If you want a peek at the future of health and fitness, look no further than the internet’s biggest crowdfunding sites. Every few weeks, a startup seems to be pitching a new gadget or service for tracking your activity, monitoring your mental state or even analyzing the bacteria that make up your microbiome.
In the past few months, health-related crowdfunded projects have gotten even more attention thanks to a record-breaking campaign and new kinds of sensor-based devices. If you’re into the intersection of medicine and technology, here are five crowdfunding campaigns worth watching right now.
The clock is ticking on this one, but if you want to be among the first to get a Star Trek-like tricorder you still have about 40 hours left. In May, we reported that the Indiegogo campaign for the Scanadu Scout, which can determine an individual’s vital signs from a simple forehead scan, had set a new record for the fastest funding velocity on the platform – the campaign reached its goal of $100,000 in two hours and then doubled the goal within five hours. But it’s gone on to become Indiegogo’s most-funded campaign ever, raising more than $1.5 million. By just holding the hockey puck-shaped device to a person’s head, the Scout can determine her heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, respiratory rate and oxygen levels in the blood, and then send the information to an iOS or Android smartphone via Bluetooth.
All of the biggest tech companies are expected to come out with some sort of smart watch soon – driving smartwatch shipments to 5 million next year. But there are little guys doing some cool things too. Like the Pebble watch (another crowdfunding sensation) and the rumored iWatch, Kreyos says its Meteor watch enables users to receive notifications about email, social media and other alerts. But on its Indiegogo page, it claims users can answer and initiate phone calls, respond to text messages, change music and do plenty of other tasks, with their voice or via gesture. It also doubles as an activity tracker by monitoring all kinds of data, including distance traveled, maximum and average heart rates and calories burned, and then helping to analyze performance.
Get ready for a future in which your socks tell you it’s time to get off the couch. Heapsylon is one of the companies leading a new wave of smart, sensor-enabled clothing and its Sensoria Smart Sock Fitness Tracker is its flagship product. Sensors in the sock (which can be washed and dried, by the way) and its accompanying anklet gather data on how many steps a person takes, the length of her stride and how her foot hits the ground when she runs. It could be especially helpful for runners. But as the company told my colleague Stacey Higginbotham, it could eventually target golfers and other sports enthusiasts and athletes, as well as license its fabric technology and data for other users.
A nicotine patch-sized sticker claims it can make people “invisible” to mosquitoes by blocking their ability to detect carbon dioxide, which is the main way they identify their victims. And since its launch on Indiegogo three days ago, it’s raised nearly $20,000. The tiny patch could provide relief to anyone, anywhere who finds that she’s often mosquitoes’ meal-time target (like me). But one of its biggest impacts could be realized in the developing world, where malaria is a leading cause of death and disease.
Mothers-to-be don’t need to wait for their babies’ first kicks anymore to get a sense of what’s going on in their bellies day to day. Thanks to new portable ultrasound devices, called dopplers, that can detect fetal heartbeats, they now have a new window on to their babies’ developments. BabyWatch, a home doppler that says it’s received a certificate from the FDA, isn’t the first device of its kind. But it’s among the first to try to consumerize the technology with a simple, friendly design and a corresponding mobile app that let’s users visualize the heart rate, track the data and share it with others. I don’t necessarily endorse these kinds of devices, as they could just lead to more stress for the mother. And doctors have warned against them in the past, saying that they have given mothers false reassurances that have led to delayed medical care. But I do think it’s worth noting because it’s part of a growing trend of sensor-based and digital devices that provide information about infants and young children.