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Mobile apps lift health mindfulness

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Weight-related complications are claiming the lives of around 3,4-million people each year and many blame technology as it causes a decline in people’s physical activity. But, AMR SHADY says that the increase in health related mobile apps could help users lead a healthier lifestyle.

With weight-related complications claiming the lives of around 3.4 million adults annually, demand is rising for thousands of mobile applications used daily to track calories, activity levels and vital health signs such as heartrate and blood pressure.

“Helping consumers choose healthy diets” is this year’s theme of the World Consumer Rights Day. Marking Sunday March 15, the event aims at bringing into spotlight the dangers of unhealthy diets, focusing on consumers’ rights to healthy food. The population of obese people reached 600 million in 2014 to comprise 31 percent of the total 1.9 billion overweight adults, according to the World Health Organisation. Overeating poses more threats to health than eating poorly across the world; the only exception would be famine-hit regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa.

While many blame technology for such alarming statistics along with the considerable decline in people’s physical activity, the growing number of health and fitness mobile applications could help mobile users lead a healthier life. Yet another proof that disruptive mobile technologies can positively impact people’s lives; helping them avoid obesity health complications including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

Data points derived from mobile app analytics signal that consumer health consciousness is undergoing massive transformation. A study published by the app analytics provider Flurry revealed that the first half of 2014 witnessed a “stunning” 62 percent increase in health and fitness app usage. The study also reported that there are over 6,800 apps under the health and fitness category on the App Store.

There are more than 3.6 billion mobile phone subscribers in the world today, and the number is expected to surge by 1 billion over the next five years to reach 4.6 billion by 2020, according to ‘The Mobile Economy: 2015’ report, issued by GSMA at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) held earlier this month.

People are more connected than ever before with access to massive amounts of data at a click of button. In their quest to shed weight and lead a healthy life, mobile users download apps that monitor their vitals, and track their eating and exercise habits. The integration of such apps with social media further empowers users as they connect with each other on this health-seeking journey.

“Friends can cheer each other on, like and share their achievements and even start competing against each other. This innovation has increased the viral distribution of these apps through the social networking channel,” says Flurry’s report which cites MapMyFitness as a “great example” of an app that is well-integrated with Facebook.

Maintaining health and losing weight is easier with support. Mobile apps that allow dieters to share their successes and failures with others via social networks have a higher chance of producing more successful results. The use of social media in weight loss and health management allows users to post their goals for everyone to see, adding the benefit of accountability to the journey.

Mobile app users can also keep a virtual diary that tracks what they eat and their level of activity.

There are plenty of great free apps that can help people get into shape and cut out foods they may not even realize are seriously unhealthy. The following figure (retrieved on March 11) shows the top 10 ranking free health and fitness apps on appfigures.com. MyFitnessPal app ranks first on the U.S. iPhone and Amazon app stores. The application tracks calories, keeps a food diary and has a database of over 5 million foods.

A recent study by the “Archives of Internal Medicine” suggests that those who use mobile apps to track their eating habits and count calories generally lose more weight than those who don’t. The proliferation and success of mobile health and fitness apps is paving the way for the fast adoption of wearable technologies that serve the same cause. The Apple Watch, recently introduced to the market, promises to provide consumers with a full picture of their daily activity. The watch’s Activity app promises to “help motivate you to sit less, move more, and get some exercise.”

Mobile and wearable technology offer great support to people who want to lose weight and stay fit. But when it comes to adopting a healthy lifestyle, a commitment to eat better and healthier, is the first step towards creating a new, happier person.

Amr Shady is the founder and chairman of TA telecom.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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