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Cybex starts selling its $330, app-enabled car seat made for safety geeks

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Normally, I wouldn’t be writing about a car seat for TechCrunch but as I’ve been in the market for such an item lately (and have been hit up for all things baby tech as my due date nears) the high-tech Cybex Sirona M with SensorSafe 2.0 stood out.

Cybex is manufactured in Germany and is a mostly European brand that’s gaining momentum in the U.S. market. Its newest carseat in the family (the aforementioned Sirona M) is made to give parents and caregivers piece of mind using technology.

Some of the techy features include Bluetooth monitoring and an app to alert parents when a caregiver may have left the kid in the car, the kid has unbuckled their seatbelt while the car is moving or if their baby is in danger of overheating.

Parents will get an alert in the form of a chime though an installed vehicle receiver if something is wrong while driving — like your child unbuckles their clip. Should the parent not be with the child, they will be sent an alert via the app. So, for example, if someone watching their kid forgets the kid in the car for even a few minutes, the designated emergency contact (usually the primary caregiver) will be alerted on the app and given GPS coordinates to locate the vehicle.

The car seat also monitors vehicle temperature so it can tell parents if their child is in danger of overheating and possibly dying due to a hot car.

Other features include:
• Adjustable side-impact protection that can pop back into the seat when more room is needed in the back seat.
• Magnetic belt holders for easy entry and exit from the seat
• Rear-facing installation from 5  to 40 pounds, or forward facing from 22 to 65 pounds.
• Energy absorbing shell to help reduce forces felt by the baby in a collision
• 12-position, height-adjustable headrest with an integrated no-rethread harness for protection that grows with your child
• Cozy harness pads with anti-slip backing and comfort padded buckle cover
• Comes with a removable newborn insert
• Installs using LATCH or the vehicle seat belt for a safe and secure connection to the vehicle seat

This car seat does not connect to any travel systems. For those not in the loop (I was not until recently), a travel system would be a car seat able to attach to a stroller and given the ability to transport baby from stroller to car and vice versa.

I did not end up getting the Cybex Sirona M. Instead, I went with the Uppababy Mesa car seat for both the design features and ability to easily attach to the Uppababy Vista stroller. However, when I asked Cybex’s VP of product during a recent demo of the Sirona M about incorporating SensorSafe tech into other car seat models with travel system capabilities in the future, he smiled and hinted that could be the case.

The Sirona M can hold kids up to 65 pounds (approximately four years old), is priced at $330 and is available online in several retail outlets, including Amazon and buybuy Baby, starting today.

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Health

RightEye’s portable eye-tracking test catches concussions and reading problems in five minutes

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They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, but physiologically speaking, they’re really windows to the brain.

RightEye looks through that window to detect common but often subtle vision issues resulting from concussions and other brain troubles. Its quick, portable eye-tracking station can tell in minutes whether you should see a doctor — or look into becoming a pro ball player.

It turns out there’s quite a lot you can tell from how someone’s eyes move. We may not notice it ourselves, but we all vary in how and how well we execute a number of basic tasks, from flicking our eyes back and forth to smoothly tracking a moving target. For instance, your eyes may over-correct, fail to line up correctly, or track up or down when moving along a straight line.

For healthy individuals, these variations fall within a safe range, just part of the ordinary differences between bodies. But certain patterns well outside the baseline can be strong indicators of things like concussions and eye muscle problems — and even Parkinson’s and Autism-spectrum conditions.

RightEye tracks these movements with a custom device that looks a bit like an all-in-one desktop; it uses a Tobii eye-tracking module built into a single-purpose computer loaded with a library of simple tests. A basic EyeQ (as they call it) test takes five minutes or so, with more specialized tests adding only a few more, and results are available immediately.

To give you an idea: one test in game form has you defending a space station, destroying incoming ships by looking at them. But certain colored ships you must not destroy — meaning you have to detect them in your peripheral vision and avoid looking at them. In another test, you flick your eyes rapidly between two targets appearing on opposite sides of the screen, demonstrating accuracy and functioning saccades (micro-corrections made by your eye muscles).

Each eye is tracked independently, and their performance as a matched pair is evaluated instantly. An easy-to-understand results sheet shows their actual movements and how (if at all) they deviate from the baseline.

It’s compact and can run on battery for some 8 hours, making it ideal for deployment outside hospitals or the like: anywhere from school nurse’s office to the sidelines of an NFL game, even in the home.

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I tested the device out myself at CES (my vision is just OK, but I want a rematch), and later chatted with Barbara Barclay, RIghtEye’s President. The two most exciting applications of the technology, as judged by her enthusiasm anyway, are in identifying vision-related cognitive problems in kids and in creating a sort of eye fitness test for sporting persons.

Say a child is having trouble learning to read, or perhaps can’t pay attention in class. The immediate thought these days is frequently ADD. But it’s more than a little possible that it’s a vision problem. A subtle difference in how the eyes track, perhaps one going off the horizontal when tracking a line of text, could easily make reading on the page or blackboard frustrating or even painful. What 3rd-grade kid would keep at it?

A reading-focused test tracks how the eyes move along a line of text.

This isn’t some groundbreaking new idea — but reliably and objectively evaluating individual eye movements was only something you could do if you went to see a specialist, perhaps after other explanations for a behavior didn’t pan out. RightEye’s test practically runs itself and can detect or eliminate the possibility of vision problems in minutes. Honestly, I think a kid might even find it fun.

Barclay has personal experience with this, her own daughter having had health issues that only after multiple false starts were found to have their root in a relatively simple vision problem the system indicated.

In 2016, RightEye acquired the rights to a pair of tests based on research linking eye movement patterns to Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, as well as Autism spectrum conditions. It’s not a magic bullet, but again, the quick and easy nature of the tests make them ideal for routine screening.

The Autism spectrum test is for children aged only 1 to 3, and watches eye movements between images of people and images of geometric shapes. Lingering on the shapes more than the people, it turns out, is a good indicator that at the very least the kid should receive further testing.

The Parkinson’s and Huntington’s tests watch for the more well understood patterns that accompany the motor degeneration found in those afflictions. They can be administered to people of any age and have (using earlier eye-tracking setups) contributed to many identifications of the diseases.

On a very different, but perhaps more immediately remunerative, note, Barclay told me that the test also works as a way to find outliers on the other end: people with what amounts to super-vision.

It’s entirely possible that someone could take the test and their results will show that they have faster, more accurate saccades, quicker target acquisition, and better continuous object tracking than the baseline. That’s a heck of an asset to have if you’re batting, fielding, goalkeeping, playing tight end — pretty much anything, really.

Examples of a healthy eye movement report (left) and concussed one (right).

It’s also a heck of an asset to have if you’re a scout or coach. If Lopez is catching great on the left side of the field but not the right, you can look into the possibility that he’s having trouble tracking the ball when looking over his left shoulder, his eyes all the way to the right.

Not only that, but you can test for effects of concussions or other traumas right there on the field if they’re having trouble. Given how widespread such injuries are and the immense danger of repeated concussions, testing early and often could literally save lives.

Right now, Barclay told me, 7 MLB teams are using RightEye tech for player assessments. As for the medical side of things, she said the company currently has 200 clients. The new hardware should help boost that number.

Perhaps more importantly, it has the backing (and therefore clout) of VSP, the country’s largest vision insurance company. That’s both a tremendous vote of confidence and a major in — nothing gets people using a system faster than knowing it’s covered by their existing insurance.

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What! A ban imposed on Ministers to have sex with their staff

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The prime minister on Thursday imposed a formal ban on sex between ministers and their staff

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The Apple Watch can detect diabetes with an 85% accuracy, Cardiogram study says

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According to Cardiogram founder Brandon Ballinger’s latest clinical study, the Apple Watch can detect diabetes in those previously diagnosed with the disease with an 85 percent accuracy.

The study is part of the larger DeepHeart study with Cardiogram and UCSF. This particular study used data from 14,000 Apple Watch users and was able to detect that 462 of them had diabetes by using the Watch’s heart rate sensor, the same type of sensor other fitness bands using Android Wear also integrate into their systems.

In 2015, the Framingham Heart Study showed that resting heart rate and heart rate variability significantly predicted incident diabetes and hypertension. This led to the impetus to use the Watch’s heart rate sensor to see if it could accurately detect a diabetic patient.

Previously, Ballinger and his colleagues were able to use Apple’s Watch to detect an abnormal heart rhythm with up to a 97 percent accuracy, sleep apnea with a 90 percent accuracy and hypertension with an 82 percent accuracy when paired with Cardiograms AI-based algorithm. All discoveries so far have been published in clinical journals and Ballinger intends to publish these latest findings shortly after presenting at the AAAI 2018 conference this week.

Diabetes is a huge — and growing — problem in the U.S. More than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with pre-diabetes or diabetes and more than 1 in 4 of them go undiagnosed, according to the CDC. Part of the problem is the pain that goes into checking blood glucose levels. A patient must prick themselves after every meal and correctly take the right amount of insulin to keep themselves in balance.

Early detection could also help in cutting down on diabetes-related diseases before they get out of hand. While there have been other attempts to build special-purpose glucose-sensing hardware, this is the first large-scale study showing that ordinary heart rate sensors—when paired with an artificial intelligence-based algorithm—can identify diabetes with no extra hardware.

So what’s next? Ballinger and his cohort on the study Johnson Hsieh mentioned they could be looking at a number of diseases to detect through heart sensors, possibly even gestational diabetes. Hsieh also cautions that those tested were already known to have diabetes or pre-diabetes and that anyone who thinks they might have it should go to their doctor, not just rely on the Watch to tell them what’s going on.

But the results are promising. We’ll just have to wait and see what else the Apple Watch and other fitness monitors with a built-in heart rate sensor are able to tell us about ourselves next.

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