PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

From an exoskeleton designed to helped the earthbound and astronauts alike to a DNA test to tell you if those crunches will work, we bring you the most innovative stories from the world of wellness research.

Scott Lachut, PSFK Labs
  • 4 november 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.

Exoskeleton Could Help Astronauts Run A Marathon In Space
NASA has built a robot exoskeleton called X1 in conjunction with the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition and engineers from Oceaneering Space Systems, that helps astronauts exercise in space, and paraplegics walk on earth. The 57-pound device is designed to be worn over their body to assist or inhibit movement in leg joints. X1 has 10 degrees of freedom, or joints — four motorized joints at the hips and the knees, and six passive joints that allow for sidestepping, turning and pointing, and flexing a foot. There also are multiple adjustment points, allowing the X1 to be used in many different ways. In the inhibit mode, X1 would be used as an exercise machine to provide resistance against leg movement in space’s zero-gravity environment; the very same technology could be used in reverse on Earth by helping some people walk. The suit is currently in a research and development phase.

Stamp-Sized Tests Can Detect Liver Damage With One Drop Of Blood
Diagnostics For All, a nonprofit based in the US, developed a simple laser print that diagnoses liver damage for the price of 10 cents. The test consists of a stamp-sized piece of paper with wells that change color when a drop of blood is applied, disclosing results quickly without the need of lab services. The system, which is designed to work as simply as possible, can be a great step forward for countries with very few health resources, where liver injuries are often a side effect of HIV and tuberculosis drug administration. The company is also working on several other paper-based diagnostics test, including malaria, dengue fever or even preeclampsia in pregnant women and nucleic-acid test to find pathogens in blood.

App Helps Those With Chronic Illness Track Important Health Goals With A Smartphone
Healthrageous is a self-management platform for managing behaviors such as poor diet, lack of exercise, bad sleep habits, smoking, and drinking alcohol that could lead to chronic disease behaviors. The platform pulls in data from health records, mobile apps, and health devices, such as a blood sugar monitors or scales, to track important medical benchmarks. The information is fed into a dashboard viewable on smartphones and the web where both the patient and doctor can see important medical data. Doctors can then send medication reminders or suggest appointments, and patients get cues on what they can do to reach their health goals. When someone joins Healthrageous, they answer a few questions about their lifestyle and set a goal, such as losing weight or running a certain distance. They then get a custom plan and a condition-specific medical device to reach that goal.

iPhone Accessory Can Diagnose Ear Infections
Researchers at Georgia Tech and Emory University have developed the Remotoscope, an accessory that turns the iPhone into an ear-inspecting otoscope so doctors can diagnose and treat ear infections. The clip-on attachment places a scope over the iPhone’s camera lens and flash allowing it to snap photos of an ear canal, while an accompanying app magnifies the image and sends it along to a doctor who can study it remotely. In addition to providing diagnosis, the system could be used to monitor the progress of the infection, enabling physicians to prescribe antibiotics only when needed, which helps reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance. The Remotoscope is currently undergoing clinical trials and the researchers hope to publish the results by the end of the year.

Create A Geo-Tagged ‘Emotions’ Map With This Headset And Heart Monitor
Japanese wearable tech company Neurowear has developed a new concept for geotagging your mood. Using NeuroSky’s brain activity-measuring headset and a heart monitor, they determine your emotional state and tag your current location with an icon showing how you’re feeling. This creates a map of places that you found exciting, relaxing, or even frightening. This can be shared with friends to let them search by emotions if they’re looking for a place to suit their mood. Neurowear has also developed a tail that communicates with the headset via Bluetooth, which they unveiled at this year’s Tokyo Games Show. ‘Shippo’ (which means ‘tail’ in Japanese) is a brain-controlled motorized tail that demonstrates the wearer’s current mood by wagging fast (concentrating/excited) or slow (relaxed).

Startup Aggregates Comments From Health Forums To Create Shared Experiences
MyBetterFit is a startup that leverages the social data taken from conversations online to help patients discover the side-effects experienced while taking certain medication. MyBetterFit aggregates comments from health forums, culling out relevant information about treatments and side effects to create patient profiles against which users can compare their experiences. MyBetterFit has analyzed 100,000 comments from online health forums eHealth and Topix and observed that for each drug there are about half a dozen cohorts of patients who respond similarly. The plan is to expand the platform to patients taking less-understood medication for other conditions, such as autoimmune disorders like psoriasis, depression, ADHD and menopause.

Take A Spin Class In A Hot Tub With This Exercise Bike
The FitWet Jet Bike is a new exercise concept that combines a hot tub-like vestibule with a standard exercise bike. When pedaling within the unit, the Jet Bike promises the benefits of a spinning workout alongside the benefits of working out in water, such as helping blood flow, working muscles with resistance greater than air and cutting down on cellulite. Spending 30 minutes on the Jet Bike is equivalent to two hours on a standard one. The units are currently only available in Europe and retail for $18,000.

Are Your Genes To Blame For Your Exercise Results?
A new test developed by British company XRGenomics claims to tell people whether or not their bodies are genetically wired to benefit from exercise. The test is based on the findings of a 2010 study that identified roughly 30 gene variations that predicted how fit an individual might become through aerobic endurance activity. Would-be athletes can send the company a cheek swab, and within six weeks they will receive results identifying them as low- or high-responders based on their DNA profile. The basic test and report run about $318; the price goes up to $478 for a more detailed analysis and personalized exercise recommendations from the company’s experts.

Are Public Health Messages On Facebook More Effective Than Safe Sex Classes?
A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that public health messages on Facebook are effective at increasing condom use among young adults–thus decreasing the chance of spreading STDs. Researchers from the University of Colorado recruited 1,578 young adults between 18 and 24 for the study. Some were asked to ‘Like’ and receive news from a sexual-health Facebook page called Just/Us, which shared articles about condom use and sexually transmitted infection testing, while the control group signed up for a Facebook page called 18-24 News, which provided general news items targeted to the age group. Two months later, researchers conducted a survey of the participants and found that 68% of those who signed up for Just/Us said they’d used condoms during their last sexual encounter, compared to 56% of those in the control group.

Underwear Shocks Patients To Prevent Bedsores
In an effort to improve the health and comfort of bedridden patients, a team of doctors at the University of Calgary have developed undergarments that can deliver small electrical shocks to prevent bed sores. The garments, called Smart e-Pants, are designed to deliver stimulation for 10 seconds every 10 minutes for 12 hours a day. The stimulation mimics the typical fidgeting most people do while laying in bed, which can relieve actual pressure to prevent sores. The team successfully tested the garments on 37 patients suffering from spinal cord injuries, but further testing is still needed.

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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