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Tech Culture: Ep. 92: The quantified self and the healthy body

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Tech Culture: Ep. 92: The quantified self and the healthy body

30:32 /

Two startups give you feedback on how you walk, move, stand, and sit to make you a more aware and healthier person.

-- By everyone -- the reporters' roundtable I'm Rafe -- in in San Francisco in this is our weekly show on a single tech topic each time. Now today we're covering an emerging tech -- and I really interest and it's called the quantified -- movement and in particular how it applies to health care. Their right now we're collecting people are clicking a lot of data streams on what we do how we feel how we move where we aren't -- it's called the data exhaust and some people -- it can be very valuable. Why. Well that's the question we're talking about today and one of the answers but not the only one. Is to know more about ourselves to live better healthier lives. So today we're talking with two entrepreneurs who are working in that particular subset of -- self. Body monitoring with the goals of making us healthier. The two guests who I think you're gonna find fascinating our first across from me many shipper Tosh of -- back. -- back makes a little sensor that monitors your posture I covered it from the launch of the demo conference earlier this week. And also here in the studio Jeff poll of of basis which makes a wristwatch technology that can monitor many many aspects of what your body is doing. I covered that in rates radar month or two back to Jeff Banesha thank you so much for coming and joining us talk about this. My pleasure. So let's get started here I wanna talk about first a little history of body monitoring before we get into these modern contemporary products that you guys are doing so. When we what was first was the odometer -- store or or what I mean. Academics in the scale was actually first at and that was the the first device that MacDonald regularly engage with that would tell us something water bodies out to turn it over time and then and and certainly maybe now we could argue that the founders the most popular. And then the -- it came along. And it was that down. Is that a successful product was ahead of this time house has infected by the way for those you don't remember this is another product launch and one of these shows this was techcrunch forty or fifty couple years ago. It's this little it's it's basically pedometer with no display includes -- on your belt and then you have the docket and it upload your data to the Internet -- -- view it. Was that the right product for the time is -- the right product for now. I think it's only one of several now I do think it's successful I I don't several people who have -- -- -- people engage with the messy office it's of competitions you know how many steps if you want to neighbors as me. So yeah I think they've done a good job of of of entering the space and trying to. Make much more consumer approachable if you like. This idea of collecting data about your body trying to turn it into -- about your health and as you rightly point out it's it's an accelerant -- pedometer so that they can only get it so much data but but -- I think I think they've done a good job of helping redefine this space is something that's very approachable for the rest of. So when did this become. -- I know I know you guys are health care companies not so corporate -- McConnell in the article went to this whole thing become lumped into this this movement has talked about briefly -- -- you wanna take on the He should -- the quantify -- what is that all about. You -- to -- the way we seated on a by itself -- this is a unique moment in time where. We can combined emerging technologies data in an intelligent algorithms. To help empower people to do the little things in life. And to take better care of themselves to dramatically improve their lives -- in the case -- -- back it. Better understanding. Your posture your movement. And being able to use that data and intelligent algorithms we give youths and that you can make adjustments in your life. That's how we see the quantified -- until we plug and. Now there's couple things that we need in order for this moving to go anywhere and and one of them is the technology invented the sensor technology. But there are some other technologies we need they all have to come together to make this happen and what are some of the other things that that are necessary for this to work. In my point of view that the key when the goes with -- the ever more affordable and ever more sophisticated sensor technology is the power -- the web its its cloud computing and our device. While it's a sensor that you Wear all the time and collects data a lot of the analysis and insight of that data comes from the cloud and as you have talked to many many companies capture them. Cloud computing becomes more approachable and more affordable and easier to scale every day as well so for us -- those two things and. No one piece -- I would add to that is. -- data is only as interesting and useful as you make meaning behind were swimming in a world that we are -- way we work -- overloaded. Eggs and you guys are generating even more of and and -- you know our approach is to try and make it as compelling and engaging -- the user experience as possible. How do you use that data to help people and -- more themselves about. Their bodies and how you you know really motivates them to do better. Okay so before we get into some of the meteor topics about where we are right now -- stuff that -- you guys are doing because I think -- the really fun products. Unleashing you first let's look back this is a product that was just announced that the demo conference a few days ago yesterday -- before -- remember anyway. Really fun product what are you doing show us the product first of all. So are so it has two parts to -- it is very thin flexible He says sensor that goes on your lower back. And stick your product on your body you do have very rarely do I cover -- of products and -- -- -- aunt -- says it's just the beginning assuming. Okay -- has not gone -- and so and the way it works at 82 -- so this adhesive sensor -- are backed knows when you're in good posture vs bad posture. And when you're -- -- -- -- you very discrete vibration to let you know. But it doesn't stop there it communicates wirelessly with your Smartphone. And connection to an engaging application that helps you learn track what danger -- -- for that -- how. Well did you do in moving in sitting and walking. And it allows you to engage with others who maybe have similar goals are similar problems in terms of posture act pain and so it's just really again it goes back to thinking each right we're collecting data here. On attached. But what really didn't win an engagement -- happens on the mobile -- and the data you now I have to say. By the way when we met at after your demo at demo that the funny thing about talking to them and Asia and the other people at the company anybody else -- in her circles is that -- that very concept that somebody in the group of people who are talking about -- back. Cause -- with a -- to be self aware of their posture I have never had a standard meeting with more people pushing a -- She was the weirdest thing. And that's really one of the power and powerful things and -- -- working on here it's about creating that mind body awareness. And you do -- initially through feedback through real time feedback but what happens over time is that real mind body awareness becomes so. Much a part of you that it becomes muscle memory and then you don't even if it becomes habit -- you don't even have to think about. Now. If people are really gonna stick this thing on the -- I mean that that seems a little -- invasive and obnoxious is something to do every morning and in charge of the sensors and -- -- Really think people -- gonna do this. I know people are gonna do it we already have thousands of people we -- launched our product is in a market ready and we have thousands of people signed up for -- You'd be amazed what people and pain and back pain and people also people who work on their -- what they're willing to do. And this is such -- discrete. Things that were asking them to do it and we actually think that it's gonna be embedded into the fabric of their everyday lives button. Okay so that is little back. And also Najaf has it -- at different part of -- body here. And yes that He does -- next week I reported around yeah -- -- that you have what's -- one of ancient things happening right now technology. With mobile computing. Is that kids these days they don't -- watches. The wrist as a real estate is being freed up I'm old fashioned. -- but most people now mean it if you're in your in your early twenties or you're in school this is your wristwatch. -- watch. Which means that you. We're doing new stuff on the wrist and one of the things that's happening is we're putting sensors -- and that's what basis is doing tell -- that we -- here. Yes -- as I mentioned earlier and our product if -- -- it's -- combination of two things it's a sensor reading it to wearing your body and in our case we've embodied that sensor array in the form of a watches -- just -- to -- -- and get this. -- show here it's obviously telling me the time the beneath that it's actually showing me my real time heart rate. So this device has multiple sensors and one of the key ones in the when those are showing there is that it can actually monitors your heart rate. Beat to beat heart rate on an ongoing basis continuously without wearing a chest strap without having to enter -- yourself. I'm and in addition to heart rate we'll get that you know -- and these things we think there are quite insightful we measure temperature increase in temperature the ambient temperature of the room temperature. We measure something called galvanic skin response which among many other technical things allows us to measure -- levels which helps -- data with other things. I'm and that of course lastly it has you know three degree three axis XL router and it might like it it does little bomber's view that helps -- gauge them. Just to sidetrack here a little bit when you talk uploading Celeron that are on your wrist and there's one thing -- -- Celeron or under court -- can tell if you're walking. You're on the -- which is -- That's a different part of the body that is how do you tell activity I mean if I'm bicycling -- -- Well and it it boils down to what was an earlier about algorithms it's about having smart software that runs on the device and that can recommend of these things and that's why we have -- science team on that basis that that runs these devices in comparison to other devices and we have people that run through an -- -- routine -- Who in our lab so that we can. Because algorithms and really get. A good idea of how much and -- seriously -- that movement you can tell the difference between whether I'm walking running biking in a car. Sitting on my -- working yes. Real answer in a minute -- the excel runners these days are are are sensitive. And on top of that we have various that's skates in about. -- do these things now both cases you take this data and you upload it to the -- right that's and there are guessing in the case of the look back sensor that looks like a pretty not a very smart. Or it data gathering -- if that's all up loaders actually were remembering data as well. A little bit -- -- -- it has to be very power efficient infinite and the data and patches them. Okay so we've got this -- going up to the web and this is. Very personal data now we can use it as both you guys are doing. To tell us. You know to make me -- it's okay you -- 8000 steps today. Try 8500 tomorrow or you know use you you sat up straight a little more than yesterday -- a little better tomorrow. But at some point this data is very personal very private especially I mean both you guys can measure a lot of activities and -- -- want people knowing what I'm doing inland. How do you protect that information. From and we just we just about the -- recovering Scarlett Johansson -- you know you know personal photos getting hacked. -- if your databases get hacked. Your customers and you are big trouble. So for -- in a security is. Priority number one and we are direct to consumer and users completely control their data and -- they do. That's what you say. But you know that's the same is true with the funny how do you how you actually protecting people for the information from. Being used in this weakening subpoena door and you hear military were waiting to us with this. In this is not just -- not just qualify itself but is also goes down to a lot of the automotive sensor information about -- computers crash recording devices. Speed sensors and all that stuff that all our devices now are recording what we do. And sometimes what we do may be outside the bounds what is considered either common sense or illegal. To be clear I don't want insurance companies knowing -- and Islam buying them and what -- needing a win how much exercise I'm not getting. And once they find out that they can get this data how long -- it until the insurance companies -- to say. If you want to 10% reduction your rate where this device and send us that data. And that terrifies me. Well I think you've identified really two separate issues here one is the basic idea of cloud computing security -- you know this is obviously. Not unique to either of us it's that it's it's been an ongoing issue. From. For meant as an example we -- putting a lot of your financial information. And you know this is a constant. Balancing act that consumers and entrepreneurs like us. Go through where they're looking for. The convenience in the power and life changing technology that comics available and in order to do that. -- the -- of their information available lots and lots and lots of technology goes into security you can do encryption you can make sure that. You know that that the various links are -- and in in in many ways and of course make sure the facilities where that is stored is it's secured. I'm so I don't think that's hardly unique health information -- rewrite its its its pervasive across subordinates and the onus is on all of us as as businesses to make sure that we're protecting users the second issue that you product is regardless of the data being compromised -- As an example how can be used even intentionally. I'm in ways that that in to benefit -- or on the consumer I think you know in in the case of information that were seen. I'm being used by insurance companies -- to use -- example I think there's and there's not one of insurance company can now give you -- box you can put in your car in exchange for that but if you -- -- -- rates can no thanks well this is this is the point -- that you can't say no thanks this this behavior to the extent that exists in the world already today is very -- you. You you exchange a discount on your automotive insurance for -- font box and advice and -- don't want to you don't. -- I say no thanks but truth be told when it comes to insurance companies and the high rates they charge and an increasing spread between same monitor and on monitored. Cars or or people. At some point it becomes -- -- an economical decision to say no thanks to some people aren't able to say it and then maybe I'm going off on an orwellian swing here. But well I dealt with as we all have dealt with you know up strippers insurance cup. Is -- in and worries me I think that I think the key point and certainly our perspective on this is that the individual user to have control. Over where their data goes to have to be aware of that they have to I mean even simple things even when you want your data to be shared for instance on. On FaceBook with your social network so you can share with your social network your accomplishments or whatever that may be. That has to be -- very conscious manual decision on the part of the user -- got to be aware of it. So for us it's really about giving the user control about where -- be shared with. I hope works that well let's talk a little more about the psychology of the encouragement to. Sit up straight get more activity eat better whatever it is we should be doing that's what what your products are are are all about what are some of the best practices for. Encouragement. So that it doesn't become so obnoxious that you -- this thing off your back or rip it off your wrists are just choose to ignore it I mean how many. Fitness plans are there that. They item they asked too much or they're too obnoxious or they're too cute and people just say for get a nickel back to -- -- -- -- it's mean how. How -- learned to to to do this in a way that actually works -- psychology. That's really the key and any of these products being successful is making it a very. Find engaging user experience and that comes from making it a carrot rather than a stick. You know in general people know what they need to do -- you live healthier lives. What's hard is making not making it feel like a burden. And with our approach you know we teach you how to sit up straight and have better posture and stronger core. Not by asking you to spend another hour of your -- -- day doing something different. We take it and say -- you're gonna work at your desk for X many hours. Will just show you the better way to do you know it's it's integrating it and keep the fabric of everyday life so it doesn't become -- -- And an experience you get on the applications side makes it such that you want to keep coming back it becomes -- -- just like. People go to the gym regularly it's such a habit that that's just how they live their life. And that's I think the design challenge and and that all of us and it and then mobile -- -- -- try to make this a carrot vs stick. Mean it's just poured it where does your. The academics -- -- the studies that are around your products come from are there any. There are I think there's a lot of science behind this behavioral science and included it that actually supports what was just being said about -- -- positive reinforcement -- behavior much better than sort of rules and warnings and negative reinforcement I think when it comes -- -- it to living well to health fitness. -- I think for a lot of people to do if you're starting from not so fit position. You're getting healthy feels like this mountain it's gonna take forever. And our approach is the need to sort of remove that long term very very steep climb -- people feel like they need to make and reduce that to -- -- have to do just this week. -- here's just a few things let's make this simple to make it actionable let's not focus on how things are gonna be a two years from now let's let's just focus on this week and and reward you for doing the right things it is about carrots and -- fixed. Let you know Silicon Valley -- -- there's been a lot of unification. -- has been brought to of the health care industry as well as others and then there's more on the way. I'm I think our insight is exactly what you sort of into to a moment ago which is if you make this silly if you make it to -- if you make it too trivial. -- the not only does it gets stale but it's sort of just reduces the the substance of all of this and I think what we've tried to do strike this careful balance of of taking a lot of this data first of all translating it into metrics that everyday people understand calories burned and activity and sleep as opposed to was my GSR sensors say. And then and then secondly use that data to actually give you meaningful useful insights regularly and this isn't meant to be deep dive into your data on a regular basis it's meant to be a 32 two minute interaction it gives you a sense of where you are. On your wellness -- -- keeps you coming back -- regularly because. You know when it's that when we're talking about wellness it's really sustained behavior is absolutely critical it's not a nice to have you can't be well losses sustained behavior -- that it that long term engagements. Now when you show one of the things that I cracked wise about about weaker product was one of the aspects of the web version or or -- -- -- is a social component. -- back help. And the obvious joke -- the last thing wanted to use join a social net for the people who are -- in the neck -- But I I I do want to talk about the important component the important social group. Feedback component of of getting better I mean I always thought of you know getting healthy as a very solitary XP. It's. You know that's not what our research has shown -- all particularly people and back pain many of them feel quite isolated. And to have access to other people who are going through the same -- and have tried different things may get worked for them. -- -- user studies aren't people would actually invite that aspect. One of our co founders has back pain and -- was an inspiration for us building managed. And when He meet somebody else with back -- make -- top for an hour just talking about in different ways that they can help each other. Different -- to sleep and think that they've learned and different products so. People are hungry -- to connect. -- of of the influence model will now be the -- of your technology came out -- -- people can out of Stanford is that right that's an optical founders as Eric and sit there is either -- years you of those things BJ -- And He wasn't. When I talked to are working on a study what -- kept ecology. Aren't they get capped at the end it's like yes -- this technology -- -- yes it's the study of influencing people to do the right thing. Are there any special tricks any tweaks maybe non obvious and either your products that are being used to kind of make people -- Yet there's -- core design principles that came out of beating on -- about baby steps. Again making it easy and can you're not gonna and do the steep dive overnight and you're gonna go from -- unhealthy to healthy from -- at posturing that posture. What are those little baby steps that you can help people do and how can you make it friction months so that they don't have to. Dramatically change their -- how can you sort of integrating into their existing -- -- -- the carrots vs the stick. And so it's these if those kinds of ads designed pencils that we actually -- learn from BJ -- content that we are integrating into the development and design of our product. -- outset a couple of things I I couldn't agree more. I think 01 of the things. It is important -- is making his automatic pass it is possible not -- user entry -- -- manuals user effort to try to get this data and and into the system to Begin with and then and then translate it. -- I think another one is this big is this baby steps in in our case one of than the major insights we -- -- talking with consumers is turning this long term activity into a weekly event. And and one of the things that does psychologically is you know we all have bad weeks we -- we -- we're traveling we don't have enough time to either sleep as well as we should or do as much as much exercise we should and the more those bad weeks stack up the more behind you feel. But if you turn this whole event into a weekly exercise -- weekly event to weekly gain if you like with with words around that game. Then when you have a bad week that does not need to start over next week you always have this fresh start it's right around the corner and for -- speaking personally that was highly -- That those those those bad days of bad weeks -- have they don't stack up because you're constantly starting over with a fresh start and on got to do this week is is this much and and for me that was. Very very motivating motivating it removes all the baggage around -- bad. Now you're measuring posture -- your measuring certain. Parameters of of how our bodies moving in and reacting but there's a lot more that goes into health and one of the big ones his nutrition. So what. He if you guys are aware are there are developments that the things that can help us actually eat better -- whether it's. I don't know -- -- cars and grocery stores or some way for some device when I'm about to put you know a reason that my mouth the same brief stop that you don't need it you're just -- I mean where those devices. -- There's a couple that I'm aware of there's money can take pictures of what you're about to. And there's another -- it's coming out where it's a little she she put in your ear. And it measures your how -- -- -- and so it can help you maintain -- volume control. That's. Freaky but interest. Actually of the quality picture I can tell you how much you're -- I think you've hit on exactly the thing when it comes to intake. There are very few ways to solve this that don't require a lot of manual. Intervention or manual input and and our experiences the more manual things are -- -- the -- is going to be you get very engaged for a few days. That said there's there's lots and lots of systems out there that you there's there's very very specific diet programs that are free what you could -- have to actually follow them. There are apps that help you track what you've -- though many of them requirement wouldn't let. No doubt nutrition is correct but no doubt we'll continue to express choices they can take. Can you -- with you with can you tell with your sensors when I'm actually eating. You know it. We know we can't tell exactly and when you're eating but we can certainly see the impact on our raid and other things after you've after you've eaten -- you know obviously when you when you consume alcohol as an example apparently hear your heart -- so we can see impacts. On your body -- -- -- It to stop you from snacking and I think I'd be better. Aren't so what's -- nexis. Jobs 2012 women between knowing it only in the middle okay. So the product is now in some may be unfair to ask you -- what's next to you is it's an interesting idea to it to work on a company that does. Adhesive. Very low profile sensors. Are there other things that you're going to be doing. For sure I mean we love this space. What we see -- -- sense that there -- solutions like remote back even basis. Our body we're now wearing code and we can extend the power of computing you know from our phones. -- from our computers to our own bodies as a platform for innovation. And suppress that means you know there's other aspects of -- mechanics. The you know that are so relevant to how you move and how -- how you get injuries or how you can avoid injuries or heal from injuries. Be stronger and -- at -- -- move. Dynamics of where our limbs are in our bodies our -- shake -- any moment to move beyond just stick on sensors to clothing that has embedded sensors and it. Absolutely or you know who's gonna win that battle the mormons. Because they think -- undergarments. They are all set out to be wired. We're gonna put them on -- -- -- Perfect test group chart are you working out some kind of clothing embedded technologies as well exactly okay and Jeff all of you make UN basis -- tell -- what. When the products going to be out in in the. It's -- it. It'll be -- by the end of this year. -- in terms of what's coming next. I guess we'll speak serve narrowly about us for a moment and then maybe -- broadly them anymore. You -- with the sensors that were already. Including in the initial product did it captures lot of physiological data pretty high resolution we're capturing beat to beat -- for your heart rate as an example and and that data can be. With different algorithms running I can tell you all kinds of things we'll take more lab work we'll take more R&D but that amount of data can really be thankful. About the body and so I think. Because we have a device that's connected to a service -- in view it with new features over time there are more and more deep and sophisticated. And but I think more broadly I think that what what's next is is to build platforms of this of this data and allow them to be opened so that you can get. Data from -- -- device but other devices complementary devices devices like scales as an example the track data that we don't. Or apps that are tracking data and hopefully that that we are not. I'm so I think is really about opening up -- system that allows multiple inputs in its complementary. It makes that data even more rich so that we can be more insightful to the user and and maybe even export that data to your favorite app if you want your run keeper -- to be you know Richard -- and then just around. I'm I think that's -- goes I think it's getting all of this stuff these these devices and services in the apps to cooperate with each other feeding. At -- giant database that's that your personal physiological warehouse. Now to be clear the little -- product. Is. Kind of -- to a Smartphone application that'll that'll show you there when your. -- current first street and and and be the social network via the basis product is that the standalone wrist. Thing that communicates -- -- fires or Smartphone component as well how important is the -- -- this I think mobile is very very important to wellness and generally you want wellness and the insights that come from a to -- -- real time as possible He wanted to be as close to your activities and value of your life as possible that's said and the data has to get to the cloud where a lot of the really heavy processing is done for power management reasons and other things in the nation. Suggested as well. So the way our device works when we launch that'll connect to the cloud in two ways and Bluetooth and -- you be able to connect wirelessly if you wanna also had USB units if you -- -- simply plug it in and charging an -- upload your data at the same time. I can be -- that simply -- for me. And artists everybody knows I mean obviously there. There are way -- their -- -- many more than two entrepreneurs in the space problem. Jawbone which makes headsets is coming up with -- up which is today a wrist and I think is only measures -- movement nothing -- dollars as far as I know. You mention some other products from major sports equipment companies that are interest thing and Nike plus. I think is one that many many people will will know -- it it is also -- -- it's used by runners typically comes -- connected to an app that gives you kind of a dashboard of what -- runs are it's very very specifically fitness in that same category there are devices like Catholic polar Garmin that require you -- chest -- to measure your heart rate but it does give you. A very sort of -- performance sports optimize. Parker experience doesn't capture more than that's not really connected to service that analyze your health the way we do but it's it's out there there are many many devices out there. The media consumers don't think of as you know sort of digital health and wellness tools in the way that we're talking about it today but there are many devices out there that that are that are selling by the millions and there are consumers out there -- really are looking for tools and so I think our job -- to figure out how to make them. Easier to where all the time so we collect more data and more insightful more useful practical. Well thanks very much now just -- clear. Joyful as a seal of basis and where can people go to get learn more about that they can come to you W going to be gotten my basis dot com okay and that's. To keep updated when the products from -- mountain where to buy it they can even they can even reserve want to make sure -- in line. Interest and it looks really cool -- may have to give my tech watch and -- -- our cache of low backward people go to get more. It can meet the minimum back and Ask.com. And apparently are recruiting. Beta testers. Now. Two when asked if you have as my mother would say if you have a back. Because my in my family of a pain in his assumed. If you have a back go -- -- back in and check it out. -- thank you so much for coming in Jeff thanks for the time. Thanks everyone for watching reporters' roundtable we back again next week with another great show thanks -- for producing go through reporters' roundtable on CNET just. But the Oreo what can never remember. I I don't know. -- that -- reporters' roundtable legal and you'll find it and and I have links of these companies and other cool stuff in the show notes and other get the whole info thanks slot by.

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