Technology: An Effective Aid in Healthy Behavior Change

Attending the New Media Expo (NMX) and the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) convinced this health practitioner that the latest technology can truly aid in creating healthy behavior change. I think of NMX as showcasing the ways to communicate and innovate with the hardware shared at CES. This post will show you aspects from both shows working together to promote behavior change.

The New Media Expo displayed the latest developments in internet-ready communication. Today, blogging involves various online communication methods including podcasting (audio blog), web logging (written), or vlog (video blog). The internet allows us to connect to others in deep and meaningful ways like never before through social media, hangouts and blogs (all types). We can create friendships through social media, instigate behavior change, and convert friends into loyal customers.

The Consumer Electronics Show is awe-inspiring, with interactive exhibits from companies hoping to change the world. There were two health-related “Tech Zones,” which included “Fitness Tech” and “Digital Health.” Here is a review of some of the outstanding new gadgets and hardware from each of these zones:

Fitness Tech

Nabu — Razer displayed its new product, the Nabu Smart Band. In my opinion, it is the most appealing and functional wearable I have experienced. Likewise, it won the Best of CES2014 People's Choice Award. It is sleek-looking and not as clunky as other bands. This device has the ability to gamify any activity or goal you pursue. An added benefit is the fully functional social media aspect. For a price tag of about $100, the Nabu is an affordable choice for a social media and wellness device.

fitbug — The fitbug is a wearable device reminiscent of a pedometer. Along with helping track fitness goals, it also serves as a sleep-tracking device. There are weight loss and activity plans that coach the wearer to wellness, and a unique feature of the fitbug is that you can wear it in various places on the body.The device costs $50 and each coaching plan is $19.99.

ithlete — For the athlete, there is the ithlete. The device resembles an oxygen-monitor that connects to the ithlete app. The soft finger sensor is placed on the index finger for 60 seconds when you first wake up in the morning. The device measures the Heart Rate Variability (HRV) to better track training and recovery. The purpose of the device is to help athletes get the most out of their training while decreasing the chance of over-training and injury. The device retails for $79 and the application download is $9.99.

Digital Health

Metria — Metria is a wearable, water-resistant, disposable patch. The patch contains multiple sensors that collect data for up to seven days of wear. The metrics measured include heart rate, HRV, respiration, sleep and energy expenditure. The information is then downloaded to the member’s portal through a hidden USB port revealed from cutting the patch. The cost per patch is about $35.

Telecare — Telecare is a wireless-enabled glucometer. The physician gets an alert if a patients’ blood sugar is outside of selected parameters. The cost is around $150 for the starter kit.

Many of us use pads and watches primarily for Candy Crush and tracking calories, but these devices can now be used as powerful tools for behavior change. They range from reading sleep patterns to helping elite athletes in training. For the average consumer, they are all within acceptable financial reach. After all, is that not what Steve Jobs envisioned from the beginning, creating a world where we are one with how we experience technology? Technology can and will revolutionize the way we experience healthcare, wellness and our future.

Crystal Petrello on Twitter
Crystal Petrello
Crystal Petrello, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian in Las Vegas, Nevada. She is the founder of Follow her on Twitter.