Monday, January 17, 2011

Digital Health at the Consumer Electronics Show

Author: Thuc Huynh, MD

Fantastic. Useful. Strange. What?

Those were the words that came to mind as I walked down the aisles of the trade show's Digital Health section.

iHealth and Withings were there. You may remember them from when we wrote about their newest inventions, a blood pressure cuff that attaches to the iPhone. Seeing the devices in person and trying them out really was exciting. It made me become hopeful for having a truly portable, good-looking, accurate device in my travel medical bag for house calls.

Among the useful were a slew of slim-lined fitness sensors based off of ANT+ technology, a small chip requiring ultra-low power to wirelessly network with applications. You could run, cycle, row and be able to record your cadence, power, speed, and heart rate in real time and then review the information on a mobile platform or website. Good for those who are into fitness and training.

One of the stranger things I saw was a booth that marketed a personal health record. However, the person running the booth was not a representative of the company, they were a sales-rep from a bluetooth technology company. They knew the bare basics of the program but were unable to answer any detailed questions. That was unfortunate.

And the one device that made me go, "What?" was a 1970's looking trapezoidal box with rows of red circular buttons on it. It looked like the game, Whack a Mole except the red buttons you whack light up like the game Simon Says. The device was made to keep your brain stimulated using various "games" programmed in this very large trapezoid box. However, there were no visible directions and the representative was unable to articulate how to use the device. So I left the booth very confused.

All in all, I had a great time at the Consumer Electronics Show. I saw a ton of health gadgets. Some were great. Some missed the mark. It will be exciting to see which products make it to mass market.

About the author:

Dr. Thuc Huynh is CEO of ScrubdIN, a startup company that aims to help health professionals choose their next medical app. Her main interest lies around how medicine can play a role with web 2.0 and social media. Dr. Huynh is currently Chief Resident at her Family Medicine Residency in Rapid City, SD and received her B.S. and M.D. at the Medical University of the Americas.

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