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Thursday, July 11th, 2013
Diapers embedded with a medical analysis device that syncs with a smartphone app promise to give parents more information than ever about their babies’ health–based on the contents of their diapers. More on the in-development, and sure to be controversial, “Smart Diapers” from ABC News:
About a year and a half ago Jennie Rubinshteyn and Yaroslav Faybishenko’s 1-year-old daughter was crying in the back seat of their car.
“I was being paranoid. I couldn’t stop asking myself and my husband, ‘What is in her diaper? What’s in her diaper?” Rubinshteyn, 35, told ABC News. Faybishenko responded, “Data is her diaper. Urine is full of so much health information.”
And that, the couple says, was the start of a new family business in making what they call “Smart Diapers.” No, the diapers don’t send tweets or alerts about when there’s pee or poop inside — that’s still a job for Huggies’ TweetPee app. Instead, the husband-wife team have invented a regular disposable diaper with a medical trick — it collects information about a child’s urine.
A dry-reagent panel, just like those colorful sticks you pee on at the doctor, sits on the front of the diaper. It works a lot like a QR code. Using the Smart Diapers iOS and Android app, a parent can scan the panel and see information about the urine.
Rubinshteyn and Faybishenko explain that parents would do this once a day, and the information about their child’s urine would be stored in the app. The goal is to accumulate data about urination patterns and then use that data to spot urinary tract infections, dehydration or developing kidney problems. The app will fire off an alert if something peculiar is found.
“This is about health monitoring, not understanding whether the diaper is wet,” Rubinshteyn, who has an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania and experience working in finance, said. Her husband brings the computer science and health technology experience to the table. In addition, they have two biomedical engineers on staff at their company, called Pixie Scientific.
The Smart Diapers are still in testing, though. The couple is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on approval and testing them at pediatric hospitals. The goal is to bring them to hospitals and then to the broader market. The pricing isn’t set yet, but according to Faybishenko, the diapers will be 30 to 40 percent more expensive than regular diapers. They plan to sell the Smart Diapers in a package with regular diapers, since they only need to be worn once a day.
Image: Mom changing diaper, via Shutterstock
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Monday, April 15th, 2013
A new smartphone app that could help doctors diagnose autism spectrum disorders (ASD) by uploading videos of children’s behaviors to a website is in development. The app is intended to help streamline the diagnostic process, in line with research that shows that earlier diagnosis–and intervention–leads to more successful outcomes in autistic kids. A shortage of specialists can delay proper diagnosis by as long as six months, the app’s developers say. More from USA Today:
To help with the problem, the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, a Phoenix-based autism research nonprofit, is developing a smartphone application that specialists would use to diagnose autism based on videos of children’s behavior uploaded onto a website.
The app, the Naturalistic Observation Diagnostic Assessment, could shorten the diagnostic process so children can get treatment earlier, especially in rural communities where skilled specialists are difficult to find….
Parents still would have to arrange follow-up treatment and care with specialists, and there would be an unknown cost for the app-based diagnosis.
The autism center, which is funding the app development with a $2.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, is collaborating with Behavior Imaging Solutions, a Boise, Idaho, medical-technology company, and the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
Christopher Smith, the autism center’s vice president and director of research, said that testing will begin this summer with a few families and that the app will potentially be available as early as 2014.
“This is an exciting opportunity for the community to find new ways to at least help lower and help reduce the disparity of health care in this country,” said Andy Shih, senior vice president of scientific affairs at Autism Speaks, one of the world’s largest autism-advocacy organizations.
Image: Doctor using smartphone, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, December 13th, 2012
The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether mobile apps marketed to children may violate kids’ rights to privacy, and may be misleading parents with confusing and inaccurate privacy policies. The FTC has already identified a number of companies that are engaging in the dubious practices, tracking children’s mobile behaviors without the consent of parents. The FTC is also poised to vote on a new set of rules that would limit such companies’ ability to track pre-teens on their mobile devices. The Washington Post has more:
“The agency and the Obama administration have pushed for stronger protections for children who are spending more time than ever online, thanks largely to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets in homes and schools.
While current law puts strict limits on advertising to children in print or on television, it provides fuzzier guidance on mobile technology, which can be far more invasive. Tech companies, for instance, can instantaneously locate a user, track a person’s social-media habits or keep a record of every Web site visited.
Those kinds of data, however sensitive to parents,have allowed companies to target ads and develop programs for children with a kind of precision that wasn’t available just a few years ago. The push by the government to update child privacy rules has faced resistance from Silicon Valley giants, including Facebook, Apple and Google, as well as the companies developing mobile apps. While they agree that children should be afforded special protections, they also argue some of the proposals would stifle a nascent and innovative industry.
Still, the FTC said it would launch “multiple” investigations into mobile apps companies that may have violated laws on deceptive practices or the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a 1998 law that public interest groups say badly needs an update. The agency declined to identify the names or the number of companies that it would target in its probes.”
Image: Young girl texting, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, November 1st, 2012
Teenagers who use smartphones are more likely to engage in sexual activities than their peers who do not have the devices, a new study presented to the American Public Health Association has found. The reason may be as simple as convenience; smartphones enable teens to more easily arrange sexual encounters. MSNBC.com has more:
Smartphones likely aren’t directly causing risky teen sex, said study researcher Eric Rice, of the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work in Los Angeles. Rather, smartphones may make it easier for teens to arrange sexual encounters, Rice said.
“It’s a tool through which this sort of behavior can happen,” Rice said.
While parents have come up with strategies to monitor the online behavior of their kids on computers, “I don’t know that we’ve thought through quite as clearly what it means for teens to have the Internet on their phones 24 hours a day,” Rice said.
Rice said sex education programs should start to include discussions regarding the risks of seeking sex online. In addition, parents should use this as an opportunity to begin a discussion with their teen about sexual health and use of technology, he said.
“I don’t want parents to freak out,” Rice said.
This new research follows a recent study that found that teens who “sext” or send sexually suggestive text messages, are 7 times more likely to be sexually active.
Image: Teen on smartphone, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
A new study by a San Francisco non-profit organization has found that kids are spending more time than ever in front of television, tablet, computer, and smartphone screens. This is despite longstanding advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that screen time be severely limited, if not avoided, before age 2.
Common Sense Media, the organization that conducted the survey of more than 1,300 parents, found that half of all children under age 8 had access to a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile media device. About half of kids under age 2 watch some television or DVDs every day, and those who do spend an average of 2 hours in front of the screen. And almost one-third of kids under 2 have televisions in their bedrooms, which is something the AAP specifically recommends against.
“It’s the beginning of an important shift, as parents increasingly are handing their iPhones to their 1 ½-year-old kid as a shut-up toy. And parents who check their e-mail three times on the way to the bus stop are constantly modeling that behavior, so it’s only natural the kids want to use mobile devices too,” James Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, told The New York Times.
The study found significant differences across socioeconomic lines, with more children (64 percent) under 8 having televisions in their rooms if their family income is under $30,000. Twenty percent of kids that age have televisions in their rooms in families with incomes above $75,000.
The study also noted that only 14 percent of respondents said their pediatricians had discussed media use with them.
(image via: http://blog.smarthide.com)
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