Body: Your doctor is a chip
by Stacey Higginbotham
“Put down the fried chicken!”
Today, my smartphone doesn’t watch what I eat, but in the future, it might. And Siri, the iPhone’s personal assistant, might not just answer my spoken request for fast food places with local recommendations, but could actively monitor my food intake, physical activity and let me know what to eat in order to maintain my weight. The tools are already there, and we’re just waiting for services that bring them all together.
In the above scenario, an app like MealSnap, which allows people to take pictures of their food and get back a rough calorie estimate, could connect with a Nike+ app on the handset or a bodybugg that connects data about my daily physical activity and calories burned to the web. These services can crunch the math and tell me to put down my KFC, or more likely just let me know that if I eat that drumstick I’ll be 400 calories over my limit for the day.
Already plenty of die-hard fitness fanatics use tools like the bodybugg to track their activities and manage their weight in conjunction with a variety of web-based services. Integrating the hardware into mobile phones isn’t hard, just take a look at Motorola’s new ACTV service and the connection Apple has with Nike+.
For most, connected bodies will begin in the health and fitness arena, thanks in part to the prevalence of mobile phones and apps that take advantage of that hardware platform. A medical app store called Happtique notes that there are 23,000 health related apps on the iOS and Android platforms alone. However, the more exciting services will arise on the healthcare side.
Applications such as connected insulin monitors, pacemakers and even ultrasound scanners exist today for specialized use. And as wireless networks evolve, and people figure out business models and standards around connected health, more applications for physicians and remote monitoring will arrive. The Food and Drug Administration is currently evaluating the standards by which it will assess the quality and safety of mobile applications.
So from diets to diabetes, connected devices will help you manage your health and create a digital doctor at your finger tips.