Sometimes for me to generate new ideas I randomly grab different topics (the more different the better) that interest me and explore what they means together. Just like chocolate and peanut butter might not have been obvious (or peanut butter and bananas, or bananas and Nutella), they turn out to be my favorite candy. Hence my choice of method name.
For example, in the area of health and healthcare what might these things result in?
microbes and storytelling
microbes and mobile
mobile and storytelling
I could go on, of course.
I think I do this because I have such varied interests and want to give all my pet ideas a day in the sun or time to play together.
Do you have a technique like this? I think we all do this, just that we have different names for it, if at all.
BTW, what do you think results in the above examples?
If you are an older runner, like me, there’s a high chance that smartwatches are nothing new to you.
In 2005, when I was at Nokia Ventures Organization, there was a team looking into mobile connected devices in sports. At one point they even hired the ex-CEO of Suunto (great guy, great stories). For those who don’t know, Suunto is a manufacturer of “wrist-top computers”. Yes, these are now known as smartwatches (that’s a Suunto T6 in the image to the right).
Back then was an interesting time for mobile sports tech: accelerometers were getting cheaper (Nokia was considering buying a company in that space), ANT was being promised as the ideal wireless networking for personal area networks and various sports watch manufacturers were adopting it, and GPS was becoming more widespread. Also, Nokia had a really cool app called SportsTracker that could use GPS to track your sports activities.
Using a smartwatch in 2005
I bought a Suunto T6 (which comes with a heart-rate monitor strap and a barometer inside) and an accelerometer for €500 (the GPS pod wasn’t available yet). The HR monitor and accelerometer communicated with the watch via ANT wireless. Comparing it to the experience I had with SportsTracker (with GPS pod if phone didn’t have it), I got a great feel for what works and doesn’t in smartwatches and accessories (logging it all in some form in LifeBlog, of course).
What did I learn?
The watch is a surface. Small and, by convention, glance-able, the watch has its limitation dictated by its form factor. No big surprise there. For example, having a small screen as a readout for my current HR, speed, and time is crucial for my run. I really never expect to do any deep interaction with the watch, either when in motion or when not, except what could be done with the buttons and small interface the watch has (start, stop, splits, perhaps even review log).
Data has a freshness. Every data has its timeframe of usefulness and value. For example, once again, viewing the current HR, speed, and time helps me manage the run as it happens. But then, once downloaded to a computer, the HR and speed were relevant as a trend, not necessarily as an instant reading.
Data has its time scale. For example, weather changes over hours, not minutes; a run is measured over tens of minutes and hours; HR and speed are averaged over seconds for current reading, but over the course of the run for overall activity performance. When and how data is useful and how you interact with it changes, it’s not a fixed thing.
Data integration adds value. Having various sensors (speed, time, altitude, HR, GPS), plus adding other measured data such as temperature, weather, maps, allows calculations of other interesting things at the intersection of all this data. Though it’s not always true that more sensors and measurements are better.
The connection to other “surfaces” is critical. Being able to easily view the data on another larger surface, say a PC or, these days, a smartphone, allows greater exploration of the data after the event. The watch is one surface in our overall pervasive computing environment. Use it as such, and take advantage of the form factors of other surfaces.
Where folks will trip up
I think each of these areas listed above will be spots where the “new” smartwatch manufacturers will trip up.
For example, my biggest concern is that smartwatch makers will forget that the watch is a surface on the wrist, thus best suited for certain interaction modes. When I hear things like making calls and texting, I think the manufacturers are missing a trick.
At Nokia, we used to talk about the “usability knee,” that quick fall-off of usability as a mobile device is pushed to do things it really isn’t made to do, due to form factor, interface design, and the like. Really, these smartwatches can’t be more interactive than an iPod Nano. If you think you are going to shove a smartphone into a writwatch, then join the crowd of “cool but failed” tech.
And already I see connected device makers tripping up on the data integration and exploration side, providing interfaces too complex to easily interpret the data that comes off the device (I am looking at you FitBit).
Simple, mobile lifestyle
Simplicity will be key. Understand how the watch is a surface; that the data has a complexity in its value (in time and scale); and how best to interact with that data on various surfaces, from the watch to other larger screens, which also have different usability and interactivity environments.
Back in 2005, when talking about fusion of PC and mobile, I used to talk about the Mobile Lifestyle, that the mobile is not a PC, that it requires a different way of thinking that is consistent with the way folks expect to use a mobile device. PCs are lean forward, flat surface, two eyes, two hands, large screen, keyboard. Mobiles are in-pocket, lean back, interruptive, snippets of time, one-handed, two thumbs, on the move. Does that make the watch, interrruptive, instant, glanceable, one-touch, one-finger, [calm? pervasive? suggest more?]?
Back then, I knew that trying to replicate the computer experience on mobile devices was wrong. Same goes for now: trying to replicate the smartphone experience on watches is also wrong.
Let’s see how these manufacturers do.
What do you think?
 Alas, after all the thinking and skills that they had, the best they came up with was a fancy pedometer.
 Being a measurement geek and an athlete, he told me a story of when he was wearing multiple watches, HR monitors, and other pods on a run. He was worried he was going to be stuck by lightning, he had so many electronics on him. And you thought QS was new.
 Garmin, Timex, Suunto, Polar – all well known wrist-top computer manufacturers. Products range from dive computers (where Suunto got its start) to running and swimming and climbing wrist computers. And all started many years before folks got excited over the Pebble, or even the FitBit.
 Before the phones had GPS (remember the N95?) I used fobs like these. And yes, I was using apps on a smartphone long before the iPhone and the App Store came out. Another example how the old became new again.
 The Suunto T6 connects to the PC with a USB cable that clipps to contacts on the watch. In 2005, the PC software was atrocious (I eventually stopped using it for many years). These days Suunto has a website where all the data goes (via the PC, though) and only in the last two years or so has it become usable.
 A term I picked up from my old Nokia Ventures Organization boss, Christian Lindholm, long before we started working together.
 A great example of folks not getting the way these interactive surfaces need to fit their “lifestyle” is in iPads. No, you do not put a keypad on the iPad. That defeats the purpose of the tablet. If you want a small surface with a keyboard, buy a Mac Air. Pet peeve of mine.
I feel that single-target drugs are getting harder to make.
I remember years back, when there were three AIDS drugs going through clinical trials. We were all shocked when all of them failed. But some smart soul realized that when combined, the three were a miracle cocktail. Indeed, fast forward to the present and this cocktail has basically turned AIDS from a death-sentence to a background disease (of course, I simplify – the point is the success of the cocktail, combination therapy).
Combination therapy in this sense, should not be confused with drugs that are not complementary. For example, MMR and DPT vaccines are mixes of individual independent vaccines.
I claim that we need to explore how combinations of drugs, say antibiotics or antivirals, can work better than the constituent drugs alone.
Alas, as far as I can tell, this will complicate clinical trials, trying to deconvolute the contribution of each individual component. But I am hopeful that tools that can munge and analyze large data sets might able to do this deconvolution.
The development of novel combination therapies is one of several strategies that are currently being pursued to combat tuberculosis TB. Recently, researchers at the XIX International AIDS Conference presented the results of a groundbreaking clinical trial which showed that a combination of three drugs can kill more than 99% of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in infected patients.
Gamification? One challenge with all of these monitoring devices is keeping people engaged for longer than the excitement of a new whiz-bang electronic device can last. Also, the challenge is that these devices become less useful as the behavior they seek to modify takes hold. To keep relevant and engaging, device makers have created fancy data interfaces, social connections, and, even gamification.
Gamification is the idea that adding game elements, such as badges, achievement awards, cheering, or leaderboards, makes an activity more engaging. And there might be cases where gamification might make something more engaging, though I can’t see how managing migraines can be turned into a game.
Back to our toothbrush.
Justifying ends and means
The toothbrush system awards folks on how much and how long they brush their teeth.
This brings me to my first concern: be careful what you measure. Is there a correlation between good oral health and frequency and length of brushing? Sure, there is some correlation, but when do diminishing returns kick in? Sure, brushing after meals is good. But if you reward someone for frequency and duration of brushing, how long until someone is brushing all the time just to get achievement awards? Yes, kids can be obsessive like that. [And that music the kid listens to for as long as they brush? Watch them try to play the same tune for a very long time, constantly brushing without stop.]
This brings me to my second concern: why can’t good health be the reward? I understand that we want to reward good behavior, but how can we do that without gimmiky gaming badges and awards, especially when it has something to do with our health? To me, any health program that tries to modify behavior should do it through promoting good behavior rather than conditioning the behavior through non-related rewards. This goes for a diet (learning how to eat right, not just lose weight) or a toothbrush (learning proper oral hygiene, not gaming a system).
This brings me to my third concern: coupons. Really? What I didn’t say is that the toothbrush users will also be rewarded with coupons. And coupons just rub me the wrong way. For one, the connection between coupons and tooth brushing doesn’t seem clear to me. Also, and back to the previous two concerns, are we trying to devise a nifty coupon-generating device or are we trying to instill good brushing habit and proper oral hygiene?
How devices help I totally think the use of an electronic toothbrush can be quite beneficial to promoting proper oral health. As part of a system of periodic check-ups, proper eating, and flossing, brushing is important. And tracking brushing might be good for educating children, tracking and correlating usage patterns with dental or oral outcomes, or even for seniors to keep track of the last time they brushed.
To be fair, the toothbrush makers do a good job of pointing all this out. But none of these really should require coupons or achievement badges to get folks to do it. Heck, so many of us already brush our teeth daily without coupons or awards. Simply wanting to avoid bad dentist visits and halitosis are good motivators, too. So, perhaps a bit of measurement can help folks who are a bit on the slack side. But in the end, it’s good health we want, not a clockwork orange coupon-clipper with shiny teeth.
What do you think? Am I being a frump?
[Thank you @changeist for unknowingly providing the spark to write this.]
One of my favorite radio stations in the Boston area, Phoenix WFNX 101.7, died an inglorious death last year. But, like the phoenix, it rose from its ashes as a live streaming radio station, supported by Boston.com (my home page for 10+ years). Now called RBdC (Radio Boston.com) it has multiple ways to access the radio stream. One of them is, of course, a mobile app.
While the idea of a digital-only local radio station is fantastic, I was a bit disappointed that the mobile app missed a few tricks. It failed to take advantage of the mobile modality (what I sometimes call the “mobile lifestyle”), and seems to act like some PC app.
Let me show you.
Main screen – what’s missing?
The one major major omission that stands out like a big thumbs-up is a “Like” button. One of the benefits of a streaming station is the ability to collect data on the listeners – when, where, how long, who. But something that is even better, is that a music player is a feedback conduit. Sure, they could track how many tracks are purchased or shared, but I think they would get a ton of valuable data with a “Like” button. That would give feedback to the DJs on what is resonating with listeners – and of course, that data would be sliced and diced based on who is listening, when, where, and how long.
RBdC, use this app as a data collection tool to not only improve your station, but provide valuable data to your advertisers. And, no, you don’t really need to get creepy about it. There’s a ton of usage data (plus the “Like”) that you can collect that isn’t a violation of privacy.
Now imagine if all ads (and interstitials) also had their graphic and folks could “Like” them? Take that back to your advertisers.
[Gah, listening right now and so want to fave a tune. Great radio station as always, and I want to tell you so!]
The only other comment I have on the main screen is that ton of white space. Why haven’t they used that whole space for the song graphic? What is that upper open space going to be used for?
This ain’t your grandfathers radio I think it’s great that I can see what songs have played before. But why can’t I jump backwards and start the stream earlier? And where’s the pause button? As this is a stream, let me interact non-real-time, non-linearly with the station. Give me the ability to jump back or pause the stream. I know that this might be an issue with ads (ok, so don’t give me a FF button). But at least let me enter the stream at different points. One use would simply be that I see a song I love in the back stream or I want to replay it. Please?
And this is an app on a phone, so there will be many interruptions. I’d be pissed if I was into a tune and then got a call and missed most of the tune.
Also, as this is on a phone, why are the only options to share email or Facebook? What about text message (or Twitter for that matter)? I could text (tweet) a link to the song to a friend and the link opens up their RBdC app on their phone (and it starts at the beginning of the song) so they can hear the song as well and share the experience with me (if they didn’t have the app, it opens up the store to download it – spread that usage!).
Do my ears deceive me?
One last thing: I’ve used other streaming music apps, such as iHeartRadio and Pandora. The quality of the music on those apps is really rich and good on my phone. I feel that the audio quality RBdC app is just OK. I don’t think it’s using the full bandwidth it could use to stream music. Indeed, the science of streaming audio is ancient and I expect the quality of the audio to be the max the pipe can provide. Considering that my kids and I never use the radio in the car, blasting streaming tunes driving 8065mph down the highway with full, rich audio, over 3G, I think RBdC could do the same.
I’m not writing this to poop on RBdC. They deserve a special place in the Boston music scene pantheon, both pre-break up and now as carrying the torch of alternative music in an age of pop-ification and homogenization of radio and TV music.
This exercise was simply to point simple ways a mobile app can take advantage of mobile and not just be a port of a desktop experience into a small screen. It frustrates me to no end when folks think a phone is a small computer. No, you need to understand the mobile lifestyle.
This isn’t 2005. It’s a very different world from what I wrote about at the start of this blog. The users, networks, and phones are way more sophisticated. So, I expect way more.
For those who know me, I haven’t spoken about mobile in a while (the therapist asked me to avoid it). But lately at work (around healthcare and life sciences) mobile has been smacking me in the face, so that part of my brain woke up and I’m back to mobile (to quote a famous mobile genius “Because I can’t shut-up”.). Expect more rantings in future.
[Argh! RadioBdC, another string of f-ing awesome tunes you're playing in my head and I can't tell you. You guys are great and I want you to know!]
Do you have an app that misses a few key mobile-savvy features?
I’ve been meaning to comment on App.net, a new for-fee social networking service. To me, it seems that App.net is trying to build an alternative social web – one where the users are not the product and the service isn’t built for advertisers to mine.
Is this a Shadow Web? Is this the first step to taking back the Cloud (here are my rantson this)? Can this blossom into a peer-to-peer social networking system where the apps live on the edge, the data belongs to the user, and where some third-person (aka the advertiser) isn’t mining all you do for their own benefit (and not yours)?
Glenn Fleishman, from TidBITS, has a great long article on App.net, explaining what it is, what it is trying to achieve, and listing some things that could be built upon it (see below). It’s an exciting list.
App.net also isn’t restricting itself to being just like Twitter in terms of features. There’s a lot of room to grow, including messages longer than 256 characters and more interesting relationships among those messages. Feedback from paying users and early developers will certainly shape the kind of features App.net offers as well. Here are a few early ideas for systems that could use App.net’s infrastructure:
Build a private text-messaging system like iMessage that uses standard Jabber (XMPP) protocols to create a gateway to work with the Messages app and other chat systems.
Provide a kind of spam-free verified short email system among one’s social graph through email plug-ins that would show incoming messages and allow messages to be interleaved with regular email.
Offer RSS feeds of all the URLs noted by those you follow, those who follow you, public lists, and other groups.
Provide ebook annotation, in which notes could be added to books and automatically synced using EPUB and PDF software that relied on App.net for social relationships, message storage, and message notification.
For computer-to-computer interaction, offer an alternative to HTTP, proprietary software, or email. Lightweight “listening” modules and libraries could use App.net as the backbone for sending automated messages, keeping them persistent for later review, queuing them in the event of network or server outages on the ends, and notifying humans of problems or status.
What do you think of App.net? Is this one more attempt by folks who want to keep the Internet open and useful for all? How can this fail? How can this succeed?
Last Christmas-time, I was driving to go get my parents (they live a few states away) and was listening to a Science Friday about Mars. The guest was an advocate for human travel to Mars and mentioned how much it would cost to get there. I don’t know if Ira or the guest mentioned it, but I realized that the cost of the trip, spread over a 5 year program, was on the same order as a blockbuster Hollywood movie.
I immediately dictated an outline story for my entry into NaNoWriMo 2012 (I had recently completed NaNoWriMo 2011). The story would be about a Hollywood producer making a multi-year, multi-movie, reality-TV, and ancillary products production that would follow selection, training, and trip of a crew, the construction of the spacecraft, and other exciting thrills of a novel. [Though, like my other two novels and anthology of short stories, it probably won't be published beyond a personal copy from Lulu.com.]
Over the intervening months, the outline had become heftier and heftier, so I decided to forgo NaNoWriMo and, last Wednesday, I put down the opening scene. [Usually, my stories bounce around my head for a while, different key scenes developing and begging for attention, until the opening scene gels and demands to be written. It all then flows from that opening.]
Today, I wanted to look up again the current estimates of a manned trip to Mars. An, lo!, I found an organization that indeed is thinking of a commercially-funded Mars mission with funding from a reality-TV show (records indicate the announcement was 01 June 2012).
Human settlement of Mars in 2023
Mars One will take humanity to Mars in 2023, to establish the foundation of a permanent settlement from which we will prosper, learn, and grow. Before the first crew lands, Mars One will have established a habitable, sustainable settlement designed to receive new astronauts every two years. To accomplish this, Mars One has developed a precise, realistic plan based entirely upon existing technologies. It is both economically and logistically feasible, in motion through the aggregation of existing suppliers and experts in space exploration.We invite you to participate in this journey, by sharing our vision with your friends, by supporting our effort, and perhaps, by becoming the next Mars astronaut yourself.
Ideas are not unique
I’m not saying the brilliance here is on par with Leibnitz and Newton inventing calculus at the same time, but it’s one more of my examples that if you have an idea, it’s highly likely someone else does too. The key thing, of course, is all in the execution. Indeed, I’ve had many great ideas that I’ve seen come into being a few years later. By someone else. By someone more driven and talented.
OK, I never intended to actually drive a Mars program, but, to write the fiction, I’ve done a lot of thinking about it. And, of course, the way I see my story unfolding has the liberty of fiction, for me to craft the storyline in a way that reality doesn’t necessarily allow.
I wish the MarsOne folks the best of luck. I do think I’ll continue with the storyline, though the thrill of mixing reality-TV funding with a Mars mission has lost its shine a bit. Nonetheless, the story is calling me to write it, and there are lots of twists and turns that I know will not be part of the MarsOne story, so it’ll still be a fun story to tell.
Now is the time
What is true, though, is that I need to get this damned story off my chest, fast, now the MarsOne is making their mark. [And thank you, MarsOne, for some additional ideas for me to consider in my story.]
As for you, if you have an idea you believe in, do it NOW, post haste, toot sweet. Because there is someone out there with the same goddamn idea, and if you do nothing, they will get all the credit. Even if you planned it all out 6 months or 6 years before them.
Do you have a similar story of a well thought out plan that someone else executes on?
I wasn’t so sure how to describe Treato. It’s really interesting – mixing semantic analysis, social media, medical records, and analysis – Treato is really the next level of how consumers research diseases.
The image to the right is one that came from searching for Lyme disease.
I am not sure how they assemble that graphic, but I guess it’s a mixture of curation (plainly telling the system the usual drugs) and seeing what folks report they took (by combing the web). [Aside: It seems to be just listing the most used drugs (and knowing how the disease is treated, it looks like that to me). I wonder if there's enough data for them to actually rank the drugs based on favorable outcomes, too. Outcomes analytics is where my head is always at, these days.]
Treato says they identified “over 160,000 English language websites, containing user-generated-content about medications and symptoms.” And that they “have searched and mapped thousands of these sites and indexed over 1 billion posts, covering well over 11,000 drug brands.” And they “have organized and analyzed this vast amount of data to create statistically proven insights about every aspect of medication use” [from their About page.]
I am not sure if they do this, but I’d like to see Treato applying their engine to sites like Patients Like Me, or 23 and Me, where there is an even richer set of data connecting people, disease, and outcomes.
And I am not sure, but they say the throw in patient records from HMOs, which I guess must mean claims data (which one can buy). But it would be cool if they could also mine medical record notes as well. They have the tech to do it, it’s just a matter of pointing their analytics tools to a new source (hm, what about Practice Fusion?).
I’m always thinking of how to extract meaning from medical records. So, Treato blows my mind.
Do you know of any other consumer disease research tools as sophisticated as Treato?
Hm, I wonder if they have enough to model trends, `a la Google Flu Trends, and then predict out-breaks? And it would be cool if Treato published a Health of the Nation – sort of like a Google Zeitgeist – of what is searched for and trends in diseases. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that. Perhaps the CDC has something like this? For sure Treato is sitting on meaningful data they could use for this report. What do you think?
When I was at SXSW, I spent most of my time at either Big Data or Healthcare sessions. The interesting thing is that the Big Data sessions always devolved to talking about healthcare and the healthcare sessions always spoke about Big Data.
One aspect of the fusion of big data and healthcare that kept coming up was personal health monitoring. And since SXSW I have spoken and listened to a few folks (@dpatil, @rodrigoATCG, @nagle5000, @syntheticzero, and Sanjiv Shah) exploring measurement, self-analysis, and health devices.
Back in 2004-05, I worked on a product called Lifeblog – it collected all your SMS, MMS, photos, and videos into a timeline on your PC. It was way advanced for its time, and pointed to a future where we would cache our life’s stream of data. Working on that set me off thinking of sensors, lifestreaming, visualization of personal data (one set of discussions around visualizing recorded mobile phone usage data involved a colleague who left Nokia to set up @futureful – yes Nokia dabbled in this space once), my vision for what was supposed to be Ovi, my interest in lifestream aggregation, and a dotted line all the way to me getting involved in Big Data and Healthcare and Life Sciences in my role at IBM.
So, what do I see today in terms of these personal health devices?
At HIMSS in February, a big healthcare IT event, there was a whole section promoted by Qualcomm that was about mobile health measurement devices, such as the Asthmopolis inhaler sensor, and many mobile cardiac monitors. Also, there is a strong move (disclaimer, IBM is a big promoter) of the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH), which calls for sensors to provide independence to the patient, care to be provided outside the clinic, and constant monitoring for adverse events.
Nike Fuel was all over SXSW, and FitBit is expanding their their product portfolio. IBM is involved in the (young-mom) activity monitor BodyMedia. And here’s an article of the VC behind the gamified (shudder) heart monitor, Basis. And 23andMe’s Linda Avey (@lindaavey) started up a company (with Mitsu Hideishi, @syntheticzero) called Curious, specifically to explore how to make personal health data available to the (non Quantified Self) masses.
And of course, I don’t need to go into the amazing things happening in the Quantified Self world. Here’s an exciting post of a recent meet up. Look at all the projects!
More recently (and what triggered this post) is the news (link via @erigentry) that FourSquare founder, Naveen Selvadurai, is getting into health monitoring. Nothing captures the attention more of investors than some successful entrepreneur entering a new field that most mainstream folks have not thought of.
Innovation from the outside
One thing that hit me is that whatever arises from the fusion of Big Data and personal health measurement, it will come from outside the healthcare industry. Part of that is because in the healthcare industry, they are thinking of hospitals, chronic conditions, FDA, reimbursements, privacy, and so forth. Too much baggage, I think.
I had hoped that payers would see the importance of tracking health outside the clinic, especially for incentives or rebates on paying for care. My thought now is that they will end up buying someone rather than building something.
Which leads me to my realization that folks outside the industry have none of that baggage, have oodles of experience in consumer web services and data visualization, and, perhaps most importantly, view these devices as curious toys that are begging to be played with in interesting and novel ways.
But the challenge is not to alienate the non-techies who are interested in keeping an eye on their health, but are not as driven as the usual QSer. QSers are the bleeding edge of all this. My brainwave here and excitement is how to being this to the rest of us, making the ideas of QS more mainstream.
“It is NOT about the data but how it inspires”
This quote is from Rodrigo Martinez (@rodrigoATCG) from the IDEO healthcare practice. It dovetails nicely with a comment from DJ Patil (@dpatil) that, “OK, so my super intelligent scale tells me I’m fat. But I can see that looking in the mirror.”
“Inspire” is what I’d expect from an IDEO designer, and that’s fine. But for me, it’s really about motivation – how to stay interested in my health, effect the changes that need to be done, and be proud of my accomplishments. I don’t think “gamification” (as in badges and levels) is the answer (and I find it a bit tacky). I think there are more positive ways to motivate people – competition, social pressure, monetary incentives (and of course, I’d love to see the health plans get involved – even perhaps mandating).
What behaviors are we trying to promote by making this data visible to people? And, more importantly for anything that tries to optimize a parameter, what should we measure? Obviously the parameters we measure should represent something we wish to modify (isn’t the whole point about modifying a behavior to maintain or improve health?).
What do you think? Next Monday, I’ll be in Minneapolis participating in a predictive analytics event. I’ll be part of an executive roundtable, a breakout session on predictive analytics, and a general audience talk on the Predictive Power of Big Data Analytics in Healthcare. One thing I will touch on is the fusion of Big Data and personal health monitoring (another reason for this post). I’m sure I’ll get a lot of feedback on this topic – the event host is a device manufacturer with some monitoring devices of their own.
I also wanted to point out that IBM, my employer, published last year an excellent report on “liberating the information seeker” and The Future of Connected Devices (download PDF). I highly suggest you read it if you’re interested in this space.
So, what do you think? Do you use any of these devices, even just a heart rate monitor while running? A pedometer? What do you think will be the way we bridge the intense measuring world of the quantified self to a user of a device who just needs a little help to stay healthy?
Of course, this post is about devices and personal health. I see some interesting opportunities with personal medical records. But that’s a different aspect of Big Data and healthcare and best left for a different post.
I’ll leave you with a video of a well-used healthcare monitoring example at IBM – the Data Baby. Read the case study too (PDF). Disclaimer, I am part of the team that sells the streaming analytics product used for this project.
Image from dpstyles™ (There’s a weird cognection behind this image: I searched for CC images of Nike Fuel on Flickr and came up with this one, which I thought was pretty cool. When I looked at the other images, I realized this was Dennis Crowley’s stream. This post was triggered by a the Selvadurai news item mentioned above. Weird.)
“Researchers have documented repeated evolution in other organisms, but the sticklebacks are unique because the freshwater transition has occurred so many times. “Sticklebacks have been a phenomenal system for understanding rapid evolution,” says evolutionary biologist Erica Bree Rosenblum of the University of California, Berkeley, who wasn’t involved in the study. “This paper shows that repeated evolution can occur by ‘reusing’ the same genetic mechanisms over and over again.”"
This quote is from a review in Science of a Nature paper where stickleback fish genomes were sequenced and compared. The catch is, the stickleback fish used to be a sea fish until glaciers melted 10,000 years ago and left many stranded in freshwater lakes and streams.
What then happened is that the freshwater sticklebacks all had to evolve to survive in the freshwater.
What is interesting, is that it’s clear that all of these fish evolved the same adaptations. And now there is genetic evidence that most of these independent changes were in the same places of the genome in each of these freshwater fish.
While this has been seen in other organisms, the stickleback provide an experiment where this has happened multiple times, showing “repeated evolution can occur by ‘reusing’ the same genetic mechanisms over and over again.”
Adjacent possibles I am not surprised.
I picked up a term from futurist Paul Saffo, “adjacent possible” (I use it a lot to point out interesting things in evolution). Applied to evolution, it means an organism can really only sample the possible mutation paths that are adjacent to its current make-up. An organism cannot evolve from bacteria to bird in one move, much like “you can’t get there from here” in one move. In both cases, each step must be an adjacent possible step.
In this case, all the sticklebacks had similar adjacent possible ways to adjust to freshwater living. So they were constrained by their genome. But also, the environment exerted similar pressures, so the adjacent possible were further constrained.
The sticklebacks all had to make the same choices, with the same starting material, to adapt to the same environment.