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Smart Watch Announcements – Qualcomm’s Toq and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear

Posted on September 4, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

We posted about the rumored iWatch from Apple a while back, but today Apple was beat to the punch with both Qualcomm and Samsung announcing smart watches today. The smart watch movement could mean a lot for mobile health.

Qualcomm’s smart watch offering is called the Toq and isn’t planned to go on sell until the middle of next month. Plus, Qualcomm calls it a technology demonstration instead of a commercial endeavor. That means they’re looking to partners to carry this torch. Qualcomm isn’t turning into a consumer electronics company. Here’s AllThingsD’s description of the smart watch:

It features several different watch faces, including one that matches the time with upcoming calendar appointments, and another that displays both time and weather information. The Toq can also control the phone’s music player, as well as display text messages and send one of several preset replies. Clearly designed as a companion to a smartphone, the watch settings are controlled from an app that runs on an Android smartphone.

Watch owners can also get other types of Android notifications that would normally flash on their phone screen. Users can decide which apps’ notifications are shown on the watch. Qualcomm will also make available a developer tool kit that will let interested companies create their own “applets” for the watch.

At the same time, the combination of the Mirasol display and other power-saving features means that the device can be always-on (there’s no on-off switch) and still get several days of use between charges.

I think this is best described as a second screen for your smart phone. Although, it’s a second screen that’s always on thanks to the Qualcomm Mirasol display technology.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch will launch on Sept 25 in more than 140 countries and available worldwide in October. Here’s AllThingsD’s description of the device:

Designed to be a smartphone companion, the Android-based wearable features a stainless steel frame with a 1.63-inch, 320 by 320 pixel touchscreen and rubber straps that come in six different colors, including orange, yellow and white.

For now it appears that the Galaxy Gear is designed to work only with the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition tablet, which were also announced. Once connected via Bluetooth, the watch can alert you to incoming texts and emails. A feature called “Smart Relay” also mirrors what you’re seeing on your smartphone to the watch.

With a built-in mic, you can make and receive phone calls and draft messages, create calendar appointments and more using Samsung’s S Voice command system. The watch’s strap also has an integrated 1.9-megapixel camera. But before you get excited about living out your dream as a spy, the camera makes a shutter noise that can’t be disabled.

That’s a huge problem that the Galaxy Gear only works with the latest Galaxy Note products. I imagine this will change once Samsung is able to push out an update to the Samsung S3 and S4’s. If they can’t do that, then this device is really going to suffer. The battery life on the device is estimated at 25 hours and will launch with more than 70 compatible apps including the RunKeeper app.

The most exciting part of both of these announcements is that we’re just getting started with the Smart Watch technology. I’m not sure how this is going to evolve, but I love the always on feature of a smart watch. I also love the idea of it being a second screen. Plus, with an accelerometer on the watch and likely more bio sensors to come, there’s a great opportunity for mobile health apps.

SleepRate: Improves Your Sleep by Monitoring Your Heart

Posted on July 18, 2012 I Written By

Recently, I haven’t been sleeping well.  We all go through times like this where for whatever reason you just don’t sleep well.  You may have trouble falling asleep, the sleep may not be very restful, you may not be getting enough, or you may even be getting too much.  Generally, I have no idea why I am sleeping poorly which is really frustrating because there is not a whole lot I can do about it, other than take some sleeping pills.

With all of the apps and gadgets flooding the market, there are tons of things you can buy now that will monitor your sleep and claim to help you sleep better in some way.  One of these devices takes an interesting approach at improving your sleep: it monitors your heart.

SleepRate is a cloud based mobile service that allows customers to monitor their sleep using many widely available heart-rate monitors.  Using the ECG that these monitors can detect, SleepRate can analyze your sleeping patterns, and help suggest solutions to improve your sleep.

I love that the system is “device agnostic” as they like to refer to it.  You are not tied to their one offering that may not fit your exact needs.  They simply provide a service using devices that many people already have, and their compatibility list for both iOS and Android devices is growing everyday.  They just recently announced compatibility with Zephyr, RunKeeper, Wearlink, and Wahoo ANT+.

Sleep is one of the most essential parts of our lifestyle, and it is really no surprise that your heart could provide vital information to how well you are sleeping.  Now with the SleepRate system you can have access to that information to improve the way you sleep, and help improve your overall health.

The “Smart EMR” Differentiator

Posted on October 25, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

As I’ve been able to talk to more and more EMR companies I’ve been trying to figure out a way to differentiate the various EHR software. In fact, when I meet with EHR software companies I suggest that instead of them showing me a full demo of their EHR software, I ask them to show me the feature(s) that set their EHR apart from the other 300+ EHR companies out there. I must admit that it’s always interesting to see what they show me. Sometimes because what they show me isn’t that interesting or different. Many of my EMR company specific posts come from these experiences.

Today at MGMA as I went from one EHR company to another I started to get an idea for what might be the future differentiation between EHR companies. I’m calling it: “Smart EMR.”

You can be sure that I’ll be writing about my thoughts on Smart EMR software many more times in the future. However, the basic idea is that far too many EHR software are just basic translations from paper to electronic. Sure, some of them do a pretty good job of capturing the data in granular data elements (something not possible on paper), but that’s far from my idea of what a future Smart EMR software will need to accomplish.

I’m sure that many of those that are reading this post immediately started to think about the idea of clinical decision support. Certainly clinical decision support will be one important element of a Smart EMR, but I think that’s barely even the beginning of how a Smart EMR will need to work in the future. However, clinical decision support as it’s been described to date focuses far too much on how a clinician’s discretely entered data elements can support the care they provide. That’s far too narrow of a view of how an EMR will improve the patient-doctor interaction.

Without going into all the detail, EHR software is going to have to learn to accept and process a number of interesting and external data sources. One example could be all the data that a patient has in the PHR. Another could be patient data that was collected using personal various medical devices like a blood pressure cuff, an EKG, and blood glucose meters. Not to mention more consumer centric data devices and apps such as RunKeeper, Fitbit, sleep tracking, mood tracking, etc etc etc.

Another example of an external source could be access to some community health data repository. Why shouldn’t community trends in healthcare be part of the patient care process? None of this is far reaching since we’re collecting this data today and it will become more and more mainstream over time. Something we can’t do today, but likely will in the future is things like genomics. Imagine how personalized healthcare will change when an EHR will need to know and be able to process your genome in order to provide proper care.

I don’t claim to know all the sources, but I think that gives you a flavor of what a Smart EMR will have to process in the future. I’ll be interested to see which EHR software companies see this change and are able to execute on it. Many of the current innovations in EHR have been pretty academic. The Smart EMR I describe above will be much more complicated and require some specific skills and resources to do it right.