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I wonder how many people’s New Year’s Resolutions (if you believe in that sort of thing) were based around health this year. Perhaps eating a little better, exercising a bit more, not eating the whole packet of Jaffa Cakes...
Well from what we saw at the Consumer Electronics Technology in Las Vegas last week, that whole industry is about to get reinvented by technology.
CES has become known as the place where next-generation inventions are demonstrated, often for the very first time. And it’s an indication of what new technology we as consumers can look forward to in the coming year.
Among a new smartphone from Lamborghini setting you back £4000 and a piece of technology which will charge your mobile or tablet from 20ft away, one of the things that stood out was a device that measures your calorie intake through your skin.
It’s all to do with reading the glucose in your cells, and the device (called GoBe, by healbe.com) straps on to your wrist like a watch. It markets itself as "the only way to automatically measure calorie intake" (i.e no manual logging or guesswork).
It does look like some of the other wearable fitness devices available on the current market, and (like most things these days) it comes with a software app that you can run on your iPad, iPhone or Android device.
GoBe can monitor and record a whole number of metrics, including calorie intake, calories burned, heart rate, hydration levels and sleep status. The information is then all sent to your smartphone.
Their tagline is “Tell It Nothing. Know Everything.” Now, we’ve all seen the hype around Big Data, but this could take things to a whole new level!
Up until now, we’ve really only heard about Big Data in a business context. And I don’t think we’ve even got to grips with that yet – businesses know they are collecting vast sums of data from all sorts of different sources, but they often don’t know how best to interpret it, or even know what they want to be interpreting.
Services such as Microsoft Azure are designed to help you out with this, but as consumer technology develops and we can generate big data sets of our own (particularly within the health and fitness/ wearable tech trend), we’re going to start to need something like this, with horizontal scaling as the focal point.
However, imagine a business world where we don’t have to input data manually. Slightly creepy if you did it with your skin, but would this be a good thing do you reckon? If we can’t even see the information we’re putting in?
There would be less room for user error of course, and the ability to do it faster. But the key thing with data is that you need to know you’re measuring the right stuff. Because what gets analysed at the end lives or dies on the quality of the data you’re putting in in the first place.
With companies like 23andMe now offering a fairly affordable personal genetics kit, the health industry could take on a whole new meaning to the meaning Pro Active support. You could get a DNA test, find out what illnesses you might be likely to get, and take preventative measures to ensure that you’re tip top and as fit as a butchers dog, so to speak…
With information as important as that, and potentially life or death decisions to be made from it, it’s crucial that that information gives us the full story.
We’ve already seen that Apple and Microsoft have produced some awesome personal assistant applications with the introduction of Siri and Cortana. The future versions of these applications could include hooking up to a physical consumer device in your Apple Watch which greets you in the morning after the Christmas party, warning you that your blood sugar levels are much lower than normal.
Also demonstrated at CES 2015 was a ‘brain fitness tool’ called the ‘Muse sensing headband’. The Muse is dubbed as the mental equivalent of a treadmill, designed to give your brain the run around, its tagline being ‘A better brain in 3 minutes a day’.
It's also supposed to help you feel refreshed and less stressed.
Last but not least, and given 2015 is the ‘Year of Light’ (or Light-based technologies), there are a great number of light bulbs entering the market that can be connected to the web.
They’re not cheap, but they link up to an app on a device of your choice using the Zigbee Light Link protocol, and allow you to not only remotely switch on or off a bulb in your house, but also set the ‘mood lighting’. Some even come with the ability to put some colour on your cheeks…and that’s the kind of feet up exercise I’m used to!
We’re creating data all the time. Technology helps us use it, breathe it in, workout with it, and give you a six-pack as its product.