PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

From an AR system that can trick you into eating less to 3D printed cartilage, we bring you the most innovative stories from the world of wellness research.

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.

AR Dieting System Alters Food So Users Eat Less
Researchers at Hirose Tanikawa Group, University of Tokyo have created a prototype augmented reality dieting system designed to trick people into thinking that their food items are larger than they really are. The team discovered that the feeling of being full is brought on, in part, by the visual perception of the food they are eating – so, the greater amount of food that a person sees on their plate, the sooner they feel full. Users wear a head-mounted camera-equipped display and view their food against a chroma-key blue background. The camera’s video signal is processed by an algorithm that is able to identify food items and enlarge them while also making the user’s hand appear to be opening wider as if it’s naturally holding the larger piece of food. In tests of the system using 12 subjects, the amount of food users ate dropped by about 10 percent when the food was made to appear one and a half times larger. The principle also works in reverse, so when food was made to appear one third smaller, users consumed 15 percent more.

3-D Print Human Cartilage For Cheaper Implants
Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine are spearheading a new approach to replace damaged cartilage by combining two low-cost techniques. The technique mixes electrospinning, a method of creating synthetic, polymer-based nanoscale-fibrous materials, with medical inkjet printing. The hybrid approach alternates microscopic layers of electrospun fiber and printed, living cartilage cells cultivated from rabbit ears, generating an artificial cartilage pad that is suitable for implanting. An eight-week study in mice showed that the implanted pads developed cellular structure similar to natural cartilage, while separate mechanical strength tests demonstrated that it was equivalent to natural cartilage. Injured natural cartilage has a very limited ability to regrow itself and most procedures to repair damage are invasive, requiring grafts from other areas of the body. The new procedure may eradicate these difficult procedures and give patients who suffer from cartilage conditions better options for relief.

Tiny Health Sensor Is Wirelessly Powered, Could Replace Bulky Machines
A new sensor so small it could be embedded in a bandage is being developed to track vital signs in patients. The postage stamp-sized sensor actually draws power from the radio-frequency energy emitted by a cell phone or other radio-emitting devices from up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) away. Created by electrical engineers at Oregon State University, the sensor can track fitness activity such as the amount of steps a user takes as well as their heart rate. Consumer monitoring devices can cost around US$100 or even more, while the new chip, which would be disposable, is projected to cost around $0.25. Researchers believe that disposable, affordable vital sign sensors can open a range of new possibilities in medical treatment, health care, disease prevention and weight management fields.

People Flock To Twitter For CPR Information
According to researchers at the department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, people are using the short-form social media platform Twitter to send and receive a wide variety of information on CPR and cardiac arrest, including their personal experiences and questions. Over the course of a month, their search returned 62,163 tweets, which were whittled down to 15,324 messages that contained specific information about cardiac arrest and resuscitation. The researchers believe that the study illustrated the opportunity to potentially provide real-time research and information for users about cardiac arrest and resuscitation.

Touchpad Blood Pressure Meter Only Requires A Fingertip
A new blood pressure meter is able to measure a user’s blood pressure simply by touching it with their finger. Developed by Sadao Omata of the College of Engineering at Nihon University, the meter uses LEDs and photo transistors embedded in a touchpad to accurately determine a user’s blood pressure. The light emitted from the LEDs is reflected on a finger, which is then detected by the photo transistors. While the university was a bit secretive about the details of the measurement method, it said that the device reduces the number of internal components, helping reduce the size of such devices. The university is also working on a similar technology that can detect instances of breast cancer in users. Such sensors increase the likelihood of early ailment detection by making medical tests quick and easy to use.

Device Gives Patients Audio And Visual Help For Self-Injections
PiOna is a concept auto-injection device for delivering the fertility treatment hormone progesterone (PiO) in women undergoing in vitro fertilization. For some women, daily intramuscular injections of PiO can be painful and stressful, requiring up to 70 deep intramuscular injections to the posterior using a 1.5 inch-long needle during the course of a pregnancy. PiOna helps reduce this stress by hiding the needle from site and warming the progesterone to make it less viscous, allowing it to be injected into the body more quickly. Audio and visual signals inform users when the needle ready to use and help walk them through the injection process. Created by Cambridge Consultants, the device can reduce the duration of injections by up to 30% and its creators claim it could be used for a variety of other drugs as well.

Digital Prosthetic Translates Braille Into Electrical Data, Eliminating The Need For Touch For The Blind
A new eye prosthetic developed by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne is able to download electrical data right into a blind person’s retina using a camera that sends the digital information directly to nerve cells. The prosthetic implant works in conjunction with a glasses-mounted camera, a wearable computer processor that transmits the camera’s data into electrical pulses and a grid of 60 electrodes implanted directly onto the retina. Researchers narrowed the experiment down to six out of the 60 electrodes and pulsed them to create visual approximations of individual Braille letters. Using the device, patients were able to identify 89 percent of single letters, 80 percent of two-letter words and 70 percent of four-letter words. Researchers believe that the device could work as a sensory substitute for visually impaired people who want to read written language.

Light-Weight Glasses Cure Jet Lag
The Re-Timer spectacles emit light to reset the body’s internal clock to advance or delay sleeping patterns. The glasses function as a wearable green light device to reset the body’s internal clock by emitting a soft light onto the eyes. Invented by sleep psychologists at Flinders University in Australia and developed through 25 years of research, they help reduce jet lag, increase energy during long winter months, overcome sleeplessness, and manage fatigue if you’re a shift worker. The glasses have an ergonomic and lightweight design, with a rechargeable battery in the frame and a USB cable for charging.

Video Game Controllers Made For Children With Disabilities Level The Playing Field
UK-based educational therapy software company Limbs Alive has created a suite of games called Splash aimed to teach special interest children, ages 4 -16, about an array of subjects including English, Math, Science and Spacial Awareness. Each game was designed so that children suffering from life-long conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy could play without their affliction being an impediment. Depending on their particular disability, players can use either a joystick, keyboard or trackball to operate the games, which mostly require drag and click actions. The games are made engaging by enabling users to choose their own avatar and are also designed for use in mainstream schools.

Star Trek Inspired Tricorder Tracks Your Health
Medical device and applications company Scanadu has created a handheld device that records and tracks a person’s heart rate, breathing rate, body temperature, blood pressure and blood oxygenation. Called Scout, the device is roughly two inches square and a half an inch thick and packs a rechargeable battery, IR , EEG and EKG scanners, plus an accelerometer, Bluetooth radio and a micro-USB port. By grasping the device between their finger and thumb and pressing the device against their temple, a person is able to record these five main vital signs in 10 seconds. The device contains cost effective components, finely tuned algorithms and mathematics to remove error and produce doctor office quality measurements. The accompanying application will be able to track the data and help users to proactively watch their health and share with their trusted communities. Scanadu hopes to release the $150 Scout device in late 2013.

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 PSFK.com. 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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