Category Archives: Gadgets

Health & Healthcare at #CES2019

I was working on a blogpost about wearables, smart textiles, and household tech for healthcare when the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicked off. Let me just step aside for a moment and collect some of the wonderful new and emerging technologies from there. Here’s a bunch of articles, videos, and tweets highlighting some of what was being shown off at CES 2019.

Gadgets were on or in:

  • abdomen
  • belts
  • ears
  • eyes
  • fingernails
  • head
  • stomach
  • wrists

Health & tech topics included:

  • 3D printing
  • AI
  • asthma
  • augmented reality
  • autonomous mobile clinics
  • babytech
  • body temperature management
  • brain activity tracking
  • caregiving with robots or virtually
  • eldertech
  • fall prevention
  • a fitness tracker that doesn’t require charging
  • food technologies
  • heart health and cardiology
  • imaging and radiology
  • incontinence
  • mobility aids
  • personalized health
  • pet health
  • posture
  • stroke recovery
  • surgery
  • virtual reality
  • weight management
  • wheelchairs that navigate based on facial expression


CES 2019: Wristband ‘Can Control’ Your Body Temperature


The best CES 2019 health gadgets combat stress, pain, and more

Blood pressure watches and DIY sonograms: CES 2019 was all about health: At CES, health, wellness and medical tech are big focuses once again.

CES 2019: First Alert Previewing New HomeKit-Enabled Smoke Detector-and-Speaker With Mesh Wi-Fi and AirPlay 2

HealthTech wearables to major at CES 2019

The Impossible Burger

Matrix PowerWatch 2 uses solar and heat to power GPS, heart rate at CES 2019: The future of wearable fitness tech might be charge-free.

CES 2019: Omron HeartGuide blood pressure watch is for real: Detecting a sneaky heart condition could get a little easier with this watch: Just lift your arm and push a button.

Smoke Detective

What’s new and what’s next in consumer health?


Personalized Medicine, Biosensors, Mobile Medical Apps, and More

At the Quantified Self Meetup, someone was praising the Rock Health slides. Of course, I had to go explore and see what was so great. These are my favorites.

About FDA’s Guidance for Mobile Medical Apps

FDA 101: A guide to the FDA for digital health entrepreneurs by @Rock_Health:

I especially took note of slide 10, where they describe things I would think of as an app, but which do not qualify as such for FDA regulation. This is an important distinction I hadn’t previously considered. Slide 12 takes it further by describing the categories of regulation as based on risk to patients, with good clear examples. Slie 21 on “pro tips” would have really benefitted companies like 23andMe (even though that isn’t actually a mobile medical app, the pro tips still apply, and in spades).

Biosensing Wearable Tech

The Future of Biosensing Wearables by @Rock_Health

This one definitely gets into topics relevant to the quantified self movement and self-tracking. Slide six emphasizes the shift from the low hanging fruit (fitness, pulse, sleep) to the long tail — more targeted solutions for specific challenges (hydration, glucose, salinity, skin conductance, posture, oxygenation, heart rhythm, respiration, eyetracking, brain activity, etc.). That’s really quite interesting, and it gives examples of companies working in each space.

Slides 19-24 get into several of the areas our own local meetup defined as challenges to success for companies working in this space and for the future success of the entire area — it has to work, easily, and dependably. Slides 27-30 extrapolate these challenges into the transition into healthcare environments.

Personalized Medicine

The Future of Personalized Health Care: Predictive Analytics by @Rock_Health Video



It’s probably safe to say that most individuals working in the quantified self / self-tracking space eventually end up struggling with the issue of how to use their data to anticipate avoidable problems. This idea can be translated into the jargon phrase of “predictive analytics.” Slide 11 does a nice job of lining this up with how traditional healthcare is practiced, which is very useful. Slide 12 places this in the context of big data resources, databases, and tools, listing several of the main players. This context is essential for making personal data relevant beyond the drawn out process of n=1 studies. Slide 14 identifies the BIG problem of how companies working in this space largely focus on hospitals and health care providers, and seem to have entirely missed the idea that patients are deeply and actively engaged in this space. And, frankly, there are more of us than them (even if our pockets aren’t as deep). I love the phrase on slide 18, “Symptom calculators are the “recommendation engines” of health care.” Most of the rest of the deck identifies challenges and opportunities, which I hope any entrepreneurial types would examine closely. Do notice that there is a video with this one. You can hear the entire webinar as well as reviewing the slides.

Quantified Self Meetup, Ann Arbor

Cool Toys, Devices, Quantified Self

Last week, I felt really lucky that I was able to make it to the first Quantified Self Meetup of the New Year (thanks to Nancy Gilby for the ride!). This session was held at the UMSI Entrepreneurship Center. Roughly ten folk came, and I’m not sharing names even though they said I could because I’m not sure I got the names down right. The group included a wide range of types of people: corporate folk, students, entrepreneurs, faculty, alumni, and independents. The conversation was fast, dynamic, and overlapping, so I couldn’t catch everything. I will talk about what I did catch of the IDEAS and the GADGETS. That’s what’s really fun, eh?


What the Meetup group page SAYS they are interested in (as a sampling) is pretty extensive.

“Aging in Place Technology • Behavior change and monitoring • Caregiving of digital patients • Chemical Body Load Counts • Citizen science• Digitizing Body Info • Medical Self-Diagnostics • Lifelogging• Location tracking • Non-invasive Probes• Mindfulness and wisdom tracking • Parenting through monitoring/ tracking • Personal Genome Sequencing • Psychological Self-Assessments • Risks/Legal Rights/Duties • Self Experimentation • Sharing Health Records • Wearable Sensemaking”

What’s even more interesting is what people said they were interested in as they went around the table.

  • aging population
  • big data
  • biohacking
  • data visualization
  • diabetes
  • epigenetics
  • fitness
  • geofencing
  • legal advice
  • patient communities
  • personal genomics
  • sleep tracking
  • telehealth

The “legal advice” bit? That was from someone planning a wearable tech start up. They got some interesting answers on that point: Scott Olson, of UM’s Pediatric Device Consortium; SPARK; Medical Innovation Center, Fast Forward Medical Innovation, and (depending on your UM affiliation) possibly the Student Legal Services, UM’s Startup Law Clinic (Twitter), Zell Lurie Institute.

For the personal genomics, it was a great surprise to me to meet another person who knows their MTHFR status (and who also has two defective copies of the gene, AND is working on problem solving as hard as I am)! We were swapping info, apps, diet tips and tricks, formulations of supplements, and more. There just wasn’t enough time to dig as deeply into this as I wished. I did get to do my now normal rant, “23andMe was NOT killed off!”


After introductions, we just had an open conversation, much of which touched on challenges in quantified self tools. This was what had the meeting stretching WAY past the planned time!

  • QS devices are not being designed for longevity, but for rapid failure
  • QS devices are not being designed to actually work, by and large, which is frustrating to folk buying them early, and an argument for doing QS with low-tech self-hacked solutions
  • to integrate into personal healthcare solutions, there is a need for calibration with official medical devices
  • how are data measurements defined? it. “sleep” cycles based on movement, rather than REM cycles.
  • desperate need for standards of measurement, to empower folk wanting to discover trends and patterns across tools, data sources, and apps
  • who is funding these?
  • data visualization for self-discovery; “correlation” vs aggregator apps; challenges of meaningful analysis
  • HIPAA and QS: patient self-reporting data as an FDA loophole; PHI – Personal Health Information (personal sharing loophole)
  • requirements for insurance coverage – need doctor’s prescription for some very useful medical devices; reimbursement codes can be tricky
  • reverse innovation
  • risk science, risk of failure, costs of failure
  • when designing a device, think about how will it fail?
    design for how to make it work or how to make it fail?
  • how can small companies compete? “innovative/unique, protected, acquired”
  • security, open data, hack into someone else’s data, ownership of data

Any one of these could easily be a devoted session, presentation, or series of blogposts. The bit about failure especially interested me. The idea was that these devices seem to be being designed to fail, as is pretty standard for tech in general these days. But what happens to the end user if they get to the point where they trust the wearable tech device, trust its data, and can’t tell that it has stopped working properly or is on the verge of failure? The FDA keeps tabs on what happens with medical device failures in their MAUDE database. The problem is that this only applies to devices that go through FDA approval, and most of the wearable tech devices folk use for biohacking or self-tracking personal health information, well, they are not FDA approved. People were talking about how much risk is there, impacts, and devices that are low risk. I shared a story of a time when a blood pressure cuff lead to a fatality some decades ago. That was pretty shocking to them, because we tend to think of blood pressure cuffs as being pretty innocuous. How did it happen? It failed during surgery, and kept giving normal readings when the patient was actually having trouble. The idea was that even simple tech can have serious impacts when the stakes are high and people are depending on it.


Of course, we all had to talk about our toys, how we like them or don’t, what we’d change, what we’re thinking about buying, our experiences with customer service from the different companies, companies that are failing or expanding, new releases, etc. I tried to keep a list of devices mentioned or waved around (not all of which were pertinent to QS), but I’m pretty sure I missed a few. The same is true of services, apps, and such, but I’ll give links for the ones I caught.


While most of the gadgets mentioned were in the room and functional, that wasn’t true across the board. Some of these were mentioned as warnings (“a glorified pedometer” “gave me headaches” “out of business”), so please don’t take this list as an endorsement.


I know there was another few genetic analysis tools mentioned that I can’t remember, and I’m really frustrated that I can’t remember. Later, trying to prod my memory, I found this great list (“What else can I do with my DNA test results?“) but I’m still hoping that the person who mentioned the other tools will comment on this post with what I missed.


The apps here include tools for mobile and desktop, for data analysis, self-tracking, behavior modification, communities, and time management / lifehacking. What isn’t included is the conversation about low-tech alternatives, such as replacing calorie counting apps with photos of what you ate, or using notebooks instead of tracking apps. Quantified self doesn’t have to take a lot of money and gadgets (but perhaps that should be a separate post).


Please note that this is NOT a collection of the best ever anywhere resources on Quantified Self, but rather (as with all the other lists in this post) a collection of what was mentioned during the meeting.

Last but not least, I collected a whole bunch of links I stumbled on during the meeting in one large “OneTab” collection. It includes 76 web pages that I wanted to come back to, reflecting more details or random conversation digressions. You can find it here:

[#makehealth] Connecting Making (Hacking, Tinkering) to Health

GO-Tech Meeting at Maker WorksAnn Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2014Detroit Maker Faire 2013

So, you’re a Maker, Hacker, Tinkerer, Inventor, DIYer, Code Monkey, or all around Geek, and you think this #MakeHealth Fest sounds interesting and fun. You’re thinking of getting involved, BUT … (and it’s a big “but”) you’re not doing anything exactly, well, health-ish, not that you can think of, anyway. That’s why I’m writing this — just to show how some of these ‘traditional’ maker activities can connect to health projects, can help real people, if you want, in accessible real world ways. I wish I’d had time to make this into a lot of smaller posts, but we’re sending out the #makehealth call for participation next week, and I want all of you to think about how you could be involved or what you’d like to see when you come. You are coming, of course. 😉

3D printing

3d printer printing

I talk about 3d printing a lot. You know, Robohand, Project Daniel, babies with new tracheas, men with new faces, and more. But those are the exceptional examples that make the news. There are so many ways in which 3D printing is helping in more mundane ways. I had a shoulder and wrist injury and was having trouble opening jars. I found I could 3D print a jar lid gripper. Engineering students and physical therapy students at University of Detroit Mercy collaborated on designing better spoons (which they 3D printed). People are using 3D printing to repair broken equipment, make equipment clips to hold wires out of the road, practical things like that. Healthcare students have been using 3d printing to modify or adapt their stethoscopes. There are so many possibilities. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering to be a useful skill.

Arduino Uno, Beaglebone & Raspberry Pi

Raspberry pi

Arduino Uno, Beaglebone, and Raspberry Pi are inexpensive computing hardware, often used as controllers (microcontrollers) to get other equipment or objects to do something you want. They are incredible for assistive technologies! Something a person wants to do, perhaps used to do, but which is hard for them to do — is there a way you could design an inexpensive object to help them do it? Maybe remote control lights, sound, monitors? Connect them with sensors or trackers to do something when the input reaches a particular level.

How does this connect with health? Many ways. Firstly, most maker techniques and tools can be used as assistive technologies. Try searching any of these with the word(s) assistive or “assistive tech” or “assistive technology”, and you will find a flood of applications.

Google Search: (“Arduino Uno” OR Beaglebone OR “Raspberry Pi”) assistive

Secondly, connecting this to sensors automatically makes possible a wealth of applications in the area of the Quantified Self movement – tracking data about your self and/or home or environment with a goal of promoting and achieving personal health goals. These have been used for personal cardiac monitoring, tracking ECG and pulse rate, blood pressure; it can be used for other types of sensors — GPS, saline levels, alcohol levels, whatever sensors you have; to create a home sleep lab; managing data from mobile phone apps or GPS, such as exercise and calorie expenditure for weight loss; taking prescription meds on time; and much more. These are such inexpensive tools that they really lower the barrier to entry for many folk to get engaged in more hands-on tracking and management to match their personal goals.

Coding & Code-a-thon, Hackerspace & Hackathon

ImageJ Code Sample

The hardware isn’t much use without code to tell it what to do, so these seem like obvious connections. Everything mentioned in the prior section apply here. Because coding need not be device specific, these can have broader impact, tying in to larger computers, mobile devices, and the whole internet. This broader context makes possible doing things beyond the immediate home environment: tracking air quality issues, localized car emissions, and environmental pollution; customizing or personalizing uses of data from hospital equipment or medical records. This is such a huge idea that there are enormous numbers of events and spaces around the idea of coding for solving healthcare problems.

Google Search: (hackathon OR hackerspace OR hacking OR codathon OR codeathon) (healthcare OR health OR hospital OR quantified OR self)

Maybe you’ve already done some home-gown coding projects to help you in your own life, but you didn’t think of them as being about health as much as just life hacks. There is a lot of interest in those types of home-grown solutions (and finding partners to code ideas other folk have) for exactly those types of projects. Planning, sorting, self-organization, reminders are all skills critical to executive functioning (a psychology jargon term describing these skills). These types of tools and fixes are being used and sought heavily in communities with ADHD, autism-spectrum disorders, mild cognitive impairment, dementia, memory loss, and more. What was a simple life hack for you might turn out to be just what someone else has been looking for. If our brains all worked the same way, we could build one self-organization tool that would work for everyone. Because we are all different, we need many different types of tools, in the hope that one of them will work for that particular person who needs it. At events like this, people who need tools like this might discover people who can build them, or already have.

Or maybe you are someone who has been hacking together bits and pieces of things to track or monitor or solve things for your or a loved one, or is using services like YouTube or Twitter in interesting new ways, but you aren’t sure if we’d like to hear about it. Well, YES! We don’t have unlimited space so we can’t promise a space to everyone with an idea, but we will surely try our best and can’t try unless we hear about what ideas you have.


#UMSIMakerfest !!!

You might be surprised to find out that most makerspaces have some sort of sewing equipment and space. And you might not realize that sewing has much to do with health, aside from clinic robes and doctor/nurse uniforms. Well, there is a huge market in adaptive apparel, also called adaptive clothing. That’s just for starters.

Most of the adaptive clothing is focused on practical concerns, and sometimes people want to be attractive, too. There is a lot of room in the space of designing attractive and/or professional clothing that is easy to get in and out of for people with various abilities. The growing awareness of this is evident through recent fashion shows employing models with disabilities, and several projects focused on disability fashion.

Design and disability: fashion for wheelchair users

Disability Fashion: Does this wheelchair make my hips look big? Spinning in style! That’s how we roll …

The Disability Fashion Project

Fashion Without Borders Initiative

Stylishly Impaired — Well-Equipped Crips: disability, pop culture, fashion, technology.

For some people the concern is that they need help from someone else to get dressed, which presents one set of challenges. For other people, they have reduced mobility or strength or an injury, and need alterations to existing garment styles to be able to manage getting dressed on their own. Imagine not being able to get dressed by yourself, and you’ll quickly realize the importance of adaptive clothing for personal independence. I encountered this challenge myself last Fall when I had a shoulder injury. I had such little range of motion with my dominant arm that I could only get dressed with one hand. That meant I needed all front closures for all garments, and all garments needed to be (very) loose-fitting, but not so loose that they wouldn’t stay up. I had some clothes that fit the bill, but not the right mix to make for a practical work week wardrobe.

Whether with a temporary injury or a permanent health condition, the challenges of designing attractive and functional clothes presents some deeply intriguing opportunities for really creative people with some sewing skills. One of the most fascinating examples to me was of a coat for persons in wheelchairs. I was unaware that often they also have problems using their hands. The solution was to sew the coat with ‘mittens’ sewn onto the end of the sleeves, ones that could be zipped up when needed, and when not needed, unzipped and folded back to look like a cuff. How creative!

Wearable Technology

The Mystery of IdentityCool Toys Pic of the Day - Maker Movement Meets HealthcarePic of the day - Wearable Tech at #FoolMoon
Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2013Cool Toys Pic of the Day - Maker Movement Meets HealthcarePebble Pals

The phrase “wearable tech” is fairly new, a few years old, but the idea of it is ancient. Eyeglasses are wearable tech. Slings for broken limbs is wearable tech. So are crutches and canes, in a sense. Wristwatches are, definitely! Now, we have smartwatches to go with our smartphones, and phones are wearable technology! You can add in sensors, like these to track heart beats, relative position, or location. Many folk I know think of wearable tech with GPS (global positioning system) as being for geo-caching games, but it is used possibly almost as much for tracking children or persons with dementia who’ve gone wandering. The possibilities here to connect tech to health and well-being are virtually infinite.

Wood Working

GO-Tech Meeting at Maker Works

Yes, woodworking. Like most of these, this goes two directions. Maybe you’d like to talk about how you designed a lightweight sturdy portable DIY wheelchair curb ramp, or a portable wheelchair ramp for homes. Or an extra gorgeous in home ramp. Or a custom shelving solution for accessing hard-to-reach or heavy items for someone with mobility challenges. Or a wall-mounted flip-up flip-down lockable railing for someone living in a small space with occasional balance issues. Or how you designed an accessible building from the ground up — maybe a “treehouse” or playground for a special kid, or maybe an entire house. Maybe smaller projects. Woodworkers and people working in 3D printing could easily collaborate on sharing or modifying patterns for simple assistive tech. Those assistive tech spoons and grippers being made on 3D printers aren’t terribly sturdy, but if you made them out of wood, they would be both sturdy and beautiful.

On the other hand, maybe you’d like to talk about what modifications and accommodations were needed to make a wood working studio accessible and usable and safe for a person with multiple sclerosis or in a wheelchair. Or what type of modified grippers you used for lathes and die jigs.


You can take these ideas a lot further than I have here. Arts and crafts are therapeutic for stress reduction, but also can be used to teach core science and mathematics skills, probably health information and skills, too. Origami concepts have been used widely in health sciences from making more powerful flexible batteries (which could someday be used in bio-implants) to designing anatomical models, to folding of molecular processes and nanostructures. You can even make a microscope with paper crafting, and gaming VR systems! Sustainable gardening and urban foraging connect to public health through addressing diet, nutrition, access to healthy local foods. There are so many ways in which we can use the DIY approach to improve health, for ourselves, for our loved ones, for our community.

GO-Tech Meeting at Maker Works

What if your patient is a self-tracker? — Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Week of February 17, 2014)

Quantified Self

There were many Twitter tags and events last week that I really wanted to profile (and I hope there is time in the future to come back to some of the others!). The reason this topic won out over the others is because I participated in TWO events that focused on this question! One was the University of Michigan Pediatric Grand Rounds (#umpedsgr), with guest speaker Alex Djuricich, MD.

You can see a Storify of the complete Twitter stream from the talk here: Emerging Technology in Medicine: Friend or Foe?.

Alex launched his presentation with a case study of a young man with high blood pressure who comes to the clinic with his iPhone and app, wanting to share his data on his blood pressure trends.

Alex also got most of the audience livetweeting, which turns out to be what he’s used to at Indiana University, where they’ve livetweeted grand rounds for the past two years at #iupedsgrrounds.

He started with that case, branched out to include some discussion of types of tech that track or capture data about patients, and then swung back to the original case. Here are a few tweets from that talk.

I was absolutely blown away when the same idea came up last night at the weekly #HCSM chat.

This conversation was incredibly powerful. Clinicians and patients going back and forth, examples of data and tools, best practices, and more. These are just a very few of the tweets, with more archived in Symplur.

The conversation continued far past these thoughts, including challenges integrating data into electronic health records, balance between access to data points and ease of use for clinicians, training issues, how to integrate n=1 “trials” with population-based data, and much more. Truly a chat worth reading through in its entirely.

First posted at THL Blog:

Maker Movement Meets Healthcare

When I try to talk to peers and colleagues about the Maker Movement, one of the questions that keeps coming up over and over is what the heck this has to do with healthcare, and why am I bothering to spend my valuable time with it. So, this post has three examples illustrating the intersection of the Maker Movement with healthcare. Basically, for one of these it’s health literacy education & outreach via hands on geek project, and for the other two, there were real world problems that have expensive, time-consuming or often inaccessible solutions, for which people came up with their own solutions and alternatives. And the solutions are cool, they work, and are usually MUCH cheaper than the official solution you try to get insurance to pay for. Since not everyone has insurance, and not everyone can afford the very best possible care, I see this as a good thing. Make sure you read all the way to the end. This just gets cooler and cooler. There are more, too, this is a very small sampling, just items I stumbled over in the past couple days without even looking for them.


Have you met Sylvia? Sylvia is twelve years old, is a Maker (I’m guessing her folks probably are also), and has her own series in Make Magazine, with a really cool blog and videos. In this example, she shows people how to build a wearable technology pendant that will sense your heart beat and display the rhythm of your pulse with flashing lights in a necklace.

The Sylvia Show: Lilypad Heartbeat Pendant:

The full post at Make Magazine (Super Awesome Sylvia Builds a Pulse Sensor Pendant)

Sylvia’s Super Awesome Mini Maker Show: Make a Heartbeat Pendant:

I confess, at first I thought this seemed kind of staged, but there are enough close ups of her hands actually doing things like soldering, that I decided she really does know how to do the work, even if there might be assistance or advice from others for some parts.

Here’s where you can buy your own PulseSensor (which Sylvia connects to an Arduino for control):


Here Denver Dias, an undergraduate student in Mumbai India, was working to try to create a walking aid for the blind. Yes, we have walking canes and seeing eye dogs, but this extremely early prototype uses tech to create 3d maps of the surrounding area while walking. The maps are communicated to the user by a combination of tones and vibrations. The tech includes LEDs, sonar, ultrasound, and more.

His blogpost:
Walking aid for the blind – undergrad project…

Found via Dangerous Prototypes:


Did you look at this and think it was some fancy looking glove a kid was wearing for a costume? Well, it isn’t. This is a design for kids who, for whatever reason, don’t have fingers. This open-source, freely shared pattern makes it possible for people to create their own prosthetic ‘hand’ with a 3d printer. You can resize it and tweak it. It’s called Robohand. Watch the video if you want to see some awfully happy kids. They are hoping it will also be useful for veterans.

Complete set of mechanical anatomically driven fingers

Updated Robohand design:

MakerBot and Robohand — 3D Printing Mechanical Hands

Via BoingBoing, NPR, and more.

3dPrinter: Donated Makerbot 3D printers accelerate distribution of Robohand mechanical hands

BoingBoing: Sponsor shout-out: Makerbot and the Robohand

MakerBot: Mechanical Hands From A MakerBot: The Magic Of Robohand

NPR: 3-D Printer Brings Dexterity To Children With No Fingers

Now, if anyone still thinks that the Maker Movement lacks relevance to healthcare, I’ll go find more, but first stop and think about Jack Andraka, whose recent discovery of innovative technology to diagnose many life-threatening cancers earlier and more cheaply, seem very much in keeping with the philosophy of the Maker Movement.

First posted at CoolToysU:

Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Re-)Imagine Science Innovation (Week of July 8, 2013)

This week saw the eleventh annual international celebration of the Imagine Cup in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Imagine Cup is, in their own words, “the world’s premier student technology competition.” The main categories this year included Games, Innovation, and World Citizenship, with most of the health care concepts being presented in this latter category.

This was exciting for more reasons than that Doctor Who, I mean Matt Smith, hosted the final award celebration.

You could think of Imagine Cup as a gigantic real world game for the brightest young folk to share innovation and creativity, rub elbows with some of the smartest and most successful people on earth, and generally bootstrap invention for the next generation.

Here is the youngest competitor, 16 year old Andrey Konovalenko who came up with CamTouch, using visual feeds into a touch device to create an inexpensive portable option that could be useful for data visualization.

And here’s a project that focuses on the issue of honeybee populations world wide, based on strategies for using data analytics. Of course, this approach could have broader applications, especially in health care and public health.

While many projects focused on gaming and technology, it wasn’t unusual for the technology to be applied explicitly in ways that promote health, assist specific populations, or support health care providers and first responders.

So who won? Well, although health innovations didn’t win all the awards, they were certainly well represented.

Imagine Cup 2013 Winners

In the World Citizenship category, the winners were:

3. FoodBank Local (Australia):

2. Omni-Hearing Solution (Taiwan):

1! For a Better World (Portugal):

“The idea come from my secundary school with a manual test studied in a subject of laboratory, that consist in a plate test for determining blood type. This test came to me when i was thinking about a possible draft degree and though that it would be great to automate it. How is a rapid test, automated,will possible eliminate human error and in emergency situations could save lives. It was my purpose.

‘We are able to solve a problem of health, saving lives and eliminating the blood transfusion with the principles of the universal donor. With this portable prototype that eliminates travels to the laboratory, earn up time to save lives.’ – Ana Ferraz, Team For a Better World”

There were several healthcare related concepts also in the Innovation Competition.

3. SkyPACS (Thailand):

“With SkyPACS, we introduce the simplicity of diagnosis as it turn your tablet into an effective medical image visualisation with the familiar set of diagnosis tools.” – Sikana Tanupabrungsun,Team Myra

2. DORA (Slovenia):

“DORA’s goal is to become doctor’s best friend and a vital member of the surgical team. / The results of a preliminary research have shown that the usage of DORA solution would cut down economical costs up to 20%, or ~ 5500 surgeon’s hours (reference hospital UKC Maribor). With its simple use, DORA shortens the duration of surgeries and indirectly affects the environmental and economic aspects of healthcare.” – Kristjan Košic, Team DORA /

Take a closer look at this one, folk, it is really pretty interesting, but too much detail to repost here.

1. SoundSYNK (United Kingdom):

This innovation focuses on the audio system for parties and music performances, so is not as directly relevant to this blog, however, it has implications for education and healthcare. Here is what it does.

“We hope to create a new mesh networking system between smartphones with our technology. Imagine being able to connect a stadium full of people and play music and sounds through all their smartphones at the same time! – Alex Bochenski

OK, now think, what if you could do this for a classroom? What if you could use this technology to sync audio playback devices for people with moderate hearing loss? What if you could extend this technology to sync audio playback to TTC for the deaf? Lots of potential for extending this project into spaces relevant for healthcare and education.



First posted at THL Blog:

The Imagine Cup

Day 1 - Imagine Cup 2013 Worldwide Finals

In case you haven’t already heard about it, the Imagine Cup is taking place this week, with a livestream hosted by Microsoft for the final award ceremonies TOMORROW MORNING (i.e. 9:30AM Thursday morning July 11, 2013).

Imagine Cup:

I’m not just excited because Matt Smith, the current Doctor Who, is hosting the awards.

Matt Smith on Imagine Cup 2013: What’s Next?:
Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals with Matt Smith is just the beginning!

From their About page.
“The Microsoft Imagine Cup is the world’s premier student technology competition. Over the past ten years, more than 1.65 million students from more than 190 countries have participated in the Imagine Cup.”

Last year the awards went to projects like these.

“D Labs allows tutors to understand the behavioral patterns of children with dyslexia by using games to assist them in alphabet identification and movement recognition.”

“Enable Talk was created to give disabled individuals with limited communication abilities a better way to communicate. It transforms sign language into a form of verbal communication by creating a mobile device that continuously recognizes sign language phonemes.”

“WinSenga is a mobile application that aids health workers as they assist expectant mothers. The algorithm analyzes fetal heart sounds to determine the fetal heart rate (beats per minute) and the age and position of the fetus and then records these readings to the cloud”

“Health Buzz is a cost-effective mobile-based solution that helps healthcare service providers access patients’ electronic medical records through a secure cloud-based storage system.”

“StethoCloud is a cloud-powered, mobile-hybrid stethoscope for early detection of pneumonia. By connecting a custom stethoscope to a mobile phone, the user is able to transmit diagnostic information into a cloud service, reproducing the diagnostic capability of a trained medical doctor.”

“nunav is a navigation system with the potential to reduce vehicle carbon emissions by preventing traffic congestion. The system proactively routes city traffic by calculating the best route for each car and communicating that information to each driver.”

Imagine Cup 2012: Imagine Cup Grants Award Winners:

Now you see why I’m excited? Incredible tech developments coming from the best and brightest high school students from around the world. Open their doors, open your mind, open the world.

Flickr: Imagine Cup:


Team Triton, Malaysia Team Omni-Hearing Solution, Taiwan
Team PhAid, Malta Team Qspark, Qatar
Team Kernel, Côte d’Ivoire Team Sano, Canada


Team Quad Damage presentation
Team vSoft Studio presentation Team Beezinga Presentation
Team MYRA Presentation Team Firebird Presentation
Team Seven Worlds Presentation Team Merado Presentation


Day 1 - Imagine Cup 2013 - Worldwide Finals Day 1 - Imagine Cup 2013 Worldwide Finals
Day 1 - Imagine Cup 2013 - Worldwide Finals Team Combine presentation

Connecting Libraries, Makerspaces, Data Visualization, & Innovation, Part Three

Continued from Part Two

Continuing to walk through the Future of Visualization report with points 11-20.

motion capture lab: session 2
11. Motion capture

Again, motion capture (ie. MoCap) is already being done at the Dude. This is a big enough and complicated enough process that it makes sense to not yet duplicate it in stations all across campus. However, having said that, there are new techniques emerging for doing small scale motion capture, and those could be replicated in libraries or research labs. What leaps first to mind are the tools that use the Kinect as a motion capture device.

I don’t know if there are small scale mocap systems on the Athletic Campus and the Medical Campus, but there are certainly strong arguments for how they could benefit teaching, learning, training, and clinical care. If you want to see how this works, it is already being done in town at All Hands Active.

Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2013
12. Digital fabrication and 3D printing

I’ve talked about 3d printing a fair amount in this blog. You’re probably getting sick of it. I envision libraries providing access and support through providing:
– access to the printers;
– training on how to use them;
– “libraries” of open source or free patterns (ie. Thingiverse etc);
– software and training for 3d modeling at varying levels of need, ability, and expertise.

3d printers are available in many places around town (most notably Maker Works and All Hands Active), but the problem is that there are a lot of barriers to access (both financial, skills building, and administrative hurdles). The most accessible ones for the public are probably at All Hands Active, but there is still waiting for a class to be taught, paying for a class to be taken, paying for a membership ($50/month) …

On campus, there are 3d printers for mediated use at the 3D Lab, the Design Labs, the Fab Lab, in addition to those in research labs which are limited to the lab staff. None of these are open access, or staffed for drop in support. If there are training guides for the public, please, someone point me to them?

Ideally, I’d like a makerspace supporting these activities and placed in the district library, but if that isn’t going to happen, then next best would be to get the maker movement thoroughly embedded in the campus libraries.

Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2013
13. 3D scanners

Speaking of 3d printing and GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums), check out the Art Institute of Chicago’s channel on Thingiverse.

Thingiverse: Museum Love in 3D

3d scanners allow you to scan an object, and then print the same shape, perhaps at other scales (larger or smaller). 3d scanning and printing really need to be services that are offered together. It makes sense for museums to be scanning objects in their collections, but why not partner with libraries on managing and supporting access to the collections of files?

Working in healthcare, I could go on at length about the possibilities for 3d scanning and printing, from 3d printed jaws to bionic printed ears to replacement skulls to just printing bones in general! While printing bones is relatively simple these days, printing tissues and cartilage is still a little tricky, although printing cartilage is happening. Printing tissues and cartilage is usually called bioprinting instead of 3d printing, and is being explored for printing new organs, with current tests focusing on the liver.

There are other less serious uses, that are still useful as ways to build a level of comfort with the skills and technology required. In Japan, Tokyo’s FabCafe offers 3d scanning that allows people to scan their likeness and then ‘print’ gummy candies shaped like them as gifts for their sweetheart. Or you could make chocolates of your face. For me, I have a selfish reason to want access to 3d scanners and printers. My favorite camera has a broken battery case door. The company went out of business, and the parts aren’t available for love or money. I’d love to scan it, and print a replacement. If printing candy gets folk comfortable with the idea of 3d printing and the skills needed, I’d be thrilled to have folk print candy in my library (if it was my choice).

Pic of the day - Wearable Tech at #FoolMoon
14. Electronic sensors, boards, and kits (e.g. Arduino boards)

3d scanners allow you to scan, or “sense” the boundaries, shape, and depth of an object. Electronic sensors may allow you to sense a variety of other measurable criteria, from light levels to temperature to sound vibrations. Most smartphones have at least a gyroscope, accelerometer, and GIS as examples of sensors. Back up at the Dude (I keep mentioning them, don’t I?), Design Lab 1 has a variety of sensors for use in the facility as well as some for loan. They also support Electronic Lunch (blog), a group that meets throughout the school year to build skills working with these types of tools. This past spring, they were using custom design circuit boards (I’d consider them conceptually related to Arduino) with various lights and controllers to create wirelessly connected interactive lights for the Festifools parade in April. I had great fun learning to position capacitors and resistors as part of the circuit board assembly.

Pic of the day - Circuit Board Assembly

My favorite part was actually participating in the parade, and trying to grab photos that would show the interaction of the lights. Video does it better, though.

3D projection  leaf of Thale Cress (Arabidopsis thaliana)
15. Large stereoscopic projection screens

See #9, but another great place to put these might be the fabulous study and performance spaces in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library by Bert’s Café. These are useful for 3d projections of data visualizations, but also for virtual or immersive reality.

Kinect Google Maps Viewer Kinect.II.03
16. Natural user interface equipment (Kinect, EEG, Gloves, etc.)

There has been quite a bit of exploration of haptics (tactile feedback from automated systems) through the School of Dentistry. Much of this has been done in collaboration with the 3D Lab at the Duderstadt. What the report calls “natural user interface equipment” seems to me to fall into the realm of haptics and augmented reality. The “natural user interface” concept actually refers more to being able to move your body the way you normally do as part of interacting with the data visualization. If you’ve seen any of the recent Iron Man movies, when Tony Stark waves his hands to push the data visualization around, zoom in on some parts, erase others, THAT is what they are talking about. Don’t we all want to be Tony Stark some days? A lot of what’s driving the development is immersive reality games and training systems, with much of it coming from the military. The Video Game Library on North Campus gives the library a toehold in this space, and of course, this is already being explored in the UM 3D Lab at the Duderstadt. Again, using gaming or “fun” applications is a great way to get people building a level of comfort and facility with the technology. Having it in a library means they can learn the skills even if they can’t afford to buy it themselves, allowing students to position themselves ahead of the curve, ready to go.

Augmented Reality flashmob
17. Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) means pretty much exactly what it says. You are traveling around in the real world, but there is extra information added to or augmenting what you perceive, allowing you to interact with the world in richer or simply different ways. Again, gaming is where you see most of this, and shopping is a close second, but there is more. Here’s an example where the University of Wisconsin has a tour built in to the campus space.

Cool Toys pic of the day - ARIS

Here’s an app (Krikle, now gone) that tried to allow people to tag locations with tips that would pop up as you moved through the space. I had tried to tag the Reference Desk sign that said, “Ask us anything!”, but as you can see, the app never could quite get it right.

Cool Toys Pic of the day - Krikle

For years, I’ve been wanting to get the library involved in AR, imagining an app that allows you to walk through campus and discover:
– the history of the space you are in (by decade);
– who are the top cited researchers in the building;
– what are the main research interests in the building;
– what are the most used databases in the building;
– what are the currently funded grants in the space;
– most recent publications by faculty with offices in the location;
and of course, how to make donations to support the efforts there.

Blowing up meteorites using the latest 3D head gear - just another day at work!
18. Head mounted displays

The most famous “head mounted display” at the moment is Google Glass. I’ve usually heard these referred to as Head-up displays, also known as HUDs. Virtual reality, augmented reality, immersive reality, and the large stereoscopic displays all allow you to walk around in a digitally enhanced space, potentially shareable with other people. A HUD gives you a more personal experience, allowing similar kinds of immersiveness, but for just you, and not visible to others in the same space.

MIDEN News Article: Not just playing games
SL - Wolverine SL - Wolverine
19. Immersive virtual reality spaces (CAVE/MIDEN)

Back to the Duderstadt! And onward to Wolverine Island!

The Duderstadt, which has been affiliated with the library system since its inception, is home to the 3D Lab, the CAVE (cave automatic virtual environment), and M.I.D.E.N. (Michigan Immersive Digital Experience Nexus). Basically, CAVE is a generic name for immersive 3D used many places, and MIDEN is exclusive to the U-M, but they are essentially the same thing, although MIDEN is new and improved from what the CAVE offered previously. These are immersive virtual reality spaces, in the sense that you can walk into a space that projects a virtual reality, and seem to interact with it through the head-mounted display. What you see isn’t what’s really there, but that is kind of the point. Some people compare it to a primitive Star Trek Holodeck.

Here’s one example from the CAVE.

Here’s an example of MIDEN.

Integrative Project: Danielle Battaglia from UM Stamps School of Art & Design on Vimeo.

Second Life is one example of an online virtual world space that allows you to have an immersive experience, although not as fully immersive as the CAVE/MIDEN. The University of Michigan Medical School has had space (or ‘real estate’) in Second Life for several years, with close partnership and support from the library.

20. Shadow puppets

44 people said they want shadow puppets in support of visualization. I pondered this, and did some digging, because, frankly, I did not have a clue what they meant. Here’s what I found.

“Therefore, we want to represent the points so that the distances between them change as little as possible. In general, this is called projection, the term coming from the idea that we will do the same thing to the data as you do when you make shadow puppets: We project a high dimensional object (such as your three-dimensional hands) onto a lower dimensional object (such as the two-dimensional wall).”
Shape of Data: Visualization and Projection:

Another option, is that it might be the Kinect shadow puppets.

“Puppet Parade” Uses Kinect To Create High-Tech Shadow Puppets

Even More Kinect Hacks: Shadow Puppets, 3D Mapping Robots:

I’m not sure, so I’m hoping someone else knows and will explain this to me.

Continued in Part Four, bringing it all together.

Connecting Libraries, Makerspaces, Data Visualization, & Innovation, Part Two

Continued from Part One

UMich 3D Visualization CAVE

Let me walk through the wishlist from the UM Future of Visualization Report with the eyes of a librarian. Well, a University of Michigan emerging technologies librarian. Points 1-10 will be discussed in this post, with 11-20 in Part Three.

Web 2.0: Many Eyes
1. Expertise to help with use of visualization tools

This is reference. The UM Libraries already provide support with visualization tools through various locations. GIS is supported by the Clark Maps Library, and data visualization through Spatial and Numeric Data unit. Regular workshops are given for genomic data visualization tools by my colleague Marci Brandenberg. I’d be willing to wager that there are a whole lot of other librarians on campus providing support for other kinds of visualization tools.

SL09: ISTE, Molecular Visualization
2. Images/animation showcasing a concept, design, or theory

This is curation and collection building. It could also involve knowledge creation, especially with partnerships to identify and fill knowledge gaps.

Cool Toys Pic of the Day - Wind
3. Images/movies of raw data

OK, I’m not an expert in this, and I haven’t read every word of the whole report, so I might be misunderstanding this part. What I think they are asking for is sort of tools to bridge the gap between data and understanding. I’m thinking back to the days when I was a librarian providing support to Healthweb, a large multi-institution web development project. A big part of my job was doing the coding behind the web pages, designing the user interface, creating web-ready graphics, and supporting new librarians in building the same skills at their institutions. I didn’t have my name on specific topic pages, but was providing behind-the-scenes support. What I’m hearing when I read this is that there is a need for a similar sort of role with respect to mooshing raw data into the actual images or video that the researchers will interpret. Does every research lab need their own expert to massage their data into visual form? Perhaps it would be more cost effective to have a data massager position that is shared or provides training and support to staff in the labs? And shouldn’t that position be in SAND?

Cool Toys pics of the day: HTML5 Readiness
4. Web technologies (Flash, WebGL, HTML5, etc.)

Knowledge Navigation Center. ‘Nuff said. They already teach workshops on Flash. HTML5 is one of my soapboxes, but I have a lot to learn about it. WebGL is going to be really important for the 3d printing I’ve been ranting about recently. If the library doesn’t already provide support for these, I’m sure they can, or could partner with other units on campus to do so.

Second Life: The NHS Next Stage Review in Second Life
5. Audio/video production

CARMA. As an aside, the library I worked in at Northwestern also had multimedia and video support services located in the library. This is a natural fit.

Pic of the day - Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE)
6. High performance computing clusters

This is being done by ARC, the entity formerly known as ORCI. ARC (Advanced Research Computing) is not in the library system, but has strong roots connecting it to both the UM School of Information and the UM Libraries. A collaboration or partnership is not at all unlikely.

Cool Toys Pic of the Day - LHC Dash
7. Mobile devices (tablets and phones)

I don’t think they mean lending devices here. I’m assuming what they mean here is people to provide support for data visualization tools on mobile devices; someone(s) who downloads and tests out new tools, and then teaches others the best practices and inside tips; coding geeks who can build new tools or custom tools if what is needed doesn’t exist; troubleshooters who can figure out mobile access challenges for dataviz tools built for desktops; people who are connected and aware of the wide range of resources in this arena. This is not a one person job, which is why I am so glad that there are already such phenomenal resources around campus.

Mobile Users Group: #ummobile
Mobile Developer Community:
U-M Mobile Developer Toolkit:
Mobile Apps Center:
Mobile Apps Dashboard:

The Med School is very active in this area, with Laurie Kirchmeier as the person who knows all.

For campus, Cassandra Carson takes point.

And then there are the hackathons.

I think we’re good with mobile, it is just bringing it all together, or being able to appropriately direct people. The Library has a number of mobile apps that they’ve released themselves (my baby is the Plain Language Medical Dictionary), and are team players within these communities.

Podcast Speaker, IT Bootcamp Series
8. Curriculum focused on visualization related topics

See above. Librarians are already teaching workshops all over campus on visualization tools and techniques. Why not collect several of these into a DataViz 101 introduction, partner librarians as co-instructors in other course around campus, build a library guide collecting support information for these courses, and so forth?

UMich School of Education Brandon Center Grand Opening
9. High resolution displays (4k+)

The Duderstadt Digital Media Commons is where most high tech equipment like this has tended to collect.The Duderstadt (a.k.a. “The Dude”) has floated back and forth from the library over the years, administratively, while remaining physically located or co-located with library space. Personally, as much as I love the Dude, I’ve been arguing for years that we need equivalent access more equitably distributed across campus, with similar resources on Central Campus, the Medical Campus, the Athletics Campus, etc. All of these locations tend to have something along these lines, but independently developed and highly variable. I’d love to see the libraries take on this sort of responsibility. I’m envisioning perhaps a series of locations with a core set of high end equipment for supporting these needs, with a small group of expert consultants who rotate from place to place on a regular schedule, creating training materials, consulting, and doing training workshops.

Zoom Digital Signage Multi Touch Table
10. Multi-touch tables or screens

See #9. These are relatively large-scale devices that allow you to interact with them through touch, rather than through a keyboard, mouse, or other external device. Even more interesting is that they allow you to use both hands, as well as gestures. There is a new small scale device of this sort for the public newly available, called the Leap Motion. The Leap is a controller that connects with your existing computer, providing you an alternate way to interface with it, using gesture-based computing. I just heard that mine is on the way, being shipped hopefully in the next few weeks. I’m rather excited, as this will give me a way to become comfortable with the interface before I am faced with the large table-sized variety. Just to clarify, gesture-based computing is different than the multi-touch interfaces. With multi-touch, you do need to touch the surface, whereas with gesture-based you can wave your hands around and have things happen. Both of them are part of a movement toward interacting with our devices in a way that is more like how we interact with the world around us.

Where you most often see a large multi-touch surface are the flat games on the floor for little kids, in movie theaters and malls. The digital balls bounce around, and the kids bounce on the mat to redirect them. Of fish, or some other digital object. For visualization, the power is that you can interact with the computer OS, windows, data, images, displays much more intuitively and faster, because you can use both hands, or use multiple fingers. There is a lot you can do, and people using table computers are already using multi-touch when the what the device does changes depending on how many fingers you use in the gesture. The standard “pinch” is a multitouch command.

My usual argument for having new tech in the libraries is to give people a chance to build the skills without having to pay for the devices. Isn’t that how libraries started with books? Not everyone could afford them, but we all needed to learn from them, so the library bought them and shared. Eh, voilà.

Continued in Part Three, with motion capture, 3d printing/scanning, Arduino boards, and more.