Entries in technology (4)


linking healthcare, technology + design

Exciting news from Essential! Next week, we’ll be hosting Essential Threads: linking healthcare, technology + design at the Microsoft New England Research & Development Center. The first of its kind, this event was created to bolster collaboration, conversation and most importantly, action within Boston’s innovation community.  

The inaugural event will examine the convergence of existing and emerging technologies and trends, and their impact on the design of healthcare systems, experiences and products. Speakers from across the healthcare spectrum, from patient-to-patient information sharing to chronic disease management among other topics, will share their perspectives and insights, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Editor and Co-founder of MobiHealthNews, Brian Dolan. The esteemed group of speakers we’ll be hosting include Dr. John Moore from the New Media Medicine Group at MIT Media Lab , Jeremy Gilbert, Head of Commercial Product at PatientsLikeMe, Anand Iyer, President and COO of WellDoc and Bill Hartman, Director of Research at Essential.

Hear what some of leading organizations in the industry are up to. Add your perspective and be part of the conversation at the event that’s sure to inspire and inform.

More information and registration here.

Can’t attend the April 4th program? Follow every exciting moment live using hashtag #FutureHC or follow @_Essential.


Altec Lansing at CES2012

While the convergence of interconnected technologies was a big hit, it was also great to see so many Essential clients at CES 2012. Altec Lansing was there, showcasing a series of cool wireless speaker products designed by Essential. The Altec speakers were part of a timely resurgence of high quality audio that was evident across exhibitors at the show. Two examples that stood out in particular were the Apple Airplay® based inAir5000 speaker, which seamlessly streams content from your preferred iOS ecosystem and the LIVE Wi-Fi Music System that extends the audio experience to the cloud or home network. The concept for both products is based around a new soft minimal design language that seeks to connect high quality audio experiences that comfortably fit and respond to the situations and environments of use. Each received extremely positive reviews for performance and design. The InAir 5000 also picked up a CES Innovations award. Both products will be launched this spring.

Altec showcased other products designed by our team over the last year. The IMT 630 extends the new design language to the docking category in a super portable dock for the iPod and iPhone. The overall impression of the new products was one of heightened sophistication and connectivity to Altec Lansing’s audio heritage. A newly revamped booth at CES helped round out the overall positive impression of the brand.  



 The landscape of CES is changing. The nature of new innovation at CES has shifted from blockbuster physical products to a focus on making online and mobile entertainment experiences faster, more efficient, more organized and more visual.

Beyond the trajectory of connected technology, there were few groundbreaking innovations on display at the 2012 show. Take TV’s for example. When flat screens first launched, it was one of the biggest stories at CES. It was truly about who would have the biggest and thinnest screen. Although large OLED displays, and improved 3-D TV technologies are cool, it’s clear that the real innovation is now in the way entertainment experiences are converging into one unified ecosystem of services and applications.

The theme of interconnectedness and convergence is driving three big innovation spaces:

1. Digital Health and Wellbeing

CES now includes a growing component devoted to rapidly evolving connected health solutions. At the 2012 show, these ranged from solutions like the Fibit Aria Wi-Fi Scale or the Valencell biometric data tracker, which monitors users’ physiological data through an ear piece. In the fitness and wellbeing category, there was a range of product solutions devoted to monitoring users’ fitness or tracking progress through participant competition.  Companies like Nike and Motorola have seized the opportunity, with products like the Fuelband and MOTOACTV, which further illustrate the momentum in this space. For example, Motorola’s MOTOACTIV uses Bluetooth technology to allow users to enjoy a workout and then monitor performance directly on the device and online at the MOTOACTV Training Portal.

More importantly, large healthcare providers, like United Healthcare, now see CES as an opportunity to showcase a portfolio of mobile and online connected health solutions that begin to indicate how interconnected solutions will become an everyday component of our healthcare experience.

2. Connected Home

For several years now, interconnected technologies have been making an increased impact on the way we live at home. From security to entertainment, and from energy management to the way we connect with the world, all of these technologies are being ubiquitously integrated into the digital and physical “wiring” of our home environment.  Managing and monitoring everything that surrounds our living environment can now be tracked as easily from the other side of the world as it is in an individual room. The most compelling solutions surround the way we bring more efficiency to our homes.

 Integrating connected technologies in the home environment requires a high level of human connection and sensitivity to the user’s environment,  both from a usability standpoint, as well as an emotional standpoint. One of the challenges is going to be how we, as designers, ensure technology and information do not overwhelm users.

3. Mobility

CES has also seen an increase in convergence of technology and information within the automotive space. This year, the momentum continued with several major automotive brands, such as Ford, Mercedes, and GM, showcasing a range of entertainment technologies and display methodologies that focused on on-board screens and content delivery. These automakers are providing consumers with an integrated vessel, guiding, entertaining and even managing their personal wellbeing.

The integrated vessel was best showcased by Ford, who is marrying healthcare and mobility through its partnership with mobile health company WellDoc. Ford displayed an in-car health system that monitors the driver for issues such as congestive heart failure, asthma and diabetes. The system uses the Ford SYNC® connectivity technologies to connect data from cloud-based services

Expect the areas of digital health, connected home and mobility to not only continue to grow in their own right, but also to see a rapid acceleration in the interconnectedness between these segments as the cloud continues to provide an immediate channel for convergence.


Size Matters 

Have you ever wondered why are we so obsessed with ever-shrinking gadgets?

While the basic functions of gadgets remain relatively steady, we focus all of our energy on creating an aesthetic around being small. Is this preference for the petite inherent in humans or is it a fad we’ve been conditioned to crave by competing technology companies trying to out-innovate one another?  

In his article for Humans Invent, Nigel Brown discusses his theories as to why designers are constantly trying to fit the most components into the “smallest” or “thinnest” devices. According to Brown, our cravings for minimalist features date back to cavemen who needed the most portable, efficient instruments in order to survive. His hypothesis is that our obsession with small and efficient is entirely in our nature, even acting as a therapeutic for our oft chaotic and stressful lives. 

As we innovate and develop new products, our devices become smaller, sleeker and more efficient, getting rid of unnecessary, wasteful spaces. We have come a long way from bulky telephone systems and computers that take up an entire room, but we certainly have a long way to go before we start implanting microchips in our bodies. Or do we?