Tag Archives: Health

A Sight for Sore Eyes – Technology and Eye Health

How many hours of the day do you spend in front of an LED display? Six, seven hours or maybe even longer? It will come as no surprise that our time spent in front of digital devices is increasing but does this come at a cost? In recent times, publicity surrounding the harmful effects of blue light exposure has been rising with emphatic warning cries from some medical professionals, notably opticians. It seems the technology industry is now taking notice, with a growing number of new displays containing low- or anti-blue light technology flooding the market.

Most LED display devices, including phones, tablets, laptops, monitors and TVs, project blue light. Blue light exposure at night suppresses the production of melatonin – a hormone that regulates sleep patterns – which leads to problems such as insomnia. Eye doctors have also expressed concerns about longer-term effects: the high levels of blue light people of all ages are being exposed to could eventually lead to macular degeneration.

Technological solutions that promote health have been in the industry’s peripheral vision for quite some time. According to our figures, an expanding share of monitor manufacturers’ portfolios is now given over to explaining how their eye-care technology targets harmful blue light. How quickly this phenomenon will spread to the rest of the market may depend on how much noise the medical field makes and if further regulation takes place. At present, the typical consumer may not be acutely aware of the inherent dangers of blue light and so may not take them into consideration when choosing a device.

Flickering screens – a major problem with CRT monitors in days of old – are also an issue as they can contribute significantly to eyestrain. LCD screens flicker because of the way the backlight is controlled and using what is known as pulse-width modulation (PWM) – essentially, the backlight is pulsed on and off to modulate brightness. To remedy this, manufacturers have been rolling out monitors with flicker-free technology.

Other technologies are being used to improve our overall health and well-being, so it is only fitting that a piece of the puzzle that was having the opposite effect is now catching up. Encouraged by innovation and a more educated public, manufacturers are ensuring that technology, which doesn’t harm our eyes, is now becoming more accessible.

by LW

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Filed under Displays, Mobile technology, Smart Technology

Wellness is Wearables

by Theo Gibbons

Following our previous posts, which pitted Microsoft’s Band against Apple’s Watch, we turn this week to the theme of wearables and wellbeing. ‘Wellness’ was once a straightforward matter of kale concoctions, Pilates posturing, and Whole Foods foraging. No longer. Wellness is wearables. Wellness is big data.

Why? Well, amongst much uncertainty as to what, exactly, wearables have to offer, wellbeing and health have emerged as key value propositions.

The pitch goes something like this: ubiquitous wearable sensors are set to revolutionise healthcare by providing real-time, ongoing, and personalised data points; health professionals will be able to gain a complete picture outside of clinical settings and adjust treatment plans accordingly; individuals will be able to acquire new perspectives on their relevant behavioural patterns (think diabetics learning about how their dietary habits affect their blood glucose levels).

Indeed, Microsoft argues that its Band’s real value is realised through Health, a “cloud-based service that helps you live healthier by providing actionable insights”, drawing in information from “a variety of devices and services to give you insights into your entire day across nutrition, work, fitness and rest.” And it’s already a crowded market. Several tech companies are vying to develop the health tracking ecosystem of choice: Google Fit, Jawbone UP, and of course, Apple HealthKit all propose to bring together data from your favourite apps and hardware.

Wearables are growing up, graduating from glorified pedometers to bonafide health tracking devices. As Fitbit’s CEO, James Park puts it: “there’ll be a next big leap in benefits once we tie into more detailed clinical research and cross the hurdles and dialogue with the FDA about what we can do for consumers and what’s regulated or not.” Apple’s ResearchKit is already on the way to achieving just that. An open source framework that aims to bring iPhone owners and medical researchers together, it pushes the scope of wearables into new territory. Indeed, several big-name medical studies are already under way, establishing Apple’s sensors as research grade.

Success in this field would bring huge rewards, enabling tech companies to tap into a multi-billion health market (some $6.3 billion are spent each year on blood glucose test strips in the US alone). What’s more, the chronically ill make for a loyal customer base. It isn’t like they can just decide to drop their wearables on a whim. And even for the healthy, unifying ecosystems such as the Apple HealthKit inaugurate a new era of intimacy and dependency, capturing ever more of our bio-digital identities.

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Filed under Big data, Mobile technology, Smart Technology, Wearables