What Consumers Most Want from Health Insurers’ Technology

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People don’t crave the latest fitness wearable. Their overwhelming preference is for simple applications that provide and organize information.


Why I’m Breaking Up With the Apple Watch

Photo by Earl Wilson, for the New York Times

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I do not want to be defined by a talking point on my wrist… when I started wearing the Apple Watch (the 38-millimeter case with a Milanese Loop band, which is the smaller size with a flexible stainless steel bracelet), it became a subject of conversation no matter where I was: in meetings at work, at the bagel store, at my son’s track meet. It has been so everywhere, marketed to so many people, there was just no mistaking it.

First everyone wanted to know about it. Then they wanted to try it. Then they made certain assumptions about me.

…“Why is that more embarrassing than endlessly looking at a phone?” my friends said when I complained.

It’s a valid question, but after some contemplation I think the answer is simple: A phone is hand-held, and we are used to seeing people read things held in their hands. Like, say, books. But seeing somebody staring at her wrist (or merely sneaking a surreptitious glance at it) telegraphs something else entirely: (1) rudeness or (2) geekiness.

Life After Cancer: How the iPhone Helped Me Achieve a Healthier Lifestyle

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…This tiny computer, in its obviousness and unsurprising advancements, keeps me in check and tells me what I often forget about – that I should get up and go. From a technological perspective, Apple’s Health and the apps I use are solid and useful; from a conceptual standpoint, watching that step count go up and up is a reminder that I’m free.

…I can track and optimize my lifestyle with an iPhone. An entire ecosystem of apps, services, and devices capable of monitoring my nutrition, weight, fitness activity, and even sleep uses my iPhone as the central, private hub that I control. On the iPhone, everything is collected and visualized by a single Health app, which can be connected to more apps. As a cancer survivor who wants to improve his lifestyle because of a newfound appreciation of life, all this is incredible.

…Tracking my life with my iPhone makes my commitment real and the effects directly measurable. Being able to open an app and be coached through workout sessions or use my phone to track steps and runs is empowering. iPhone software has enriched my lifestyle and it has allowed me to be more conscious in my daily choices.

The United States of Metrics

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Given our new obsessions with numbers, you’re probably eager for some statistics to back up this argument…  In any event, here goes:

HEALTH Sixty-nine percent of Americans track their weight, diet or exercise, while a third track their blood pressure, sleep patterns and headaches. The market for digital fitness devices brought in $330 million last year and is expected to double this year. Samsung just added a heart-rate monitor to its popular Galaxy line of phones. The No. 1 paid app on iTunes this spring is the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock, which monitors the amount and quality of winks you get and wakes you during a light phase of your cycle. The app is the top seller in every G-8 country.

…LIFESTYLE The Quantified Self movement utilizes life-logging, wearable computing and other techniques to assemble what it calls “self-knowledge through numbers.” New York University just announced that it has teamed with Hudson Yards to create the nation’s first “quantified community.” Electronic monitors will collect data on such things as pedestrian traffic, air quality, energy consumption, composting compliance, even the physical activity of residents in order to build a “smart community.” The app Reporter pings you several times a day and asks you questions like “Where are you?,” “Who are you with?” and “What did you learn today?” The service then creates a graph of your life.

How One Simple Bracelet Boosted an Entire Country’s Blood Donations by 335%

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Y&R Moscow recently partnered with Azerbaijani cellular network Nar Mobile to create a wearable device called Donor Cable, which lets one smartphone owner easily donate power to another. Worn as a bracelet, the charging device is clever enough, but it’s also inscribed with the message, “Donate energy to save a phone, and donate blood to save a life.”

Why encourage blood donation specifically? As you can see in the case study below, Azerbaijan has the world’s highest number of children born with the blood disorder thalassemia, a hereditary disease primarily found among Mediterranean cultures.