Stroller Folds into a Backpack

QuickSmart invented a stroller that turns into a backpack.

If you have ever been (or will be) a parent, this is likely to become your favorite tool. Kids want in, then out then into a stroller and they are always needed. If you could just put the stroller on your back, it would be much easier.

This also comes in handy when you are taking the stroller through some tough terrain. Say you are at the park, and you want to take a trail. The young one is going to have to do some walking, but the stroller is safely on the back. It weighs about 9 pounds, which shouldn’t be much if on your back and will come in handy in those airport sprints.

What is really interesting is that the stroller is pretty advanced with a 5-point harness, canopy, padded seat, footrest, and built-in shopping basket with side pockets.

It costs about $160 to $194, which seems like a good price compared to other strollers I have seen and none of then fold up so nicely.

Tech Talent Infographic

This infographic from Udemy points out who is being hired and why as well as providing some information to those trying to decide on the next direction in their careers.

It is important to note that without those key personnel who can take the ideas and turn them into reality, companies like Google, Apple and Facebook would not have the success they do.

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Business Travel is Obsolete

While traveling in general can be a mixed bag. You know, with the trials and tribulations that come with arranging transportation, sleeping in ANY bed not your own, etc.  Traveling when required for work is obsolete in all but the most specialized of cases.

I think the biggest difference is that it is not really an option to bring along my family and after spending a whole weekend with my 1 year old, I really feel this is a downfall of business travel. Who wants to have an experience that only you can experience? I did the “after college backpacking” thing…I’m over it, really. Besides, the sterile hotels we tend to stay in are a far cry from the shared youth hostels of my youth which provided enough material for at least a year’s worth of blog posts (not to be included here).

Another point is that there is always the “acceptable expenses” hanging over your head. I mean, who decides how much I’ll eat at breakfast vs lunch or dinner? Why is a glass of wine not acceptable as a beverage? Have you ever been to Europe?

Long hours- I think there just really isn’t a justification for travel anymore; Especially with my industry. I am more than equipped to provide my clients with remote research…In every instance other than what I am doing this week…which is  focus groups. It is really hard to run a focus group from a remote location. That being said, I can do nearly every other type of research without setting foot in the same city with the users. This makes traveling for work a vestige of a bygone era.

What about the horrible affect on the environment with the cars, trains, planes and paper created of our traveling? I thought the internet was supposed to help us decrease my carbon footprint. It doesn’t change my culpability just because “my boss asked me to go.” Lets try to leave something for the next generation, shall we?

Cisco has created the Telepresence Rooms. I’ve used them. Amazing. With these, truly, it is like being there. Really no need to travel. Until they invent the transporters of Star Trek, I vote that I stay in my home town until the family is in need of a tropical vacation.

Thoughts from fellow travelers?

Mobile Technology for Healthcare: Just what the doctor ordered?

Working on mobile applications, as well as doing usability research for healthcare organizations, I have been seeing a plethora of medical and health-oriented mobile applications. Not all of them have been well conceived or implemented, but the need is there.

This article points out not only some of the better mobile health ideas, but also what directions we may go in the future.

from UX Magazine By Amy Cueva

There’s no denying the inherent cool factor of modern mobile technology. The communication capabilities and ease of information access of the latest cell phones, smartphones, and tablet computers have unleashed our inner gadget-geeks and turned us all into thumb-typing, screen-tapping maniacs.

Morgan Stanley Research reports that mobile Internet usage is growing faster than desktop Internet usage, and will reach parity in late 2013. And last February the number of people actively using Facebook from their mobile devices leapt to over 100 million.

The reasons for this growth in mobile Internet usage may seem obvious at first: among computing technologies, mobile computing devices are typically only an arm’s reach away, making them accessible and convenient. The proliferation of specialized downloadable applications (often available at low or no cost) increases the utility of devices over time, when the reverse used to be true. Computational utility in service of high frequency, high urgency, and/or high enjoyment communication and life-management interactions contributes to smartphones being one of the most emotionally satisfying, high-touch technologies people interact with on a given day.

The appeal of mobile technologies transcends their ability to simply entertain or connect people to each other. We think they could save lives. Mobile technologies have enormous potential as tools to promote healthy behavioral change, to transform the caregiver–patient relationship, and to revolutionize the way healthcare is delivered in the U.S. and around the globe. In fact, mobile technologies are already being used to promote healthy lifestyle changes, encourage patients’ active involvement in their treatment, reduce waiting times in doctors’ offices, and improve a provider’s access to patient information, all with the goal of improving healthcare outcomes.

The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

One way mobile technologies can make life better is to reduce the amount of time we waste waiting: waiting to see our doctor, waiting for a prescription to be filled, waiting for test results.

Anyone who’s ever languished for hours at an emergency room will appreciate Portsmouth Regional Hospital‘s newest offering: text “ER” to 23000, and you’ll receive a return text with the approximate wait time to see a doctor, a physician’s assistant, or a certified nurse practitioner.

Portsmouth Regional Hospital's ER wait time widget

CVS iPhone AppDrug delivery and prescription management is another important aspect of healthcare. The drugstore chain CVS now offers its pharmacy benefit members a free iPhone app that allows them to do the following:

  • View their prescription histories
  • Research drug prices
  • Refill prescriptions
  • Check the status of orders
  • Request new prescriptions
  • Find the nearest CVS pharmacy by address or GPS proximity

Members can even pay for prescriptions through the app. Customers can easily locate their prescription histories and are verify cost decisions. CVS benefits from happier customers, automated order entry and communication, more efficient in-store transactions, and the opportunity to reduce errors and increase customer safety.

CVS iPhone App CVS iPhone App

HealthPAL mobile appWhat used to sound like science fiction is now a daily reality for some patients with high blood pressure. They use a specially designed blood pressure cuff that sends data wirelessly to a cell phone-sized transmitter called HealthPAL. The HealthPAL, in turn, sends data directly to their physicians. No more weekly blood pressure checks at the doctor’s office. Plus, patients gain peace of mind from knowing that their doctors can monitor their condition daily.

In the future, we may be able to slap on a so-called “smart Band-Aid,” a wireless sensor affixed to an adhesive strip. One of these, the Sensium from Toumaz Technology can take an ECG, blood pressure, ph-level, and a blood glucose reading. Other Band-Aid–type sensors measure heart rate and body temperature. The sensors transmit their data wirelessly directly to physicians’ smartphones.

Toumaz Sensium diagram

Promoting Positive Behavioral Change: They Get Us Going

Couch-to-5K appAt Mad*Pow, we believe in the transformative power of mobile technologies to improve communication, interaction, and foster behavioral change. Moreover, we have experienced this power first-hand. Earlier this year Megan Grocki, a Mad*Pow Senior Experience Designer, turned her iPhone into a personal trainer and got herself moving after years of exercise resolutions that just didn’t “stick.”

Megan downloaded the “Couch-to-5k” (C25K) iPhone app, which gave her daily workouts that told her when to warm up, walk, run, and cool down. The app integrated with her music library so she could run to her own soundtrack and send out daily tweets of her runs, complete with pictures shot from her iPhone. Sharing her progress on Twitter kept her focused on her goals and allowed friends and family to share her journey and offer encouragement.

Bodimojo-sourced tweetThis type of peer support is a key component of any behavioral change program. The teen health website Bodimojo leverages teens and tweens’ love of texting, talking, and tweeting to tackle the difficult problem of obesity. Teens can join Bodimojo groups, post and track their fitness goals, upload video content, and send email affirmations to their friends. Soon, they’ll be able to use their cell phones to access tools that show healthy portion sizes, support on-the-go food choices, and even help them understand how to handle their ever-changing moods.

Healthrageous, another Mad*Pow partner, promotes healthy lifestyle choices by pairing traditional strategies such as coaching and incentive programs with social network support and smartphone apps to support a “real-time, interactive, feedback-rich experience.” We’re helping them develop mobile functionality based on the psychology of gaming. It addresses our competitive desire, the way we respond to rewards, and our desire to “share the journey” with friends and family.

Better. Stronger. Faster.

Pokewalker deviceCompetition is often a driver of behavioral change. Runners use the Nike+ Sport Kit and shoes to track their time, pace, distance, and calories burned. And now, the makers of Pokémon are turning walkers into winners, getting Nintendo DS addicts off the couch and onto their feet with their new “Pokéwalker” pedometer. Players can transfer a Pokémon from their game device to the pedometer. Every time the player takes a step, the Pokémon gains experience points and the player earns “watts,” which can be exchanged for special items and other Pokémon.

Though these examples clearly show how health-related mobile applications can support positive behavioral change, they remain underutilized. This may be due to some of the challenges that are inherent in the mobile healthcare consumer space. The first challenge is to make the utility and value of the app very clear, so people can’t wait to use it. Next is to persuade the user to interact on a regular basis. This requires getting to the core of what drives the user’s engagement with the app, and delivering information or utility that will get them coming back for more.

Tapping the Power

Mobile technologies inform and engage us. They appeal to our natural desire to connect with each other. And they help bridge the digital divide, making it easier to reach populations who don’t have access to desktop or laptop computers.

Our clients come to us at different points along the path toward visioning and executing their mobile strategy. We guide them through a research and strategy process that will deliver a clear plan for mobile:

  • Organizational Objectives: What are the goals of your organization? What user behaviors are you hoping to elicit or change? How would success for your organization look and feel?
  • Technical Assessment: How are your current web properties performing on the major mobile platforms? Can platform specific style sheets or adjustment improve the baseline mobile experience as a starting point?
  • Heuristic, Competitive, and Market Analysis: What does your current mobile presence consist of? What are your competitors up to? Others in the industry? Like minded organizations in different industries?
  • Foundational Research: What high frequency, high urgency, or high enjoyment tasks will your target users bring to the mobile experience? What will your users expect in a mobile experience? How will those tasks and expectations differ from desktop usage?
  • Determining Focus: Considering organizational objectives and research insights, where are the biggest areas of opportunity? Brainstorm:
    • Mobile site: How can the web properties be focused for mobile?
    • Platform specific applications: How can the native abilities of the platform (gyroscope, GPS, etc.) be leveraged to improve the experience?
    • SMS & MMS: Will the user be able to get information or interact via text message?
    • Social media and other channels: What type of coordination is possible with phone interactions, desktop web interactions, email interactions, and social media interactions considering inbound and outbound, proactive and reactive flows.
  • Rollout Plan: Determine how the mobile vision can be incrementally executed upon, measured, and refined.

There are well-known challenges inherent to developing mobile technologies. Conducting research with end-users and designing applications with them in mind are paramount to overcoming those challenges, as is understanding context and usage issues specific to each set of users and designing solutions to fit. But perhaps most importantly is having the ability to envision sustainable solutions to long-standing problems.

Mobile technology is part of a thread that runs through all aspects of our lives. It can be a conduit for information, streamline communication, and connect individuals, patients, and care providers in countless ways that promote good health and enhance well-being. For today’s true innovators mobile is more than just a part of the thread—it’s their cornerstone.

Give Yourself a 6th Sense for $350

Several years ago, I found TED and started watching amazing 18 minute videos of people changing the world.

One of the most amazing videos I saw

(and posted) was of Pattie Maes of MIT’s Media Labs showing what her graduate student, Pranav Mistry, had created; a 6th Sense hardware that was cobbled together from existing technology, along with a software program that allowed you to have a mobile virtual multi-touch gestural interface that was a predecessor of the augmented reality applications we have seen developing for the smartphones over the last few years. Continue reading