All posts in “wellness”

Recap: Wired Health Conference 2013

(Written as part of Fjord IxD writing, shared with Fjord U.S.A and re-posted in Fjord Blog)

I was lucky to attend WIRED Health Conference on Wednesday and it was really interesting that I feel like I must share what I’ve learned.

Interesting Projects


  • Theranos – accessible blood test
  • MC10 – flexible electronics
  • – evidence based medicine summary (UGLY WEBSITE, GREAT CONTENT)
  • Ubiome – participatory microbiome study


  • Theranos offers accessible blood test. At Walgreens (coming soon) you can extract your TINY blood sample and get the result within a few hours. This improved experience improves engagements. No fear of needle and no worry of time allow people to get faster cure, more frequent sampling, and faster medication adjustments and so on. But it’s more than just the sampling experience (touch point). They figured out the pricing (same price for anyone with or wi/o insurance), and improved sample handling process to reduce human errors (93% of errors in labs.)  It’s a real example of ‘service design win’ in many levels – I love this service.theranos
  • MC10 is the company behind flexible electronics, big hardware improvement in wearables. Their first commercial product (partnered with Reebok) Checklight is a hat with head impact indicator that you can wear underneath your helmet. Especially for youth sports the shock in heads can be critical, but sometimes they get put back to games without knowing the damage. They also developed Biostamp, sensors that can be attached to your body. The potential use cases can be MANY including baby monitor that’s ON the baby’s skin.reebok_checklight
  • The founder of (The Number Needed to Treat) is a big advocate for NO FREE LUNCH. Every drug has side effects and often the harmful side effects exceed the benefits. E.g., People take statin to reduce cholesterol, but it can cause diabetes. At you can find evidence based drug information (not from the pharma companies) as well as get personalised drug dosage instruction based on your basic health appraisal (weight/height/gender/age)

I know they need some design expertise and it’s painful for us to look at this site, but it’s built upon a great intention and a good resource for you 🙂

  • Ubiome is a group of young scientists who successfully crowdsourced their funding for their crowdsourcing microbiome data collection in Indigogo early this year (asked $100k, raised $350k). They developed a kit for individuals to collect their samples which they will use to analyse and study. The more samples they have, the better WE’ll know. Microbiome is very interesting branch of medical science, if you haven’t come across already, here’s a simple introduction.ubiome_founders


Relatively recently, the medical industry is paying attention to microbiome, ‘the ecology of human body’. In layman’s term (my favourite language), the tenants who are renting space in our body – some are here long like rent controlled. Microbial cells outnumber human cells more than10 times, which indicates that microbiome study may reveal more about us than DNA study. Long fascinating story short, we know very little about it for its potential for medical studies and practices. To know more? We need data. That’s what Ubiome is all about.

Summary + Keywords

  • Big data is a big hit for health industry as well, and the next big wave in health industry will be PERSONALIZED MEDICINE.
  • Participation is the key to successful big data use – the more you give, (the better we know. Therefore) the better you get. It’s true in all sorts of things that deal with data, but it does have more meaningful impact in health industry. (It’s about life!) Ubiome is a perfect example.
  • Where are we in Quantified Self and wearables? Wearable tech companies have learned a lot for the past year or so and they are realising that’s not enough. Jawbone can tell you to get up and move when it finds you sitting at a place for too long, but you could be driving or in a meeting. Machines have long way to go. So companies like Jawbone and Withings are taking multi sensor approach to learn more about us. Better decisions can be made when more contexts are considered.
  • In conclusion, Problem + Creative minds = Opportunity. Because of the shitty situation HEALTH in United States is something negative and problematic. However, luckily there are many creative minds in this land of opportunity who can turn shitty problems into opportunities and others who listen.

This is it! Thanks for reading. For those who are so generous to read so far down here, here are some nuggets I want to pass along for healthy long life.

Rule of thumb: Regularity.  

Your body needs to know what to expect. Irregularity leads to fatal diseases. But we all know this, just can’t keep it up.

Careful with vitamins supplements 

You may not know this. Current study says no long term benefit but harm (17% more death rate) for people who took vitamins.

Careful with antibiotics 

Altho it could be lifesaving for certain situations for children, the side effect can be greater.

Full agenda.

Designing for wellness

(Written as part of Fjord IxD Writing, still in draft)

It’s still a work-in progress, and the end goal of the writing is to have a point of view in designing for health care

All the points that I need to come across

  • Tackle the right problem
    • Health is not just about moving more
    • We are neglecting ‘mind’ and ‘social’ aspect of our health
  • Illusion and perspective
    • Health is intangible state and we need to present its state in a way that we can understand
    • So we try to simulate health in a perspective that human understands (graph, visualisation etc), but at the same time, it’s very easy to make a false illusion. (net balance of calorie is a great example) We need to give the right perspective users need.
    • Health is complex and it’s a state that you achieve through many different parts working together.   (like a city. But you can only see 1 layer of the city through a map.)
    • Need for full picture –  we experience small parts here and there, but we need the full picture.
  • Motivation
    • Giving the right advice – Why am I doing this? Why you should be doing this? What’s the benefit/consequences for doing this?
    • We are not addressing what’s happening near me.
    • Leveraging social aspect – I am letting  my team down
    • Motivation in personal level – this is ‘my best’ week
  • Technology is not there yet
    • There’s a discrepancy between what you know and what machines know



Wellness apps stickiness

(Written as part of Fjord IxD Writing, shared with Fjord New York studio)


Inspired by Mahin’s email a few days ago, I will write a few words about the proliferating health devices.

“Fewer than 20% of people keep using things like trackers and wellness apps – and the dropoff tends to happen within just a few months. And the ones who keep using them need them the least. It’s a huge problem.”

I see two things that drive this trend.

1. Lack of user motivation

It’s the classic example of “because technology can but I never really wanted one”.

When it comes to improving health, what I am missing is motivation, not a series of numbers. I don’t need device to know I haven’t moved much today and I need more exercise. But once I am motivated, numbers start to matter. Now, I want the measurements because they help you think where you fail and what you can do better next time. one interesting article from the provider but not really your favorite topic.

For me, someone who is not motivated to move more, my calorie burn reports are just one more email that stack up unread in my inbox – I agreed to subscribe a few years ago because of one interesting article from the provider but not really your favorite topic.

2. Disconnected dots.

You don’t become a healthy person just by moving a lot, but also by thinking positively and socially active.

You buy these devices and the premise that this will make you more aware of your health, but you get to see only one aspect of it (physical movement is the most popular data type). But human beings are way complex that one data element cannot possibly measure/represent it’s state. So you try these devices a couple month and may see your calorie burns trends up. But you still won’t know why you are not any healthier then you give up.

(This is our big learning from a 2 year long project, Macaw)