Blood Glucose Meters: Monitoring Diabetes on Your Phone

iBGStar Glucose MeterLiving with Diabetes requires frequent monitoring of blood glucose (blood sugar), an essential measure of your health. The American Diabetes Association can help you better understand Diabetes, select from the latest tools, learn how to manage your blood glucose levels, and prevent serious complications. We provide a guide to help you select a blood glucose meter, many of which are available at local drug stores, but today’s article is inspired by one that’s not listed and you may not have seen yet.

iBGStar blood glucose monitor

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Smart Car Features for Older Drivers

Nearly Nine in 10 Seniors Drive a Car that Doesn’t Fit their Aging Needs

AAA research helps “silver tsunami” match vehicle features to health concerns

Click to read about the future of driverless cars.

This photo by Henry Fountain pictures one of Google’s fleet of self-driving vehicles. The Lexus hybrid has a range-finder on top but otherwise looks reasonably conventional. We may eventually be able to buy cars that drive themselves (see comment below), and three states already license experimental models for operation on public roads, but until they’re commercially available, AAA offers advice on selecting car features for older drivers.

Washington, D.C., (Dec. 3, 2012) – With nearly 90 percent of motorists 65 and older suffering from health issues that affect driving safety, finding a car that not only adapts to conditions, such as lack of flexibility or muscle strength, while maintaining safety and comfort can be difficult. Data from a new AAA survey also reveals that only one in 10 senior drivers with aging health issues are driving a vehicle that has features like keyless entry and larger dashboard controls that can assist with such conditions.

To better equip the “silver tsunami” for driving safety and comfort, AAA has updated its Smart Features for Older Drivers resource to address a broader range of health conditions and include new data on 2012 vehicle features. As a leading advocate for senior driver safety, AAA launched Smart Features for Older Drivers in partnership with the University of Florida’s Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation in 2008. In the update, Smart Features identifies vehicle features that optimize older driver safety and comfort, lists current vehicles with those features, and allows users to explore their individual needs through an interactive online tool.  Read More …

Accessibility and Assistive Technology

In March I spent several days at the SXSW trade show promoting accessible web design in the Knowbility booth and gained new perspectives about building websites for accessibility and my own site, Modern Health Talk. While I’ve written many articles here about universal design and products built for various disabilities, actually using that advice myself is a different matter, so it was enlightening to hear how a blind person navigates this site with a screen reader that speaks the written words. I also learned to include text descriptions of photos and images, but sometimes there’s so much content that doing so is difficult, such as with an infographic. And I learned that watching movies & videos can be a challenge for the blind, especially when there’s no dialog. That’s why I was happy to learn that Regal Entertainment Group announced that it’s starting to support special goggles for vision or hearing impaired patrons to they can see captioning that doesn’t display on the big screen or hear video descriptions of scenes with no voice.

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Universal Design Makes Home Accessible

Houzz Tour, by rom architecture studioThis Houzz home tour is about beautiful design that also addresses the mobility needs of all the family members — two of whom are wheelchair users. It offers more space for wheelchairs, easier access to appliances and a curbless shower that fits this Seattle family’s needs.

Karen Braitmayer and her husband needed more square footage and were resigned to building a second story before connecting with an architect who understood structural modifications and was able to provide more livability and accessibility in the same 1,830 sq.ft. footprint. The architect knew that “Adding a second story would have ruined the architectural character of the home and required multiple elevator trips a day.”

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Regal extends Universal Access to Moviegoers

Regal's assistive technology for moviegoers

Regal Entertainment Group & Sony make moviegoing accessible to all with advanced technology. (Photo: Regal Entertainment Group)

I’ve written many articles here about Universal Design principals in communities, homes and products, and now I’m thrilled to say that moviegoers who are deaf, hard of hearing, have low vision or are blind can now experience movies at neighborhood theaters. Regal Entertainment Group announced that 200 theaters nationwide will offer the Sony Entertainment Access System.

The system includes specially designed and lightweight eyewear for guests who are deaf or hard of hearing so they can privately view closed captioned text for both 2D and 3D movies. Patrons who have low vision or those who are blind can use this assistive technology with headphones or neck loops to hear descriptive audio tracks. Captions and descriptive audio can only be accessed by this equipment and is not visible or audible to other moviegoers.

The system is available at the Guest Services counter or from any theater manager. To select films offering this service, look for online showtimes noting: “Accessibility Devices Available.”

 

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AT&T blocks FaceTime, impacts the Deaf

AT&T blocks FaceTime, and sign language for the deaf and hard of hearingBy Brendan Gramer, in Wired Magazine

When I learned that Apple would finally be enabling the iPhone’s FaceTime app to work over mobile connections, I was ecstatic. As someone who is deaf, I could now use this one-touch, always-on video chat app to communicate with friends and family in my natural language: American Sign Language (ASL).

But then I found out that AT&T will block mobile FaceTime unless customers sign up for an expensive unlimited voice plan. I wasn’t thrilled with the thought of having to pay this AT&T “deaf tax” just to use the mobile data I’m already paying for.

It’s disappointing that AT&T is standing in the way of innovation that addresses the needs of its deaf and hard-of-hearing customers. Sometimes it takes a while (and some prodding) for technology and technology companies to catch up to and embrace accessibility. In this case the technology is there, but it’s AT&T that’s throwing up the barrier.

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Automation, Robots and The Pink Collar Future

Editor’s note: Last night I participated in “I am Robot. Hear me roar,” an online discussion hosted by HuffPost Live and using Google+ Hangouts to support several people connected via webcam. The discussion questioned how automation can make human workers obsolete. Will robots make your own job as a caretaker obsolete? I was asked to participate because of my interest in tech futures that include Healthcare Robots. Jamais Cascio also participated and offered some quite interesting insights. He shared the following article with the audience and gave me permission to republish it here.

Different perspectives: Following the article are two videos.
First is a PBS report that looks at robots and automation as replacing human workers. It’s what many Democrats worry about, and many unemployed workers complain about.
Second is a heart-warming movie trailer from Robot and Frank, which opens in theaters this month and gives a rosier view of technology that’s more like a friendly assistant than a job killer. This optimistic view is similar to the picture Republicans paint, but with no worry about those left behind and unemployed.
So which is it? Just as futurists consider different scenarios and what may lead to their preferred version of the future, you too can decide which version you like and either help make it happen for yourself, or prevent it from happening to others. As you think about this, realize that technology won’t slow down, but its impact on society can be controlled with smart policy decisions. Add your own perspectives below.

Robot Images

The Pink Collar Future

By Jamais Cascio, futurist, writer, speaker and founder of Open The Future

The claim that robots are taking our jobs has become so commonplace of late that it’s a bit of a cliché. Nonetheless, it has a strong element of truth to it. Not only are machines taking “blue collar” factory jobs — a process that’s been underway for years, and no longer much of a surprise except when a company like Foxconn announces it’s going to bring in a million robots (which are less likely to commit suicide, apparently) — but now mechanized/digital systems are quickly working their way up the employment value chain. “Grey collar” service workers have been under pressure for awhile, especially those jobs (like travel agent) that involve pattern-matching; now jobs involving the composition of structured reports (such as basic journalism) have digital competition, and Google’s self-driving car portends a future of driverless taxicabs. But even “white collar” jobs, managerial and supervisory in particular, are being threatened — in part due to replacement, and in part due to declining necessity. After all, if the line workers have been replaced by machines, there’s little need for direct human oversight of the kind required by human workers, no? Stories of digital lawyers and surgeons simply accelerate the perception that robots really are taking over the workplace, and online education systems like the Khan Academy demonstrate how readily university-level learning can be conducted without direct human contact.

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Singing in the Shower – More than Accessibility

A great hand-held shower unit hits the right note in any bathroom.

EDITOR: Last September I posted an article about the Universal Design Living Laboratory. Well now the home is finished and its occupants have moved in, so there’s more to write about, including universal bath & kitchen designs and landscaping. You’ll understand later why I so look forward to the article on landscaping.

Singing in the Shower

The shower is something most of us use every day, and it can be a bit challenging when living in a wheelchair. The right handshower can make getting clean an easier and more enjoyable experience.

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Medical students invent app that checks your symptoms

Craig Monsen and David Do show off Symcat

Craig Monsen and David Do show off their diagnostic tool for consumers.

Craig Monsen and David Do are fourth-year medical students at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine students. According to this article, they recently created a smartphone compatible website that uses big data, analytics, and artificial intelligence to analyze your symptoms and help determine the cause.

Using Symcat (symptoms-based, computer-assisted triage), you enter various ailments (fever, rash, cough, swelling etc.) and receive a diagnosis, prioritizing potential causes by likelihood and color-coding them by urgency. As you’ll see in the video demo below, entering and refining the symptoms and medical history is an iterative process, and the results are quite impressive. At some point, if you decide to see a doctor, the system also recommends local practitioners based on their specific specialty and experience.

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How Tech Makes Life Better for Boomers, Seniors

Technology ‘Saved My Life’: Making Life Better for Boomers, Seniors

From improving fitness and aging in place to ending isolation and engaging
more easily with family and friends, technology solutions help baby boomers
and seniors successfully address many of the issues associated with aging.

Orlando Estrada

Orlando Estrada, 77, uses Microsoft HealthVault to manage his health information online at the St. Barnabas Senior Center in Los Angeles.

REDMOND, Wash. – July 9, 2012Milton Greidinger of New York and Concha Watson of Miami, Fla., were in their mid-80s when they first learned to use a personal computer. The experience dramatically changed both their lives, enabling them to reconnect to the world by pushing through the loneliness and isolation that had threatened to engulf them.

“It saved my life,” says Greidinger, a former buyer for Korvette’s department store, in assessing the Virtual Senior Center, a Microsoft public-private partnership that uses technology to link homebound seniors to activities at their local senior center and to provide better access to community services. “Before this project, I was bored to death. I was just waiting for my time to finish. Now, all of a sudden I’m wide awake. I’m alive again.”

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CAPABLE means Home, not Nursing Homes, for Seniors

Source: Newswise (6/26/2012) — Nursing homes do not have to be inevitable destinations for frail older adults. Many—even those with long-term health problems—can remain at home and be independent. All it takes is a little help to change “disability” to “capability”.

A handyman with a few nails to fix a wobbly bannister can make the difference between staying at home and a nursing home stay. Visits from a nurse or occupational therapist can help simplify a bewildering medication regimen or improve the ability to get around the house and neighborhood. Simple, inexpensive steps may change the equation for thousands of seniors, but in reality, services like these are rarely available for many at greatest need—the poorest and sickest older adults receiving Medicare and Medicaid.

CAPABLE, short for “Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders,” and a $4 million Health Care Innovation Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is about to change that reality. Read More …

Medicine Unplugged: Your phone, DNA and data

Medicine Unplugged: Your phone, your DNA, your dataBy Eric J. Topol, M.D. (original article on Huffington Post)

Just as the little mobile wireless devices radically transformed our day-to-day lives, so will such devices have a seismic impact on the future of health care. It’s already taking off at a pace that parallels the explosion of another unanticipated digital force — social networks. Read More …

EyeWriter is an eye-tracking device for drawing & writing

EyeWriterALS Patient Tony “TEMPT ONE” Quan and the EyeWriter Device is an article I found at PatientsLikeMe.com, and I found it inspiring enough to share. Below is an excerpt and three  good videos.

For quadriplegics like Steven Hawking, “an eye gaze system – a type of augmentative speech device that translates eye movements into words – can make it possible to communicate with loved ones when speech is impaired or lost.  The problem?  They’re big and expensive, and in many cases, US health insurers won’t cover them.”

. . .

Animation studio owner Mick Ebeling heard about Tony’s case, “founded the Not Impossible Foundation and enlisted the help of programmers and open source activists in creating a low-cost, open-access writing and drawing device for paralyzed patients.  Despite having no background in ocular recognition, they pulled it off. Named one of the top 50 inventions of 2010 by Time, the brilliantly simple EyeWriter device can be made for less than $50.” Read More …

10 Forecasts for the Future of Healthcare

World Future Society's special report on 20 Forecasts for the Next 25 YearsFORESIGHT may be the single most critical skill for the 21st Century. Knowledge quickly goes out of date, but foresight enables you to anticipate and navigate change, make good decisions, and take action to create a better future.

That’s why I’ve been a member of the Central Texas chapter of the World Future Society for years, where I meet interesting people with widely varied perspectives of the future. It’s also why I participate in so many Linkedin discussion groups on emerging healthcare issues.

The following ten forecasts came from the World Future Society’s special report, Forecasts for the Next 25 Years. It’s a promotional piece to attract new members who then get a subscription to The Futurist magazine.

Forecast #3. Nanotechnology offers hope for restoring eyesight.

Flower-shaped electrodes topped with photodiodes, implanted in blind patients’ eyes, may restore their sight. The “nanoflowers” mimic the geometry of neurons, making them a better medium than traditional computer chips for carrying photodiodes and transmitting the collected light signals to the brain. Read More …

Healthcare Robots – Eldercare in the Hands of Machines

Robots and other assistive technology may be inevitable in aged care moving into the future, but can they replace the human touch? Annie May reports. Reprinted from Aged Care INsite, Apr/May 2011, and expanded greatly since.

Matilda the robot can read emotions

Click image to watch video: “Matilda the robot can read emotions”

Standing at just 40cm tall and looking suspiciously like the latest toy their grandchildren have been dropping hints about for their upcoming birthdays, Matilda the robot doesn’t give the impression that she has much to offer in the way of care for the elderly.

So when placed in front of an aged care resident to talk about her diet, the resident doesn’t have high expectations. But on admitting to having a love of sweets, Matilda is quick to inform her about all the negative health impacts this indulgence can have. Becoming slightly anxious, – whether a result of being lectured by a bright orange robot or at the thought of having to cut back on her sweets – the resident is then shocked at being reassured by the robot.

How can it be that this baby-face robot can read emotions and give a sensitive response? The result of a breakthrough by Melbourne and Japanese scientists, Matilda is one of two robots, the other her brother Jack, which has been developed with ’emotional intelligent’ software.

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The next steps in Bionics

With the bionic leg, “I go leg over leg,” says Vawter. “The bionic leg listens to the various signals from my nerves and responds in a much more natural way.”

BBC Health News published Two blind British men have electronic retinas fitted this week, and it prompted me to re-post an article from last October, which includes a very good video by CBS News that hinted at electronic retinas. Now it’s starting to happen. I’ll let you follow the link above for details but encourage you to watch the video below for a sense of what technology is enabling for people with disabilities, as well as those who just want to enhance their abilities.

Step by step, bionic engineers are transforming lives in ways that barely could have been imagined until recently.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

eLegs is the creation of Berkeley BionicsThis CBS News story is about bionic limbs that replace wheelchairs, retinal implants that bring sight to the blind, and synthetic telepathy that reads thoughts and transmits them electronically through a computer and wireless network to control bionics or communicate without formal language.

Occupational Therapists Help Modify Homes for Life

This article was originally published at 1 Call Bath Solutions and is re-posted with permission.

Click image to visit 1 Call Bath Solutions website at http://www.1callbathsolutions.com/I love working with occupational therapists. Why? Because we have the same goal of helping people live longer, fuller and more comfortable lives at home.

Occupational therapists are big picture experts.  Let’s take Mary.  She’s 85, lives at home and is challenged with Parkinson’s.  Sue, her occupational therapist, assesses her physical strengths and weaknesses, how the natural aging process is affecting her (things like eyesight and hearing that affect everyone over time), her medical condition and any psychological issues.  And the psychological part doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with Mary—it could be just the typical fears of losing control over her own life and the lack of privacy that comes from depending on others.

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The Need for an Accessibility Profession

Rob Sinclair, Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft

Rob Sinclair, Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft

By Rob Sinclair,

Rob Sinclair, Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft, presents the perspective of the Accessibility Interoperability Alliance (AIA) Steering Committee. For more details on Microsoft’s commitment to accessibility and valuable resources, visit: www.microsoft.com/enable/.

In the past five years we have seen an increasing number of new devices and technologies enter the market, and we know accessibility is not keeping pace. This is partly due to the fact that the community of accessibility practitioners is overwhelmed by the quantity of standards, public policies, new operating systems from Apple, Google and Microsoft, and the rise of mobile apps. Accessibility is an increasingly complex pursuit, and we need a better global strategy to keep pace with the industry. We believe an international society of accessibility professionals can help.

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Promoting Accessible Web Design at SXSW

The event's logo is shown with the words "South by Southwest" in Braille belowI spent several days this week at SXSW promoting accessible web design in the Knowbility booth and gained a new perspective of Modern Health Talk in the process.

South by Southwest (SXSW)

“South By” is a week-long music & film festival with over 2,000 bands and dozens of movie premiers from all over the world, as well as a fairly new SXSW Interactive segment for web, mobile and social app developers. Downtown Austin is closed to traffic all week and mobbed by an entirely different and very creative, live-fast, party-hard, and die-young species that thrives on alcohol, energy drinks and a high-energy vibe that can over stimulate older people. Bloomberg described it as “Woodstock for Geeks.”

Making traffic and parking even worse, Austin holds its annual rodeo during the same week. So each year I avoid the mess and have never attended even the tech conference, although it is credited for launching Twitter, Foursquare and other web hits and might normally have been interesting to me.

I just found the whole thing too loud, wild and geeky, and with way too much purple hair, tattoos & body piercings for my taste. But this year was different. Some of its attention shifted to Health, and that’s why I was there with Knowbility, taking the Metro Rail from near home to avoid traffic and parking hassles.

A New Look at Web Design (new for me anyway)

Universal access to education, jobs, government and society today means going online on the Internet, but imagine what it’s like for someone who’s blind, has severely limited vision, has some other disability that makes access difficult, or where English is not their primary language. I sat down with a blind person to get a critique of Modern Health Talk and listen to the text read aloud with JAWS screening reading software.

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