So a bit of a lapse in posts for me as I spent a luxurious few weeks vacationing. It’s amazing how fast that buzz can wear off as the world shoots you out of a cannon and back into your desk chair.
I figured I would ease back into the blog with something light-hearted, so today I bring you the first installment of Digital Health: What the Hell? This intermittent but ongoing series will highlight so-called digital health products that are actually real but which, at least in my personal opinion, fail to meet the classic VC requirement of “need to have” vs. “nice to have.” In some cases, the products highlighted even struggle to achieve “nice to have” status, so odd are they in concept or utility.
This series was inspired by two other individuals: the first, a new friend, Dorit, who I met recently and who sent me this unbelievably funny Stephen Colbert video about a digital health product called Vessyl. Vessyl, whose name features the obligatory tech misspelling, is a cup that tells you what liquid is in the cup and how many calories it has, which, as Colbert states, “features a level of information that was previously available only on the can you just poured it out of.” Awesome
The second inspiration for this post was my partner in crime, Dr. Milena Adamian, with whom I have been sharing unique digital health product stories over the past year or so. While on vacation, Milena sent me two entries that have led me to this Digital Health: What the Hell? South of the Border Edition.
The first product she sent me was an app she had seen at a pitch competition called So They Can Know.
The app is designed to help people who’ve been diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases to anonymously tell their partners. In other words, it provides one with scripts and links to help you phone, email, or, best of all, text someone to tell them that they may need a little visit to the doctor. The theory behind this is that people are too embarrassed to notify their partners that some unwanted memories have been left behind. Conveniently, the app allows you to text up to 10 people at a time! And even better, the text or email you receive allows the recipient to forward something similar to up to 10 of his/her own friends, and so on–the modern day equivalent of a Faberge Shampoo ad.
And yes, I know someone will write in and tell me that they need this level of organization in their life and by having an app like this lives might be saved. But seriously, is this a company that warrants venture funding?
Milena’s second selection for consideration was this one: Tampon Timer (an iPeriod companion app, no less), which you can read about HERE.
The purpose of Tampon Timer, as you can probably guess, is to tell you it is time to change your tampon. The good news: all of the spelling of the two words is as the Oxford Dictionary would allow. The bad news: Really? For centuries, and I mean 16 centuries since the ancient Egyptians had tampons, women have pretty much had this figured out. OK, there might be an occasional situation where you are so absorbed (no pun intended) in your work or other activities that you might forget, but by and large this is not one of women’s top 5 health crises.
To round out this South of the Border edition of Digital Health: What the Hell? I also recently saw significant press for a new device that “helps women do Kegel exercises.” For the uninitiated, Kegels are the pelvic floor exercises that help women maintain bladder control as they age and during pregnancy. According to kGoal (another spelling mutation), which is raising money on Kickstarter, “this is a device + app that provides a fun, interactive platform to guide, measure and track your pelvic floor exercise. It’s like having a personalized gym, physical therapist, and tracking system in the palm of your hand!” Or lower, I suppose.
Again, I am sure there are people who will tell me that this is an absolutely essential tool for some women who just can’t make themselves do their exercises, but it may be the built in vibrator that is the real selling point. I suspect we will never know…
Tune in for another edition of Digital Health: What the Hell? for more, shall we say, interesting products that arise Frankenstein-like from the minds of those trying just a little too hard at the intersection of technology and healthcare.
I loved this post on ridiculous apps. What the hell!
Here are two more (a bit old, but ridiculous nonetheless):
Love Vibes: An app to measure your sexual prowess (bit.ly/tUz0Cy )
The Confession App ( bit.ly/vedh0H)
Colbert was spot on…Has he been to the Valley??
Matthew Holt says
a) So They Can Know is a frigging non-profit, so unlikely to be VC backable. (I mean I know you guys back many companies that never make a profit but that’s not the idea, allegedly)
b) It’s dealing with a damn important issue–trying to eliminate Chlamydia in inner cities. And yes, research has shown that if you get enough people in a “circle” tested and treated, you can actually eradicate it
c) So They Can Know’s leading light is a really bright young passionate researcher called Jessica Ladd–who is not the typical startup CEO you should be making fun of.
And BTW while So They Can Now is unlikely to be something you and Milena may need, I’m not so sure that the Kegel exerciser is a stupid idea that you’ll never need! (I’m the son of a gynecologist and heard lots about problems women faced in this “region” as they aged)