Software, hardware, everywhere

Software and hardware are moving together, and the combined result is a new medium.

Real and virtual are crashing together. On one side is hardware that acts like software: IP-addressable, controllable with JavaScript APIs, able to be stitched into loosely-coupled systems—the mashups of a new era. On the other is software that’s newly capable of dealing with the complex subtleties of the physical world—ingesting huge amounts of data, learning from it, and making decisions in real time.

The result is an entirely new medium that’s just beginning to emerge. We can see it in Ars Electronica Futurelab’s Spaxels, which use drones to render a three-dimensional pixel field; inBaxter, which layers emotive software onto an industrial robot so that anyone can operate it safely and efficiently; in OpenXC, which gives even hobbyist-level programmers access to the software in their cars; in SmartThings, which ties Web services to light switches.

The new medium is something broader than terms like “Internet of Things,” “Industrial Internet,” or “connected devices” suggest. It’s an entirely new discipline that’s being built by software developers, roboticists, manufacturers, hardware engineers, artists, and designers.

Read more…

Comment |

Ginger.io: Putting the Patient-Provider connection at the center

A tool for outreach to patients produces unexpected benefits

This posting was written by guest author Julia Bernstein of Ginger.io. Ginger.io’s CEO Anmol Madan will be speaking on this topic at Strata Rx.

The traditional, office-based model for health care is episodic. The provider-patient relationship exists almost completely within the walls of the exam room, with little or no follow-up between visits. Data is primarily episodic as well, based on blood pressure reading done at a specific time or surveys administered there and then, with little collected out of the office. And even the existing data collection tools—paper diaries or clunky meters—are focused more on storing data that on connecting the patient and provider through that data in real time.

There is no way to get in touch when, for instance, a patient’s blood sugar starts varying wildly or pain levels change. The provider often depends on the patient reaching out to them. And even when a provider does put into place an outreach protocol, it is usually very crude, based on a general approach to managing a population as opposed to an understanding of a patient. The end result is a system that, while doing its best within a difficult setting, is by default reactive instead of proactive.

Read more…

Comment |

The Role of Big Data in Personalizing the Healthcare Experience: Mobile

Sensors, games, and social networking all create change in health and fitness

This article was written with Ellen M. Martin and Tobi Skotnes. Dr. Feldman will deliver a webinar on this topic on September 18 and will speak about it at the Strata Rx conference.

Cheaper, faster, better technology is enabling nearly one in four people around the world to connect with each other anytime, anywhere, as online social networks have changed the way we live, work and play. In healthcare, the data generated by mobile phones and sensors can give us new information about ourselves, extend the reach of our healers and help to accelerate a societal shift towards greater personal engagement in healthcare.

Read more…

Comment |

What journalists can learn from gamers, using ‘citizen sensors’, and best hits of a data pioneer

As the field grows, and the demands for “data journalists” proliferate, journalists find themselves walking a fine line between embracing technology’s potential in the field, and never losing sight of the crucial role of the journalist — which has traditionally been focused on helping people acquire the tools to make sense of information. This week’s links include stories about how journalists and storytellers are adapting the profession for success in this new world of information, where the data tells the story.

Journalism and Technology

  • What News Nerds Can Learn from Game Nerds, Day One (The ProPublica Nerd Blog)
    In journalism, we’ve heard over and over again that mobile is the future. So what kind of storytelling can we do to take advantage of the fact that if they’re on their smartphone we know our readers’ physical location, and that with the right inspiration, they are willing to move great distances? What if on election day, we could help voters find their most convenient polling locations?
  • The danger of journalism that moves too quickly beyond fact (Poynter)
    The best thinking about journalism’s future benefits from its being in touch with technology’s potential. But it can get in its own way when it simplifies and repudiates the intelligence of journalism’s past. Machines bring the capacity to count. Citizens bring expertise, experience and an expanded capacity to observe events from more vantage points. Journalists bring access, the ability to interrogate people in power, to dig, to translate and triangulate incoming information, and a traditional discipline of an open-minded pursuit of truth. They work best in concert.
  • A pioneer retraces the data trail (The Age)
    Author Simon Rogers founded the Datablog in early 2009 and oversaw it until May 2013 when he became Data Editor at Twitter. This book is a “best hits” compilation, a primer for data journalists and a compendium of weird and wonderful facts.

Read more…

Comment |

Strata Week: Can your passwords stand up to a cracker?

Password (in)security, sensors and ant-sized computers, and big data skeptics are called out.

Companies, developers need to do more to increase password security

Google urged users this week to take more care in creating passwords. In a post on the Google Blog, Google Software Engineer Diana Smetters offered some guidelines, including using a different password for each online account, keeping them in a safe place, creating a recovery option and making them hard to guess. Smetters suggests using a mix of letters and numbers and avoiding basing passwords on common phrases.

Though industry experts generally applauded Google’s efforts to increase consumer awareness, most agreed the company could do more. Seth Rosenblatt reports at CNET that industry experts Alex Salazar and Mary Landesman feel Google should be pressuring developers and companies to improve their security practices.

Landesman noted, for instance, that using spaces in passwords makes them stronger, but most sites don’t let you do that. Salazar outlined three steps Google could take to make the web safer for consumers: pressure companies to require consumers to choose passwords that are easy to remember but hard to break; be a stronger two-factor authentication advocate; and to publish guidelines for developers — and to do a better job of stressing the importance of protecting your customers. Landesman pointed out that often, blame for password breaches is misplaced on users. “[Password security] is tilted against the user,” she said.

Read more…

Comment |

Strata Week: Data brokers know more about us than we know

Data brokers, workplace sensor studies, unreported drug side effects revealed in search data, and the dark side of big data.

The lowdown on data brokers, and the use of sensor data in the workplace

ProPublica’s Lois Beckett takes a look this week at data brokers. She says that though Congress is making moves to make such companies give consumers more control over their data and what happens to it, many people not only don’t know these data brokers exist, but they also don’t know the extent of the data gathered and how it’s used.

Read more…

Comment |

Driven to distraction: How Veterans Affairs uses monitoring technology to help returning veterans

Fujitsu provides the Sprout device to collect and analyze sensor data in real time

Veterans Affairs is collaborating with Fujitsu on a complex and interesting use of sensor data to help rehabilitate veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I recently talked about this initiative with Dr. Steven Woodward, Principal Investigator of the study at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, and with Dr. Ajay Chander, Senior Researcher in Data Driven Health Care at Fujitsu Laboratories of America (FLA).

The study is focused on evaluating strategies for driving rehabilitation. During deployments, veterans adapt their driving behavior to survive in dangerous war zones that are laced with combat fire, ambushes, and the threat of improvised explosive devices. Among veterans suffering from PTSD, these behaviors are hard to unlearn upon their return from such deployments. For example, some veterans veer instinctively into the middle of the road, reacting to deep-seated fears of improvised explosive devices. Others refuse to stop at stop signs for fear of attack. Other risky behaviors range from road rage to scanning the sides of the road instead of focusing on the road ahead. At-fault accident rates are significantly higher for veterans upon return from a deployment than before it.

The VA’s research objective is to understand the triggers for PTSD and discover remedies that will enable veterans to return to normal life. For the study, the VA instrumented a car as well as its veteran driver with a variety of sensors that collect data on how the car is being driven and the driver’s physiology while driving it. These sensors included wireless accelerometers on the brake and accelerator pedals and on the steering wheel, a GPS system, and an EKG monitor placed on the driver and wired to an in-car laptop for real-time viewing of cardiological signals, as well as manual recording of the driver’s state and environmental cues by an in-car psychotherapist. With such a system, the VA’s goal was to record and analyze driving trails of veterans and assess the efficacy of driving rehabilitation techniques.

As Dr. Woodward explained, the VA had been assessing veterans’ driving habits for quite a while before getting introduced to Fujitsu’s real-time monitoring technology. ASsessments had been a significant challenge for multiple reasons. On the data collection and visualization front, the disparate sensors, the laptop, and the power supplies added up to a significant in-car IT footprint. More importantly, since all sensor systems were manufactured by different vendors and didn’t share data with each other, the data streams were not synchronized. This made it difficult for the VA researchers to get an accurate understanding of how the driver’s physiology coupled with the car’s drive and location data. Read more…

Comment |

Sensor-laden glove brings medical examination to the masses

How a sensor glove can benefit the patient-doctor relationship.

Recently a group of three young entrepreneurs showed off a prototype of a glove that contained sensors useful for medical examinations. Their goals were not merely to make diagnosis easier, but to save the doctor/patient relationship from the alienation of modern technology. Medical student Andrew Bishara came into O’Reilly’s Cambridge studio to discuss the glove’s capabilities, how the creators were inspired to design it, and how they plan to productize it.

Here’s the full video from our discussion:

Highlights from the conversation include:

  • Introduction to the glove and its purpose in bringing touch back into medicine. [Discussed at the 0:31 mark]
  • Some of the purposes of the sensors. [Discussed at the 2:00 mark]
  • Software on the device and in the cloud. [Discussed at the 7:58 mark]
  • Creating a marketable product from the glove. [Discussed at the 9:54 mark]
  • Open hardware. [Discussed at the 13:39 mark]
  • How the developers were inspired by Singularity University. [Discussed at the 15:03 mark]

Read more…

Comment |
The Reading Glove engages senses and objects to tell a story

The Reading Glove engages senses and objects to tell a story

Karen Tanenbaum uses wearable tech and sensors to explore the boundaries of storytelling.

What if you mashed up a non-linear narrative, a tangible computing environment and a hint of a haunted house experience? You might get the Reading Glove, a novel way to experience a story.

Comment |

Visualization of the Week: AntiMap

A mobile mapping app lets users capture and visualize their movements.

The DIY mapping tool AntiMap lets users capture their movements via their mobile devices, then visualize and analyze their movements.

Comment: 1 |