ces 2014
(3/4) of The Doctor Weighs In & Health Innovation Media Team (Helena Nguyen, Pat Salber, Tammy Tran)

It would be impossible to list all the cool things I saw at CES 2014—ranging from the mind-boggling two-story Ultra HD 3D wall in the LG Booth to self-driving cars to lowtech Cocoon backpacks, so I think I will limit this to my favorite Health Gadgets.

The Digital Health section of the exhibit hall was all wearables (trackables) all the time—you know the usual cast of characters: Fitbit, Fitbug, Jawbone, Nike, etc. Actually none of these made it on my favorites list. I was itching to see tech that addresses actual health problems not just track my steps, heart rate and pulse ox. So here we go:

 

AcceleDent by Ortho-Accel

The Acceledent Device by Ortho-Accel
The Acceledent Device by Ortho-Accel

I love the idea of this one: AcceleDent by Ortho-Accel. It is a gadget that is supposed to reduce the time you have to wear braces to straighten your teeth. Since I got my braces as an adult—at a time when very few adults had them, every day with my mouth full of metal was painful. I would have gladly used this hand-free device 20 minutes a day if it would have liberated me from braces hell even one day sooner.

AcceleDent works by applying what the company calls Soft Pulse Technology via the tool. You gently bite onto something that looks like the device your dentist uses to make impressions—except it has a handle with an on-off switch. Activation of the device delivers a very mild shaking motion to the teeth that is supposed to accelerate the jaw bone remodeling process.

According to the Company, this will “accelerate the movement of your teeth as they are guided by your orthodontics.” There is a statement on the website that says the device is clinically proven to move teeth up to 50% faster. The footnote to this statement states that “data is on file.” I was told by Kathleen Malaspina, the Chief Innovation Officer of the company, that more than 1000 orthodontists are already recommending the device to their patients.

 

VibaBody Slimmer

The VibaBody Slimmer
The VibaBody Slimmer

This one may make you think I am off my rocker—and maybe I am. But I liked it. The VibaBody Slimmer literature claims the machine does all sorts of things:

  • Increase metabolism
  • Build muscle
  • Burn fat
  • Tone your body
  • Reduce joint pain
  • Increase HGH levels
  • Build bone mass
  • Reduce back pain

A miracle, no? But it felt sooo good to be on it and even better off of it.  You step on the rubber footpads and turn on the switch. It immediately starts shaking you all over—all you can do is laugh. I am not sure if this is the same technology that others refer to as a granny shaker—a device to combat osteoporosis—but I do know that my low back stiffness and aching was relieved for several hours after only 15 minutes of shaking (not exactly a scientific observation, but this N of 1 got benefit).

Does it really work? Well, here is what it says on the vibabodyslimmer.com website:

“Is the VibaBody Slimmer credible? Absolutely. From NASA to professional sports’ teams to chiropractors and physiotherapists, Whole Body Vibration has been accepted and is being employed throughout the world. Its proven benefits are detailed in medical journals.”

I googled on over to PubMed and indeed did find a number of articles in peer-reviewed journals that suggested or supported the effectiveness of Whole Body Vibration (WBV) in a variety of clinical conditions, including:

Older women with low bone density
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15040822

Muscle stregnth and balance in Type 2 Diabetics with neuropathy
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24411154

Balance and mobility in older adults, particularly frail elderly
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22609157

An adjunct to weight loss programs
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22609157

So there you go!

 

Resound and Siemens

The (nearly invisible) Resound Hearing Aid
The (nearly invisible) ReSound Hearing Aid

I am going to close this post by writing about hearing aids. I don’t wear one so I haven’t really kept up with the advances in hearing aid technology. Because of that, I was really really impressed with how invisible they have become and how much more useful. I looked at both the ReSound and the Siemens high end hearing aids.

The first thing that impressed me about both offerings were how tiny they were—these are definitely not your Grandmothers hearing aid (big, beige and whistling). I was also impressed with the user friendly functionality. Both brands were able to stream music (or audiobooks) and you can talk on the phone through them. They both had the ability to allow custom programming so that the hearing aids sound quality is optimized to the circumstances (e.g., reducing ambient noise in a crowded restaurant so you can better hear your dining companions).

ReSound has BlueTooth technology in the hearing aid itself. The device communicates with the user via a mobile phone app—so you can adjust your hearing aid surreptitiously—folks will think you are just checking your text messages. Siemens puts the BlueTooth technology in a miniTek device that also allows control of the hearing aid via your smartphone.

I love the functionality of these hearing aids and asked both of these companies if they would be making less expensive, non-medical versions so that I could toss my headphones and earbuds and just wear these cool devices to talk on the phone and listen to music. Answer: not anytime soon—oh well.

In a later post, I will explore more of my favorite things from CES, including platforms and programs. So much innovation, so little time.

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