It was my second year attending the wild and crazy Computer Electronics Show and, particularly the Digital Health Summit. If you’re looking for outrageous innovation that makes you hit your head with the heel of your hand and say “WTF?” CES is the place for you. As if Vegas isn’t surreal enough without 150,000 nerd inventors running around hawking virtual reality technologies in search of a market. I was so entertained by the display of technological gizmosity that I didn’t even gamble…well I did for a little while, but for me it was pretty restrained.
I could regale you with my tales of various non-healthcare items, such as multiple drones that are dedicated to taking selfies (My category winner for: Technologies that Most Assertively Advance Narcissism) and an impressive array of robots with no obvious purpose (my category winner for: Are We the Jetson’s Yet?), but there were enough things in the health and wellness and fitness areas to keep me category specific.
The three biggest themes I noticed at CES in the health and fitness categories were:
- an obsession with the brain (games and products to advance/improve/recover neuroplasticity; products to address/measure head trauma, etc);
- the obvious wearables category, which took up more real estate on the CES floor than the entire state of Texas; and,
- the pet health/care category, which proves my theory that people like their pets better than their family members and thus will spend real cash on crap to keep them healthier and safer whereas they won’t pay their own insurance co-pays for real problems.
Yes, there were other themes and no less than three wired toothbrushes (WTF?), but these three categories really stood out and took up a disproportionate share of floor and stage space.
On the brain front, there were lots of companies, including Interaxon, creator of Muse, which is used for biofeedback, and SingFit, which uses music to improve symptoms of dementia (one of my faves..see this prior post). But if you’re looking for one that gives you that WTF? feeling, I’d go with My Brain Technologies, whose Melomind uses neuroplasticity approaches to help you self soothe; in theory it reads your brain waives and plays music that annoys you to help you self soothe and as you calm down the music gets more pleasing…a little counter intuitive if you ask me. I think I could easily speed up my own self-soothing process by taking the headset off and repeatedly jumping up and down on it with my sensible shoes (a requirement for the massive CES floor), but someone might put a wireless straightjacket on me and lord knows there could be a watch-deployed drone around to record that for all to see.
On the wearables front, you could find a fitness/smartwatch thingy for every blade of grass on earth. You could wear a different CES-featured smart watch every day of the year in 2015 and still not have worn them all. Seriously people—enough already. The good news is that there are also other interesting form factors coming on line for wearables, such as wearable patches/bandaid thingies, headsets, eyeglasses, clothing items, socks, shoes, you name it. On the serious front, I was intrigued by SmartWatch, which helps predict epilepsy seizures before they happen. Now that’s a good use of a wearable technology.
On the WTF? front, I’m going with Belty, which sounds like a South Park character but is actually a smart belt that automatically adjusts itself throughout the day, depending on how much you’ve eaten and how much exercise you’ve done to compensate. It also has a bunch of embedded fitness sensors and other stuff to tell you that, “oh by the way, the reason that your belt is automatically expanding is that YOU ARE NOT FIT!.” The belt connects to an app that tracks your data and gives you feedback and suggestions based on what is happening with the belt, kind of like when your wife tells you to stop eating all that crap. Hilarious.
The considerably large pet health and safety category at CES blew my mind. My friend, Laurie Orlov, has written a blog post talking about the size of the pet market in the US, which is almost the exact same size as the entire mobile phone market. She notes that there are pet doors for chubby pets and robotic dog petsitters, so take that Fido. On the CES show floor there were a billion trackers for pets, including one called Wonderwoof that looked like a natty bow tie, several that allowed you to watch your pet remotely and/or skype with it in case it misses you while you are away (who’s the needy one now, I wonder?), and even, you guessed it, wearable fitness trackers to prove that your dog does, in fact, sleep all day while you are at work. There were also some serious entrants here, such as LifeLearnSofie, winner of one of the EveryDay Health Awards, which relies on IBM Watson technology and is an “an intelligent treatment support tool for veterinarians that assists them in making quick, evidence-based decisions.” I did have someone try to tell me that there is an emerging Internet of Things for Houses with Cats, so put that in your technology pipe and smoke it. Or in your litterbox. Really.
The Digital Health Summit at CES this year was so large that it needed it’s own separate venue apart from the main Las Vegas Convention Center. About 800 people were in attendance for the speaking tracks. I got to take the stage to talk about technologies for the age 50+ marketplace and what a huge opportunity that is (over $30 Billion, with a B). A video interview that I did afterwards with Jody Holtzman, SVP Thought Leadership of AARP, can be seen below.
Other good content from the conference can be found HERE.
I’m just disappointed the Digital Health Summit videos weren’t taken by a drone. Hey wait: great idea: We need a wearable fitness watch-based drone that, when deployed, deposits the wearable directly into the nightstand drawer without human intervention. Now that would be a useful timesaver. Maybe next year!