Smelling Cancer


Designer Susana Soares has developed an astounding new tool that allows your average honeybee to detect early traces of cancer and other diseases by simply smelling your breath.

This technology relies on the honey bee’s acute sense of smell. The insects get trained to associate sugar water with a specific disease odor. When a subject breathes into the device, if the bees smell the odor they fly towards the glass feeding chamber indicating traces of the sickness. A bee can be trained to do this in just 10 minutes!



The Scanadu Scout promises to allow you to keep tabs on your (or someone else’s) health. A small, hockey-puck-shaped device, it works through bodily contact. Hold it to your forehead and it displays, via a smartphone, your temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and plenty more.
The Scanadu Scout

My Fitness Data

Over at The Verge, Paul Miller on fitness trackers and the data they capture:

At CES this year, a horde of companies brought devices that track every metric of fitness: steps, runs, weight, heartbeats, skin temperature, air quality, and even how fast you eat. Much of the choice seems to come down to ergonomics (wristband or beltclip?), and color (pink or blue or gray?), but there’s another important distinction that needs attention: does the data this device tracks belong to me, or to the maker?

Miller brings up some great points in this post.

I haven’t thought about this since I started using my Nike FuelBand this past Sunday, but it’s true, there’s no reason I shouldn’t have access to my fitness data so I can back it up or export it to another service. Sure, Nike can keep their proprietary ‘Fuel’ score. But steps? Calories? Those are universal measurements. They’re my measurements.

We’re already seeing Twitter opening up access to users’ tweet archives. I think it’s only a matter of time before fitness trackers do the same.

I smell a Kickstarter opportunity.

The Nike+ FuelBand


My wife got us both Nike FuelBands recently and I started using mine today. Mike Mulvey enters the age of the quantified self.

The first step is setting up your Nike+ account, letting the system know your age, height, weight and sex. You wear the FuelBand around your wrist and it tracks your movements throughout the day via accelerometer sensors not unlike like the ones detecting orientation in iPhones and iPads. Your body stats, combined with your movements, translate to a Nike ‘Fuel’ score along with calories burned and steps taken.

Continue reading “The Nike+ FuelBand”

More Is Less

Boston Globe: Gym-Pact bases fees on members’ ability to stick to their workout schedule

Every year, we resolve to hit the gym more often and get fit. And by the end of January, many of us have missed workouts or given up altogether.

According to Yifan Zhang, a 2010 graduate of Harvard College, part of the problem is that customers see gym membership fees as money spent, or “a sunk cost, especially if you pay at the beginning of the year.” That prompted the idea for Gym-Pact in Boston, which she created with Harvard classmate Geoff Oberhofer.

Gym-Pact offers what Zhang calls motivational fees — customers agree to pay more if they miss their scheduled workouts, literally buying into a financial penalty if they don’t stick to their fitness plans. The concept arose from Zhang’s behavioral economics class at Harvard, where professor Sendhil Mullainathan taught that people are more motivated by immediate consequences than by future possibilities.

via PSFK


Heisenberg’s Uncertainty principle:

In quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states by precise inequalities that certain pairs of physical properties, like position and momentum, cannot simultaneously be known to arbitrary precision. That is, the more precisely one property is known, the less precisely the other can be known. In other words, the more you know the position of a particle, the less you know about its velocity, and the more you know about the velocity of a particle, the less you know about its instantaneous position.

This principle is like a woman, I don’t understand much of it, but it intrigues me.

No Bees, No Us

From the Telegraph:

They set up a controlled experiment in Punjab earlier this year comparing the behavior and productivity of bees in two hives – one fitted with two mobile telephones which were powered on for two fifteen minute sessions per day for three months. The other had dummy models installed.


After three months the researchers recorded a dramatic decline in the size of the hive fitted with the mobile phone, a significant reduction in the number of eggs laid by the queen bee. The bees also stopped producing honey.

Via Analogue

How about … I don’t give a shit

From ScienceDaily:

The stimulatory effects of caffeine may be nothing more than an illusion, according to new research that shows there is no real benefit to be gained from the habitual morning cup of coffee.

I’ve noticed when I’m out of my normal workday routine, like on a vacation, I get headaches from what seems to be coffee withdrawals. Then I find myself a cup of coffee and boom – headache is gone.

to Flash or not to Flash

One guy’s story of trying to go Flash-free:

For me, the conclusion after February was clear. I missed out on a few things that annoyed me intensely. Most of the things I missed out on were videos on websites like TED and the New York Times. I had some catching up to do after February. With the help of ClicktoFlash and Youtube and Vimeo’s HTML5 players I was able to watch most of the video content out there, but there is still a lot that you can’t watch without that little plugin. I also ‘missed out’ on a truckload of so-called ‘rich advertisements’, which I absolutely adored.

meds not always the answer

After an hour-long wait I had a great conversation with my doctor. I explained that the medication he suggested I take before bed (for a non-terminal issue) made me feel drowsy in the morning, almost like I was hungover and that I stopped taking it.
He told me he was glad I stopped taking it. He went on to express his frustration that drug companies create conditions and diseases that don’t exist and that while my condition might cause discomfort, the med he prescribed was by no means the only solution.
I’ve become more and more jaded with the US healthcare system and it was refreshing to talk to a doctor that didn’t feel like he was in a drug company’s back pocket.


Samsung skips the touchscreen, patents gesture-based phone interface
Microsoft adds twist to handhelds with force-sensing technology
So Samsung is working on gestures, and Microsoft is working on force-sensing.
Is everyone already throwing in the towel on multi-touch interfaces?
Listen, as happy iPhone owner, I know from experience that Apple has created a paradigm – but not the paradigm for multi-touch interaction. There’s a lot of room for more innovation within this realm.
Don’t be desperate
It’s one thing to jump into a new technology out of desire, but it’s another thing to do it out of desperation.
Most people will agree that has created one of the paradigms for e-commerce. If you’re developing a e-commerce site, be sure to spend a lot of time on to understand how one of the masters does it.
Now image if every company selling products online decided to completely change the e-commerce model, not because shopping carts and recommendation weren’t working, but just to do something different.
When in doubt, copy the shit of out the competition
When companies aren’t trying to come up with the next, new, new thing out of desperation, they seem to be straight up, blatantly copying the competition. It’s easy to do this. Innovation is risky and it costs a lot of money. By bypassing the whole, silly ‘innovation thing’, you can save a lot of time and money.
What you don’t bypass is looking like a jackass to the whole industry.
Hell, I’m just going to start copying the work of group94 because I think they’ve established the only way to creative engaging Flash websites.
What you’re missing out on
While you’re trying to out-innovate or copy the achievements of other companies, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to compete by creating meaningful work.
We’ve barely scratched the surface of multi-touch interfaces. Companies should be jumping on the opportunity to create new paradigms in this field (and modifying existing ones).
The LG Voyager. The Samsung F700. The LG Prada.
These aren’t phones, they’re Canal Street rip-offs.
Let’s start making some real work.

No Meds Necessary

For about two years, I’ve had to deal with sharp pains in my legs and feet. This wasn’t muscle pain, it felt more like it was coming from my nerves.
About 2 months ago, I decided to go to the doctor to this condition diagnosed. My doctor told me it was RLS – restless leg syndrome. RLS is sort of a distant ‘cousin’ of Parkinson’s (but in no way debilitating, more of an annoyance). He prescribed me a drug called Requip. I started taking Requip and it helped alleviate the pain. One of the side effects is that is makes you drowsy, so I would only take it before bed.
Then, two weeks ago, I decided it was time to get back in shape so I began running around the Reservoir in Central Park after work. Like any good exercise regime, I’m always sure to include a solid amount of stretching before, during and after my workouts.
Since I’ve started running again, I’ve stopped taking Requip and I’ve noticed the pain in my legs and feet have almost completely disappeared.
I’m not saying this is the solution to anyone dealing with RLS (or RLS symptoms), I’m just saying that drugs are only one of many solutions to health ailments.
The Reservoir in Central Park