that has the ability to detect cancer cells with a sensitivity of one part per million. The current laser-based method of examining cells has a high capability to detect cancer, but is not sensitive enough to detect rare cancer cell types. To detect these rare cell types, the optical microscope captures and digitally processes millions of images continuously at a high frame rate. This new imaging technique is based on a photonic time-stretch camera technology and can process and analyze 100,000 cells per second, which is 100 times more than conventional analysis techniques.

Vibrating Glove Teaches Spinal-Cord Injury Patients To Play The Piano
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a musical learning regimen intended for restoring functional hand movement to individuals who have suffered a spinal injury. The Mobile Music Touch (MMT) glove teaches its wearers different songs on the piano by vibrating their fingers to indicate which keys to play. A device attached to the back of the glove connects wirelessly to a computer, MP3 player or smartphone tracks progress and adjusts routines based-on progress. Although most spinal cord injury patients show little to no improvement after extensive physical therapy rehabilitation, MMT wearers performed significantly better when completing a variety of common grasping and sensation tests.

College Students Design Stethoscope That Can Diagnose Pneumonia
Students from the University of Melbourne have built a stethoscope and mobile phone application system that analyzes a person’s breathing patterns to diagnose Pneumonia. The StethoCloud stethoscope utilizes a microphone plugged into a smartphone and compares the patient’s chest sounds with the definitions laid out by the World Health Organization to determine the likelihood of Pneumonia and sends back an appropriate treatment plan. Designed to be used by skilled and unskilled medical professionals alike, the idea is to create a low-cost solution that will help to predict 98% of children’s pneumonia in countries in need, helping to prevent 210,000 infant deaths.

PSFK has partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim to bring you a steady stream of inspiring news and ideas in the health and wellness space. Once each week, we will be posting an article on If you would like to gain access to the full stream of content, please check out Boehringer Ingelheim’s Facebook page, where they are publishing a regular stream of inspiring and informative content.


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