Withings at Health 2.0

October 6, 2011

Health 2.0 is a conference dedicated to innovation in the field of healthcare, emphasizing connectivity and the integration of information technology into all aspects of caregiving. It took place in San Francisco from September 25th to 27th 2011.

As the report of California Healthline puts it, “Many of the Health IT products were more like what you see at MacWorld”. While modern high-tech devices are making their way into hospitals and doctors’ offices, a majority of the products and applications displayed at Health 2.0 were aimed at the general public. More and more, healthcare in the year 2011 appears as the latest branch growing out of the consumer electronics tree.

Leveraging the emerging computing power of smartphones, the interaction models created by social networks and the omnipresence of wireless communication networks, the new tools make health data much easier to collect, store, share and exploit. Some of those devices may look like toys, but perhaps the one thing all those present at Health 2.0 had in common were their unwavering commitment to bringing new and tangible benefits for healthcare.

Perhaps a good example of this is a solution simply called “The Box”. It uses a Microsoft Kinect gaming system, equipped with motion-sensor technology, to track patients recovering from cardiac events as they perform rehabilitation exercises. At the other end of the chain, doctors use a tablet application to check the results and a video conferencing app to communicate with their patients and recommend exercises. One “Box” costs less than $500 to put together using tools and devices already available in front stores, sometimes developed for uses far removed from healthcare. The ingenuity of “The Box” allowed it to win the “code-a-thon” contest held during the conference. Another example is Healthper, a new service that makes health activities more fun by presenting them as games and offering rewards to the users who accomplish various actions within those games, and improve their health in the process.

As for Withings, we were invited to expose our design philosophy during a panel. If we tried to sum it up in one word, it would probably be that we strive to make devices that are “smart”. “Smart” because they are easy to use, and therefore can take their place unobtrusively into everyday life, “smart” because their design is elegant and home-friendly and “smart” because they come out of the box fully connected: they generate a stream of data and push this data toward any direction that users need, be it their dashboard, their physician, an online fitness site, etc.

Health 2.0 was also a great opportunity to seek new partnerships with health-related services to expand the compatibility of the Withings devices. Expect more news on that front in the coming weeks!