KardiaBand is the Apple Watch band that can run EKGs and detect irregular heartbeats

Kardia Band is the wearable EKG monitor that can detect dangerous heart patterns.
Image: alivecor

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Listen up, Apple Watch users: A new FDA-approved band is on the market and it can help you monitor your heart in a whole new way.

Yes, you can feel when your heart is beating fast after a run or a nerve-racking situation — but most of us aren’t doctors and can’t tell whether this is normal or an actual problem. Detecting when a heart has a truly irregular rhythm by yourself is a toss up, and the only way to confirm an atrial fibrillation (AFib) is to get an electrocardiogram (EKG) from a cardiologist. 

AliveCor is a company known for their mobile heart monitors that can be stuck on the back of a smartphone and run an EKG. After two years of testing, AliveCor was given the green light by the FDA to market the KardiaBand as a heart-monitoring wristband for the Apple Watch.

According to a study conducted by heart doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, researchers found that the band’s algorithm correctly distinguished AFib hearts from normal functioning hearts over 90 percent of the time. Basically, this means that the KardiaBand can give people an instant and pretty accurate idea of whether they have something to worry about — an analysis that could only previously be done during a trip to the doctor. 

Here’s how the KardiaBand runs a 30-second EKG:

What’s the big deal about irregular heart beats, you ask? If the abnormality is serious and not caught early, irregular rhythms can cause stroke, blood clots, or heart disease — so heart rhythm really isn’t something to be ignored.

This isn’t to say that AFib is always a life or death situation — not every too-fast or too-slow heart is an emergency, so don’t freak out. However, many people are deterred from going to the doctor because they don’t want to admit something is wrong, and overlooking possible AFib risks can lead to serious consequences. But thanks to KardiaBand, EKGs can now be done in the comfort of your own home. (Note: A doctor’s analysis should still be sought out if the band tells you something’s up.)

Mashable’s Mark Kaufman writes:

As more health and fitness devices are designed to work with popular consumer tech, like Apple iPhones and smartwatches, it’s helpful that doctors are scrutinizing some of these devices to ensure they work as advertised — even after they pass the FDA’s rigorous protocols. 

For $199, you can get a 38mm or 42mm KardiaBand here — and if you want the KardiaBand but don’t have an Apple Watch yet, you can snag the Apple Watch 3 here. If you don’t have an Apple Watch and don’t want an Apple Watch, AliveCor’s mobile EKG monitors for smartphones are also up for grabs for $99.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/28/kardiaband-apple-watch-irregular-heart-rhythm/

Subway launches loyalty program with surprise rewards and a confusing token system

Mmm bread.

Subway, the world’s largest fast food chain, is launching a new loyalty program, called Subway MyWay Rewards, that will offer customers surprise treats and tokens that eventually mature into dollars.

The move is a step toward earning more customer love, as well as making the Subway experience more digital — since it comes with a mobile app refresh. 

Subway MyWay Rewards launches in the U.S. and Canada in March and will be available at 28,500 restaurants. With Subway’s scale, it’ll be one of the largest loyalty programs in the world, though MyWay is far from Subway’s first effort in this arena. For example, the chain previously offered free meals with a punch card system called Sub Club. That was discontinued in 2005 in part due to fraud, as Wired reported. The new system tries to avoid that by making it all mobile. 

“We really designed the program with the consumer in mind. You don’t have to read the fine print,” Subway’s Chief Digital Officer Carissa Ganelli told Mashable of MyWay Rewards. 

Here’s a look at Subway’s new mobile app for tracking rewards: 

Image: subway

Image: subway

Subway’s offer of surprises is easy to understand and sounds a lot like Panera Bread’s MyPanera, but the tokens are a bit more complicated. (Fortunately, they aren’t related to cryptocurrency or ICOs or anything like that.) Call them points, if that helps. 

Here’s how the tokens system works:

  • For every dollar customers spend at Subway they earn 4 tokens

  • Reach 200 tokens and receive $2.00 in Subway credit 

So, if Subway customers wanted to maybe earn enough tokens to cover an entire Subway sandwich. Let’s just say one that costs about $6.00. That’s 600 tokens, which means spending $150. Yeah, it’s not easy, but we’re talking about free sandwiches here. The rewards also can be applied to cookies, drinks, salads, soups, or whatever else they’re serving up at Subway. 

Thankfully, keeping track of rewards is pretty easy. MyWay Rewards members can look them up on Subway’s website, the mobile app, or ask in-person at a Subway location. 

The program’s structure is what the people — at least those who Subway surveyed — asked for, according to Ganelli. 

“The $2 threshold was something that’s going to absolutely enable us to reward our members more frequently,” Ganelli said. 

In addition to instituting a $2 reward, Subway gleamed from its customer surveys that people want surprise rewards. 

“You won’t know when you’ve earned our reward until you’ve earned it,” Ganelli said and shared an example of me earning a free drink and being notified via Subway’s mobile app. “That’s awesome. I got a present today because who doesn’t like surprises of delicious stuff?”

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/22/subway-myway-loyalty-program-rewards/

iMessage and FaceTime goes down for users in Australia

Some Australian users weren't able to use iMessage or Facetime.
Image: lili sams/mashable

Well, this is odd.

Some customers of Australian carrier Telstra were unable to use iMessage and FaceTime on Wednesday morning, as technicians worked to fix the issue with the two Apple services.

The carrier’s outages page confirmed the problem. In a tweet, Telstra said customers could continue to send and receive SMS messages, but later stated those services were coming back to normal.

“Earlier today some customers experienced a disruption to Apple iMessage and FaceTime services. We worked with Apple to resolve this issue. Services are now being progressively being restored. We apologise for any inconvenience caused,” a Telstra spokesperson said via email.

One Twitter user, Nikolai Hampton, reported that Apple’s servers were not reachable by Telstra. 

Hampton suggested updating the phone’s DNS to get access to different servers, while another user Nathan Bujega, said a VPN would get around the problem.

Wednesday’s outage is not helped by the fact the iMessage app bundles SMS and iMessage services together, leading Telstra to instruct users how to force send an SMS message.

Apple’s iMessage has a history of not playing well with carriers. 

As the service gained popularity, those who switched from iOS and forgot to turn off iMessage reported missing messages, something that’s arguably been a headache for carriers.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/20/telstra-imessage-facetime-outage/

The FDA just cleared an Apple Watch band that measures your heart’s electrical activity

The AliveCor Kardia Band
Image: Alivecor

The Federal Drug Administration just cleared a new band for the Apple Watch that monitors the electrical rhythms in your heart. 

After a two-year process to satisfy the FDA’s stringent requirements, AliveCor announced today that the Kardia Band is now available for purchase for $199. It’s a mobile electrocardiogram (EKG), which measures a heart’s electrical activity and has traditionally been used by doctors to identify abnormal cardiac rhythms. 

“It’s a regulated measure of physiology by the FDA. Doctors can recognize over 100 conditions when they see an EKG,” AliveCor CEO Vic Gundotra told Mashable

But unlike conventional EKGs, this is one that you wear on your wrist. The heart rhythms display on the Apple Watch, and it takes about 30 seconds to collect the electrical signals. What’s more, the watch will notify the user when they might potentially be experiencing a common heart arrhythmia called Atrial fibrillation, or AFib. 

“It used to take a cardiologist, and you’d have to take off your shirt,” said Gundotra. “Now you can do it while at your kid’s soccer game. You can know in half a minute what’s going on in your heart.”

After being scrutinized by the FDA, Gundotra is confident the device accurately and reliably measures electrical heart activity.

“We had to prove that our algorithms are effective as a board of human cardiologists,” he said, noting that the stack of FDA regulatory papers “might be taller than me.”

We had to prove that our algorithms are effective as a board of human cardiologists

The Kardia Band can be especially useful for patients who suffer from AFib, Gordon Tomaselli, chief of the division of cardiology at John Hopkins University, told Mashable. “AFib may not be dangerous, however, it is associated with increased risk of blood clots in hearts,” he explained. “It also turns out to be a common cause of stroke that occurs for no obvious reason.”

“I think it’s a useful adjunct and useful for some patients,” he added. “And there are some people that want to know [they’re experiencing AFib] — and for those folks this is a great solution.”

Still, Tomaselli cautioned the Kardia Band might not be the best option for every single patient. 

“I think if you have a serious cardiac disease you should not be completely reliant on this to make a diagnosis,” said Tomaselli. “It is always best to make sure that your health care provider has a look at the rhythms.”

Most of all, he emphasized,If you don’t feel well, you need to see someone. Symptoms trump any recording.”

Besides watching for AFib, the Kardia Band is also infused with AI technology, a deep-learning tool the company calls “SmartRhythm Monitoring.” This program, however, doesn’t monitor heart rhythms. Instead, it watches your heart rate. The AI system checks your heart rate every five seconds, and will, based up your activity over the previous 30 minutes, notify you when your heart rate is pumping abnormally fast. 

For instance, the Kardia Band will alert you if your heart rate spikes, even though you might be idly sitting in a car.

“It worked on me when a cop pulled me over,” said AliveCor’s CEO, Gundotra. “We’re looking for things that don’t match our predictions.”

So for anyone that’s interested in better understanding their heart — both it’s rhythms and heart rate behavior — the Kardia Band can serve as a helpful tool. 

“It’s neat technology and there’s going to be more and more of this,” said Tomaselli. “I think some of this is going to be very useful not just in diagnosing things but helping, for those interested, to maintain their best cardiovascular health and fitness.”

And AliveCor’s Gundotra, after working through a tedious FDA approval process, feels the system validates this new technology. “We are very lucky to have such a strict regulatory body,” he said. “You can’t make ridiculous claims in this country.”

Every editorial product is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our journalism.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/30/fda-clears-alivcor-kardia-band-for-apple-watch/

How innovation has pushed ergonomics beyond efficiency

Image: pexels

Ergonomics is a science that examines the interactions between humans and the objects they use. This involves designing and arranging objects so that humans can interact with them as efficiently and safely as they can.

The practice of ergonomics is particularly important in the workplace, and through things like adjustable desk chairs and keyboard wrist rests, employers provide safer and more efficient environments for their employees. In addition to reducing injuries and improving overall safety, workplace ergonomics can increase productivity by 11 percent on average. And since ergonomic practices improve the quality of an office environment, this often results in happier employees.   

So if our workplaces are becoming more and more optimized, why can’t we think about the rest of our daily activities in the same way?

Ergonomics began as a way to bring more safety and efficiency into people’s lives, but modern technology has allowed for innovation to play a role in ergonomics and extend the practice to our homes and everyday lives. Companies are making an effort to create products that provide unique and valuable experiences for consumers. Because oftentimes, these experiences are so common in our day-to-day lives that we forget we could be optimizing them.  

Automatic optimal lighting 

Something you might not think about when it comes to ergonomics is your environment’s lighting. But poor lighting, especially when looking at a computer screen for long periods of time, can cause strain to your eyes and bodies. F.lux is a software that automatically adjusts your computer’s screen color to its most optimal setting. The technology makes your computer screen warm at night and like sunlight during the day, so that your screen always adapts to your surroundings no matter what time it is. 

Image: pexels

Personalized posture improvement

When you can’t avoid sitting for long periods of time, it’s important to maintain good posture so that your neck and back muscles don’t suffer unnecessary strain. Upright makes this easier by providing immediate posture feedback. Simply place the wearable device on your back and it will send gentle vibrations to remind you to sit up straight if you are slouching. You can also track your progress with their app and set daily goals for yourself through a personalized training program.

A desk that adjusts for you

Whether you sit at a desk all day at work or find yourself sitting for long periods of time at a table or desk at home, we spend a lot of our lives sitting. Research has found that standing for a few hours each day helps reduce the risk of things like heart disease, back pain, and obesity. While taking a break to walk around the office or simply stand up can help, technology has fueled even more possible solutions. 

Companies like Evodesk are creating mechanical standing desks that are designed with the user in mind. With the press of a button you can choose from more than 250 different sitting and standing positions to find the one that suits your needs in that moment. The desk moves one and a half inches per second, so you’ll never feel like you’re waiting for the technology to catch up to you.

Image: volvo

A car made with you in mind

We usually think of ergonomics in the office or at home, but these practices can be extended to our cars as well. Given that ergonomics is all about maximizing the interaction between people and their environment, vehicles are the next frontier for ergonomics powered by connected technology.   

The new Volvo XC60 was designed with human-centric features that make driving more efficient and safe without sacrificing luxury and style. The center display makes navigation and entertainment seamless with intuitive control options and a larger display so you don’t need to scroll to see the details of your route. And the car’s seats were designed by orthopedic surgeons to complement the human form. The seat cushions are adjustable so that they maximize comfort and support, and were designed to absorb energy and thus protect your spine in the event of an accident or sudden movement. 

The XC60 also features an entire suite of safety technologies, called IntelliSafe, which makes driving more comfortable and helps prevent accidents. City Safety is at the core of this safety technology, identifying other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and large animals ahead of you, warning you of any hazards, and braking the car automatically if you don’t react in time. There are also automatic steering adjustments and braking to help avoid collisions with oncoming traffic and prevent your car from leaving the road. The car’s Blind Spot Information System alerts you of vehicles alongside you, and its Driver Alert Control recognizes if you’re tired or distracted and may suggest taking a break.

Even though the study of ergonomics began with the simple goal of making people’s lives more efficient and safe, innovative products, devices, and vehicles like the Volvo XC60 use technology to elevate a user’s experience. From office furniture to household products to the cars we drive, technology is constantly changing how we think about the items we interact with every day—and how those interactions can be as seamless as possible.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/22/innovative-ergonomic-products/

Oxford city center could be electric vehicle-only by 2030

The dreaming spires could soon be the first to benefit from being in a 'Zero Emission Zone'
Image: Shutterstock / elesi

A lot can happen in three years, but banning combustion engines from a major city centre? That seems a bit of a stretch.

Oxford City and Oxfordshire County Council have proposed plans to rid the city centre of all diesel- and petrol-fuelled vehicles — buses and taxis included — by 2020. This could potentially make Oxford centre the very first Zero Emission Zone, and the council also wants to expand this Zero Emission Zone twice more, in 2025 and 2030. 

The council cites the health risks caused by pollution as the reason behind this bold proposal. In a statement, Oxford council says, “Oxford city centre currently has illegally-high levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide, which contributes to diseases including cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease – and contributes to around 40,000 deaths in the UK every year.”

The council projects that this new plan will lead to a 74% reduction in nitrogen dioxide on the centre’s most polluted street by 2035.

The City Council had already made some headway, as they state in their press release that they have won £500,000 in government funding to install charging points for electric taxis, and a further £800,000 for charging points for use by Oxford residents.

However, as optimistic as this plan may seem, The Memo picked up on a slight catch.

The area that would be covered by the 2020 no-emission zone is incredibly small, and already contains “very little traffic,” according to the Oxford Zero Emission Zone Feasibility and Implementation Study. It notes that implementing the diesel and petrol ban in this area “would potentially have little overall effect on air quality”.

The 2020 area only covers 3 roads, and they’re not particularly busy thoroughfares.

On the other hand, three years is not a long time to adapt a city centre to electric vehicles, so changes would have to be incremental. 

TheOxford Zero Emission Zone Feasibility and Implementation Study also suggests that the council could incentivise people to switch to electric vehicles by offering free EV (electric vehicle) parking in 2020 and then introducing EV-only parking areas in 2025.

James McKemey at Pod Point, a company which installs EV charging points, believes that the real incentive to switch to EV won’t come so much from the public sector, than from consumer experience. He told us that government grants and tax breaks encouraging the purchase of electric cars are “small incentives which are helpful in the early days […] but ultimately the real incentive to drive an electric vehicle will be that they are fundamentally better.” 

He also thinks that Oxford City Council’s 2020 goal isn’t an unreasonable target, given that EV battery pack prices have recently become far more affordable at a rate that is “far beyond what we expected”.

So from this point of view Oxford centre wouldn’t be forcing a change to electric vehicles so much as keeping up with a trend.

However, this doesn’t mean that enforcement won’t be an issue. Oxford council’s study recommends the implementation of Automatic Number Plate Recognition to help identify anyone infringing on the Zero Emission Zone, regardless of the “illuminated signs” they would put up.

The plans are still only a proposal, and from Monday Oxford residents will have six weeks of public consultation to voice their opinions about their town going electric. Lovely though the plans to reduce pollution sound, they’re bound to make disrupt life for local businesses, as well as the few Oxford professors who don’t ride to work on penny farthings. 

There goes the history department.

Image: Laura De Meo/REX/Shutterstock

Of course if Oxford does go electric, it will make for much more environmentally friendly car chases on Lewis. And what about Endeavour? Hard to say.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/13/oxford-city-centre-zero-emission-zone-2020/