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Health and Wellbeing

FIRCLE: software for managing the family

January 25, 2006 Any business school will tell you that “failing to plan” equates to “planning to fail.” We wholeheartedly accept this in business and our understanding of the science of business has come further in the last three decades than it did in the previous three millennia thanks to the computer’s myriad gifts being multiplied by the global network; the ability to collaborate, access and share information and to measure, analyse and improve systems. So why don’t we use computers to measure and improve our family lives? We’ve previously written about personal life-coaching software named Life Balance and EasyChild’s behaviour modification software system designed to monitor, assess and encourage children to succeed in life. Now there’s a new system which incorporates some of both of these products and much more for computerising and managing the family – it’s called Fircle and it’s an internet-based system containing a shared family calendar, children’s allowance and chore management, family rules (set your own and set penalties for transgressions), a family address book, personal journals, family voting on topics of your choice, ToDo lists and so much more. So much in fact, that it scared us …  Read More

Boomers fuel growth of technology-based home healthcare solutions

January 21, 2006 The baby boomers are heading for senior citizenship and the most populous generation in history is about to give life to yet new markets. The news this week that giant Dutch technology company Philips has purchased 'personal emergency response' company Lifeline is an indication of the growing importance of technology-based home healthcare solutions as the boomers seek to prolong their independence. Lifeline has over 30 years' experience of monitoring seniors living independently at home and has a broad presence in the North American market with a turnover of US$150 million growing at 15%. In addition to the strong growth offered by the underlying market, the new business will draw on Philips' strengths in technology and innovation to create new products and services in an area it has been studying and developing for many years. These new offerings will have a clear consumer focus that differentiates them from 'traditional' healthcare services paid for by insurers. Longer term, Lifeline will serve as a platform for a broader array of home healthcare solutions, such as Motiva, Philips pioneering interactive healthcare system.  Read More

New product reduces discoloration of dark under-eye circles

January 20, 2006 The desire to look and feel your best is universal, but with the baby boomer generation now entering senior citizen status, it is flexing its purchasing power on products that promise to reduce wrinkles, plump the lips, and "turn back the hands of time," and the professional skin care market is forecast to remain one of the fastest-growing sectors of the cosmetics and toiletries industry for some time. Interestingly, even with all of the anti-aging beauty products on the market, there has been one problem area that has persisted until now - dark under-eye circles. Now there’s a product that claims to fade these dark circles by using a series of natural enzymes that break down the blood around the tender under-eye area. Over time, Hydroxatone Revive aids in preventing blood leakage as it helps to strengthen the weakened capillaries while simultaneously reducing wrinkles, resulting in noticeably younger looking eyes.  Read More

Gizmo of the Week: the US$44.40 wheelchair

January 19, 2006 It is estimated that there are more than 100 million people in the world who need a wheelchair but cannot afford one. Mechanical engineer Don Schoendorfer had a secure, highly-paid job when he decided he could make a difference during his short stay on the planet, forsaking his job and embarking on a quest to help all those people. Don’s goal is to distribute 20 million of the pictured wheelchairs by the year 2010. Don set up the Free Wheelchair Mission in California in 2001 as non-profit organization committed to providing the gift of mobility to the physically disabled poor in developing countries and has just manufactured its 100,000th wheelchair. The central seat is a plastic garden chair – the use of existing parts enables the wheelchair to be manufactured in China, shipped in knockdown form via container, assembled and delivered to needy people all over the world for a total factory-to-field price of US$44.40. The Free Wheelchair Mission creatively partners with like-minded international humanitarian and indigenous organizations and it also accepts donations. Just think how much difference US$44.40 can make to the life of one human being.  Read More

Personal cooling kits for extreme climatic conditions

January 2, 2006 The human body is a remarkable thing, as is evidenced by its ability to adapt to less than ideal conditions. The temperature in the cockpit of a Formula 1 racing car sometimes reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit, with the driver required to drive consistently within the 99th percentile of perfection for up to 90 minutes under this overwhelming heat stress whilst racing wheel-to-wheel, experiencing enormous G-forces and constantly processing large amounts of additional information. Now consider the equivalent stresses experienced by combat soldiers in Iraq. HMMWV crews in IRAQ are experiencing temperatures as much as 10 degrees more than this, for up to 12 hours at a time, while people are trying to kill them. The problem has been exacerbated in recent times by additional armour fitted to the HMMWV and has resulted in the rapid development of personal cooling kits. Each HMMWV cooling kit consists of four water-filled vests known as, Air Warrior Microclimatic Cooling Garments (MCGs). The vests fit over a soldier’s normal body armor and are connected via hoses to a vehicles’ on-board air conditioning system. One wonders if Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher might be able to squeese an extra tenth of a second here and there if they were fitted with such parephenalia.  Read More

Razorba - the shaver for backs!

December 13, 2005 Stand in front of the mirror when you get up tomorrow morning and you’ll notice more than a few reminders that man descended from the apes – an unhealthy disposition when threatened and a liberal sprinkling of hair are the most obvious. Males of the species range from growing hair on their heads to hair all over their body and personal grooming preferences often necessitate shaving some or all of this hair regularly. We’ve already covered the shaver designed specifically for shaving heads, and now there’s an equally ingenious shaving accessory for shaving your back – until now, everybody has had to employ the indulgence ofa friend to successfully shave their inaccessible regions. Now you need just slip their favourite razor into the Razorba and shave yourself. All of the alternatives have major drawbacks - chemicals (costs, needs volunteer, potential skin irritation), laser treatment (costs muchos, requires appointment), waxing (costs, hurts muchos) are the sum total of ways man has used technology to combat this age-old problem. So you can see why Razorba should be commended for a job well done!  Read More

New hangover cure could change the culture

December 9, 2005 The launch of a promising new hangover cure in Las Vegas next week marks an interesting time to reflect on man’s relationship with alcohol. Cheerz is a safe, natural nutrition supplement that has been clinically proven to combat hangover symptoms such as headaches and nausea by bolstering the body's ability to process acetaldehyde, alcohol's most toxic metabolite. The world per capita consumption of alcohol is higher than ever, having begun at the dawn of civilisation, with the Celts, Ancient Greeks, the Norse, Sumerians, Egyptians, Romans and Babylonians all producing, trading and consuming alcoholic drinks. The Romans and ancient Greeks both worshipped Gods of wine – Dionysus and Bacchus respectively. In different cultures, alcohol and its effects have been used medically, ritualistically and socially in many different ways to calm feuds, give courage in battle, seal pacts, celebrate festivals, and seduce lovers. The world has two billion alcohol drinkers of which 76.3 million have diagnosed alcohol use disorders. The global burden of alcohol consumption, is immense - causing 3.2% of deaths and 4.0% of the Disability-Adjusted Life Years lost along with widespread social, mental and emotional consequences. These are reflected, for example, as absenteeism or abuse in workplaces and in relationships. We attempted to estimate the number of hangovers and reduced productivity in the world each day and gave up – it’s a lot. Which all adds up to … bloody good idea! The vast majority are social drinkers who can now enjoy the desirable effects without the unhealthy toxicity. So if bartenders are going to ask customers to name their poison, maybe they should offer the antidote, too.  Read More

The Personal Radiation Detector

December 7, 2005 The GammaRAE II is a gamma radiation detector designed for first responders, but hey, it’ll come in handy if you never use it. Features include fast two second response as well as certified intrinsic safety for use in hazardous environments and the ability to be immersed in water for decontamination. The detection instrument, the GammaRAE II, detects gamma radiation at extremely low levels and is designed to alert first responders to the presence of radioactive material and aid in the capture of illicit "dirty bomb" materials. Designed as a front-line security device, this product provides life-critical, real-time detection of hidden radiation sources and delivers instantaneous feedback to law enforcement personnel including municipal police departments, border check-point personnel, hazmat teams, fire fighters and cargo port screeners. At US$995 it just might be a big seller this holiday and gift-giving period.  Read More

The Bionic Hand takes shape

December 4, 2005 The popular television series The Bionic Man was probably the first inkling most of us had that one day man would be enhanced by machinery to better-than-new condition. The promise has been a long time in coming, but medical scientists across the world are advancing towards the implementation of bionic limbs. In July we reported on the work of Brazilian doctor Miguel Nicolelis, and now the CYBERHAND Project, which involves collaboration between six tertiary institutions across four countries (Spain, Germany, Italy and Denmark) has finally produced a bionic hand. The project team led by Paolo Dario with Professor Maria Chiara Carrozza leading the development of the hand, has been working on re-creating the natural link which exists between the hand and the Central Nervous System (CNS) and if all goes according to plan, the first of these bionic hands will be implanted inside a real human arm within two years.  Read More

Bone exercise monitor for potential osteoporosis sufferers

December 1, 2005 Osteoporosis is a serious health problem in most industrialized countries where 50% of women and 25% of men over 50 years of age will suffer an osteoporotic fracture. Over 75 million people are afflicted by osteoporosis in Europe, USA and Japan alone. Bone exercise is one the things that can significantly reduce the impact of osteoporosis and has led to the development of a new Bone Exercise Monitor which indicates whether the person using it has engaged in physical activities that may have been helpful in strengthening their bones. The Finish-developed Newtest Bone Exercise Monitor is a small device worn on the hip, and offers an excellent tool for 30 – 50 year-old women to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of their bone exercise. The monitor measures and analyses the user’s physical activity in real-time and indicates the percentage of the required daily bone exercise that has been achieved.  Read More

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