It’s the end of the year and I feel obliged to surrender to the compulsion to make lists of notable, best, worst, most memorable things like everyone else with a byline. After thinking about what I felt to be the most important and life altering healthcare news of 2014, I immediately cast those ideas aside in favor of my favorite ridiculous healthcare news of the year. My motives are pure: Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports that laughing and smiling more will make you healthier and help you live to 100, so I wanted to write something that will contribute to the greater good.
It was a tough call. I had two stories that I couldn’t stop laughing about this year, both of which occurred late in 2014. There may have been good ones earlier in 2014, but I am getting too old to remember that far back and it’s pretty hard to beat my top two even with a great memory.
Hard to believe, but my runner up favorite story of the year is this one about two guys pitching a company to a room full of other guys about a new probiotic supplement that will enable women to make their lady parts smell like ripe peaches. The two morons who pitched this company at the recent DEMO Conference in San Jose apparently wish that women, if they actually ever met a live one, would be more like their favorite fruit than like actual people. FYI, one of these so-called entrepreneurs is also running a company that makes pet poop smell like bananas. I sense a theme.
I know, I know, how could anything top the ridiculousness of that story? It has it all: men making women’s “health” products, male entrepreneurs equating the problematic smell of dog poo with women’s natural scent and, of course, the answer to the pressing medical problem of why, oh why don’t more things smell like fruit salad? Lord knows that any venture capitalist should love the market size for these opportunities. But in the end, this story didn’t win out over my other choice because, as it turns out, after they were exposed for being the idiots that they are, that these two guys had actually hijacked a seemingly legitimate women’s health concept and made it absurd through their own wishful thinking or need for attention. In my next career move, I am hoping to invent a product that, when sprayed onto misogynistic doofuses, turns them back into frogs, but with a fresh lemon scent.
In selecting my very favorite health-related story of the year, I took into account that 2014 has definitely been the year that wearable sensors came into their own. Between FitBit, Misfit, Basis, Samsung, Jawbone, Withings, Microsoft and every other company, including Apple, that tossed their wearable sensor into the ring (onto the wrist?), it is estimated that about 20 million wearables were sold to people who have empty drawer space to fill about 12 weeks after purchase. But the trend keeps on keepin’ on and so…..
I bring to you my absolute favorite ridiculous health story of the year about the ultimate wearable sensor device: the suit that makes it impossible to die when a giant Anaconda eats you, or so you hope.
I am sure you all heard about Paul Rosolie who, in the name of “conservation.” hunted down a giant 20-foot anaconda in the Amazon and bugged the snake until it was fed up enough to eat the guy on camera in a Discovery Channel TV show called “Eaten Alive.” Unfortunately this wasn’t a suicide attempt, as the gene pool could use a little cleansing and a guy who volunteers to be digested by a giant snake is probably the kind of guy who should be weeded out. (New business idea: maybe the first guys I introduced you to can invent something that makes the guy smell like bananas when the snake excretes him?). However, this was a banner opportunity to prove the utility of wearables and ingestibles (not the guy, the sensors) in a year where everybody except me must have received a wearable device under their Christmas tree. I already have so many I have received as conference gifts that my Christmas tree is actually made from wearables.
Rosolie’s magic suit, made with the help of USC bioengineers, made use of chain mail and cooling technology and acid-resistant coatings and carbon fiber and a bunch of other stuff that was supposed to keep Rosolie from being killed while being eaten.
He also ingested a sensor-laden pill which, via blue tooth technology, relayed heart rate, respiration rate and core body temperature back to a wearable vest on the suit that could be monitored by the observers who, I am guessing, were secretly hoping that the snake was really hungry and a highly effective digester.
The scientist who made the suit noted that it was made to fit only Rosolie and thus viewers should not try this at home when they are done cutting the safety tags off pillows. I like the fact that, in an era where personalization and customization are coming to healthcare, this wearable is right in line with trend. I suspect that the line of people waiting for an anaconda-resistant wearable suit is not as long as the line that will form when Apple launches its forthcoming health tracking watch, but perhaps someone could build a HealthKit app that serves the purpose.
If you just can’t live without more info about this whole snake-eating man situation, here is the video that shows them testing the suit in the lab before testing it the hard way, if you know what I mean.
And if you are just bored enough over the holidays to spend an hour watching a reality show that is basically the exact opposite of Survivor, you can watch the entire anaconda brunch session HERE. Good news if you are Paul Rosolie: the wearable worked as intended and he is still alive; he got about shoulder deep into the snake, decided this might just be a bad idea and pulled the plug. This elicited a pretty hilarious stream of Twitter reactions, my favorite of which is this one:
Bad news if you are the snake: no one has seen him since and it is entirely possible he choked to death when Rosolie’s FitBit went down the wrong pipe, but that is pure conjecture.
Happy holidays everyone! I hope you got a laugh out of this and thus are on your way to an even healthier 2015. Best regards, Lisa