For this week's awesome stuff post, we're looking at three crowdfunding projects that could help people stay healthy.
First up, the super impressive Scanadu Scout, what they refer to as a "medical tricorder." Honestly, this is the kind of thing that it feels like should have been on the market ages ago. A simple consumer device that you can use to quickly scan and record a variety of medical "vital signs," access them on your phone and even send to your doctor.
The device looks pretty cool, and I'm not the only one to think so. They put it up with a $100,000 goal, and it's well over $1.6 million dollars. If you want in on the crowdfunding part, though, order now, because their campaign closes tonight.
There are lots of fitness trackers out there these days. And while the Fitbit probably leads the pack in awesomeness, some folks are trying to take things to the next level with the Sensoria Smart Sock Fitness Tracker. It's a special sock plus anklet gadget that you attach to the socks. It measures all the same things that regular trackers do (though, potentially with more accuracy), but goes even further -- such as telling you if your running cadence is off, or if you're landing too much on your heels. Basically, it's trying to take the fitness tracker up a level.
This one is pretty near its goal of $87,000 already, and still has nearly four weeks left, so it'll almost certainly pass its goal. Personally, knowing the rate I go through socks, I wonder if it will get prohibitively expensive if you have to keep buying more of the "smart socks," which appear to run a staggering $20 per pair. Also, the prototype anklet looks huge, though they promise the production device will be smaller. Still, in an age when people are looking to measure everything they do, here's another tool that measures even more.
The last one isn't quite a health/fitness thing, but I could see how it might be used to increase health. It's an omnidirectional treadmill device (plus the special shoes needed to use it) called the WizDish -- which allows you to basically "run" or "walk" while playing video games. In this age of Wii and Kinect where we've finally moved video gaming beyond the "sit on the couch and play" stage, this tries to take it up another level by letting you feel more like you're actually walking or running around rather than being tethered to one spot. You kind of have to watch the video to understand the point:
Of course, as you'll see, this has the feeling of a product where the creator spent an awful lot of time on the engineering aspect, but not nearly enough on the marketing/design aspect. The device looks kinda cheap and flimsy, and the production value of the campaign feels like it could have been done much better. On top of that, the whole thing feels a bit pricey -- and when you realize that you also need to add a VR headset (which most people probably don't have), it might not feel worth it. Perhaps that's why it's only got a little more than 12% raised of its £50,000 goal with just a week to go. Chances are this isn't getting funded. It's too bad, because the concept could be cool, but the folks who created it may want to team up with someone with some more experience in marketing these kinds of accessories.
By now, one hopes that you've seen the incredibly creative video that the band Ok Go did for the song "Here It Goes Again." The video, filmed in a single take, has the four band members dancing across a series of treadmills. Yet, as William Patry points out, there may be a bit of a dispute coming over the concept. Apparently, a television commercial for some vitamin supplement in the UK is making use of folks dancing on treadmills to a different song after taking the supplement. It's clear that the idea is from the band's video, as the moves are even the same. An article in The Scotsman suggests that legal action is brewing, noting that "There was extensive negotiation to use Ok Go (by the JWT advertising agency on behalf of Berocca's manufacturer Bayer] but this didn't bear fruit."
Of course, there's nothing definitive about the band taking action -- and it seems unlikely that the band would actually do anything about this. The band's members have been very vocal about technology and intellectual property issues (in a good way), including writing NY Times op-ed pieces and testifying before Congress. The band has also been very open and encouraging of getting fans to copy their videos (the band has some other popular videos as well). While the band might have a claim on the identical choreography aspect (you can't copyright an idea, but you can on the expression of that idea), it seems like no good would come from such a complaint. It would certainly only help the vitamin supplement company. Instead, hopefully, the band recognizes that this is, indeed, the sincerest form of flattery, and the attention the vitamin ad generates will likely only increase the number of folks who seek out the Ok Go video (and become fans of Ok Go's music).