Quantified Health

As we’ve stated elsewhere on this blog, the vanguard of the Tricorder era today is here today, and it is called the Quantified Self.

Yesterday we had coffee with QS co-founder Gary Wolf to trade thoughts on a variety of topics.

Contrary to the expression on Walter’s face, a good time was had by all, and we resolved to engage with the QS community to help identify and overcome the main choke points to further innovation in the self-tracking space.

Tabletop business plans

Legend has it that some of the biggest companies in the world were started over drinks at the bar, with the initial business idea charted out on the back of a napkin.

We weren’t quite able to fit ours on a napkin, but at a recent meeting with our advisor Dr. Dan Kraft, we did come up with something on a tabletop.

IDEO Kickoff

Ever since we met the incomparable David Webster at FutureMed this Spring, we knew that we needed to work with his health & wellness practice at IDEO if we wanted to fully articulate our vision for the Tricorder.

Yesterday was the first day with him and his team.  We started by looking back at the original object of inspiration:

And then onward to future plans:

Excited to see where this project heads!

Thinking Visual

When you’re on a mission to build a mythical device, you need visual thinkers close at hand – that’s why Walter was happy to spend time today with Chris Hatala, President of Massive Black, a world-leading interactive design firm.

If Ed Saxon is right – if the future of medical technology is apps, games, and movies – then who better to have in the Scanadian fold than Chris.   So we’ve asked him to ponder the tricorder…


Yesterday was a whiteboarding day.  Despite all the digital implements we have at our disposal, it still feels surprisingly good & productive to get in a room with other people and brainstorm.

Angry Birds vs. Google Health

Today we had an interesting conversation with Wil Yu, Special Assistant of Innovations at the Office of National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).

There is tremendous interest and support coming from the government to bend the cost curve in healthcare spending, and the combination of publicly-funded initiatives and general macroeconomic & technology trends have created the favorable environment for healthcare innovation that we are now plugging into.

Wil’s advice to health innovators who want to target consumers: build something addictive, because health outcomes are driven by health behaviors, and consumers need to be sustainably engaged to drive behavior change.  Ie. build your application more like Angry Birds than like Google Health!

NASA exploration

We’ve been looking for the perfect headquarters for our planetary effort to build the Medical Tricorder, and we may have just found it – the NASA Research Park.

Located at NASA Ames, this is a historic campus that still hosts plenty of cutting-edge innovation, including the Future of Power (Bloom Energy), the Future of Private Space Exploration (Moon Express), and the Future of Education (Singularity University).

Nothing is finalized yet, but we’re excited to keep exploring the NASA space.

Quantifying Self

Back in May, we had the pleasure of participating in the first-ever global Quantified Self Conference, which was an overwhelmingly excellent event (overwhelming because there were too many interesting presentations happening all at the same time 🙂

Last night, I joined a smaller get together of QS enthusiasts to discuss QS past, present, and future.

Unfortunately the lighting was as bad as the conversation was good, so only a couple of grainy pics to share here, but it was truly an honor to sit with some of the smartest people in the world and discuss a movement that has huge implications for global health and human understanding more generally.

QS Founder Kevin Kelly and HealthTap Co-Founder Dr. Geoff Rutledge

Uber-grainy shot of QS Founder Gary Wolf talking with Dave Marvit of Fujitsu and Rajiv Mehta of Tonic, with organizer Marcia Seidler in the foreground.

Brainstorming [or: Synaptic Spike Session]

Yesterday I had a real treat – a two-hour brainstorming session with the editor of The Singularity is Near and Kurzweil AI, Amara D. Angelica.

Amara has had a fascinating career spanning human factors engineering for the aerospace industry, PR work for tech luminaries like Bill Gates, systems analysis for the Navy, journalism with ground-breaking outlets O’Reilly media and Mondo 2000, and patent-writing with inventors including Ray Kurzweil and Jack Tuszynski.

Keep tuned here for updates on our collaboration with Amara.  In the meantime, enjoy a couple pictures below, Amara walks me through a theory of cognition based on microtubules.

Consulting with top minds

We view Scanadu as a planetary effort to build a mythical device to remake medicine – in that spirit, we are looking to the top minds in the world for guidance in how to pursue our goal.

Tonight our CEO had just such a mind within reach – Luc Montagnier, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

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