PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

From a smart watch that helps you deal with stress to a handheld MRI a la Star Trek's Tricorder, we bring you the most innovative stories from the world of wellness research.

Scott Lachut, PSFK Labs
  • 28 october 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.

Watch Monitors Bodily Stress To Help Calm Users Down
Neumitra, a startup founded by neuroscientists from the MIT, has developed “Bandu”, a watch and mobile platform that monitors people’s stress levels and notifies them when they should take a break and try to relax. The device is completely customizable, and when used in conjunction with a smartphone it is possible to set alerts to include personalized messages. Bandu is filled with cutting edge technology that measures the autonomic nervous system, which is associated with the effects of stress including perspiration, respiration and cardiology. As so, bandu monitors skin conductance, movement and temperature and, when it identifies that one is becoming stressed, it initiates personalized actions, like playing a song or game, calling a friend or just standing up to stretch. Over time, it learns what works best by monitoring whether or not the suggested activity actually lowers a person’s stress levels.

Health Bracelet Tracks Every Aspect Of Your Life, From Exercise To Sleep
California-based company Lark announced a new bracelet, the Larklife, designed by Ammunition Group to track your entire day – from how much you exercise and sleep to what you eat – helping people make better decisions about health. The bracelet has a center core with a three-axis accelerometer to track movement, and flashing lights that provide instant feedback, while an associated app allows users to take a deeper look at their data. Wristbands are swappable – a sweat-proof one for daytime use and another softer band for the night – providing power to the core, and a charge when not in use. While the accelerometer tracks movement and sleep, users can add in meals either via the smartphone app, or simply by tapping the bracelet’s core, which transfers info to the iOS app via Bluetooth. The main idea of the product is to make tracking easy and attainable for people who aren’t elite athletes or quantified-selfers. Larklife will be $149.99, and will be available before the end of the year.

Dentists Can Now 3D Print, Fit Patients For New Teeth In Under A Hour
Sirona has developed CEREC, a CAD/CAM restoration system that allows dentists to create a crown in one hour, whereas current processes might take two to three weeks. Dentists take an optical impression of the tooth and transmit the visual data to a computer, enabling them to design the restoration according to their patient’s exact specifications. After designing, the data is then sent to a milling chamber where the crown is produced in about 20 minutes. While this new technique certainly adds efficiencies, it is not without its limitations. The tooth, for example, cannot have broken off below the gumline or the scanning device will not be able to make a precise 3D image. And since the crown is carved from a solid ceramic block, it cannot have the complex visual nuances of a real tooth. Still, the new technology is even more important for tooth implants, where precision is critical.

Biofeedback Helmet Helps Teach Students How To Reduce Stress Levels During Tests
The University of Iowa is offering a new service to help students overcome test anxiety, using a mind-reading technology that guides them into a state of relaxation. Called Biofeedback, the tech displays students’ brainwaves in real time and alerts them when they’ve dropped into a state of calm focus. When stressed students are attached to the device, a computer can recognize when they’re in a hyperactive state, alerting them via visuals cues and sounds as they consciously become more relaxed. The result is a kind-of guided meditation, with a computer guru that is physically aware of precise brain states. Once students have learned to reduce their anxiety using skills absorbed through Biofeedback training, the can begin to reach this state on their own, frequently resulting in significant improvements in academic performance.

Supercomputer Can Diagnose Cancer Genome In 47 Seconds
NantHealth, a division of Los Angeles based IT company NantWorks, has introduced a supercomputing platform that can reduce the genomic data analysis of a cancer patient from eight weeks to 47 seconds. As it currently takes approximately two months and thousands of dollars to perform the sequencing and analysis of a single cancer patient’s genome, doctors have been unable to use genomic sequencing to guide cancer treatment because they’ve been unable to analyze a patient’s DNA to acquire useful information in time. Based on that premise, the fiber network will provide thousands of oncology practices with information to save cancer patients’ lives in a shorter span of time – the supercomputer will be able to analyze 5,000 patients a day – connecting more than 8,000 practicing oncologists and nurses. While building the supercomputer-based high-speed fiber network, NantHealth collaborated with several companies, including AT&T, HP, Intel and Bank of America, as well as the National LambdaRail, a 12,000-mile nationwide optical network infrastructure used by more than 280 universities as well as U.S. government laboratories.

AR App Lets Users Scan Moles To See If They Are Cancerous
Doctor Mole is a skin care app for smartphones that lets users track, compare and analyze moles and surrounding skin for any irregularities in size, shape and coloration. By using the camera and augmented reality to capture moles, users are able to check risk levels in real-time. The moles are captured and can be monitored over time, with the option to include follow up reminders. The app is recommend to be used as an early alert and monitoring tool but shouldn’t replace a doctor’s consultation as the app’s accuracy is limited by the capability of the smartphone camera, poor light, shadows and image processing.

Researchers Turn To Plain Paper For Cost-Effective Medical Testing
Researchers at the University of Washington are working on a special process that will replace the custom paper found in home pregnancy and other tests with plain office paper in an effort to create ultra-cheap methods of medical testing. Traditionally, medical-grade paper is coated with a membrane called nitrocellulose that sticks to the specific molecules that are being tracked. The researchers found that they could coat regular-grade paper in a diluted industrial solvent called divinyl sulfone, which allows the paper to bond to a multitude of chemicals, including DNA antibodies and sugars. The paper feels smooth to the touch but is actually sticky at an industrial level. The researchers hope that others will see their proof of concept and use it to develop cost-effective diagnostic tests.

Handheld 3D Scanner Serves As Portable MRI Machine
Engineers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a handheld scanning device that provides real-time 3D images of the inside of patient’s bodies. The scanner utilizes optical coherence tomography (OCT) that uses light to penetrate biological tissues in the body. As light encounters structures within the tissue, some is reflected back to the surface where the OCT system uses an algorithm to analyze it and create 3D images of internal structures. Engineers believe that the scanner can help healthcare workers in developing nations assess the well-being of their remote patients.

Wearable Tech Stores And Releases Kinetic Energy To Put A Spring Into Disabled Steps
Cadence Biomedical has developed a wearable leg brace called the Kickstart that uses kinetic energy to help improve the stride of people who have difficulty walking. Instead of batteries, the innovation relies on mechanical features, storing the kinetic energy created while walking and releasing it to assist the hip flexor muscles that are used to pull the knee upward when walking. The device is available in one- or two-leg configurations, and designed to be worn on the outside of a person’s clothing. The device is aimed at patients who suffer from lower extremity weakness due to a neurological injury or disease such as stroke, ALS, muscular dystrophy or multiple sclerosis, and have shown limited improvements during therapy.

Adaptive Dressing Adjusts To Underlying Wound Condition To Promote Healing
Startup OSNovation Systems has developed an adaptive dressing that promotes healing while continuously adjusting to the condition of the underlying wound. Leveraging advanced polymer materials, the Self-Adaptive Wound Dressing balances the evolving moist wound environment, providing hydration or absorption depending on the instantaneous needs of the wound and surrounding skin. The innovation simplifies care by removing the guesswork involved in selecting from a multitude of single-function advanced dressings.

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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