The San Francisco studio specializes in combining sensor-driven hardware with good design (its motto is “Beautiful tools for self-care and mind harmony”). In 2012, it launched PEM, an elegantly realized personal environment monitor that connects to your phone, displaying humidity, radiation and electromagnetic field levels. In January, the studio went a few steps further, designing add-ons to a concept modular phone that Google’s Project Ara is now working on. Lapka imagined seven colourful add-ons that snap on to monitor our immediate environments. One component registers spikes in VOCs, while others keep tabs on heart rates and glucose levels. The device is still in the concept stage, but it seems clear that pocket-sized, personalized clinics are a thing of the future.
It can’t be denied. The hormonal shifts in a woman’s reproductive cycle have a huge impact on her sense of well-being. Leaf, a smart jewel made of stainless steel and wood designed by San Francisco’s Bellabeat, syncs with an app to chart the user’s menstrual cycle and gauge how other biometric data overlaps with it. The app then provides suggestions: in times of high stress, it guides you through breathing exercises, and if your sleep is often disrupted it recommends adjustments to help you snooze deeper and longer. Bellabeat is now developing a platform of wearables and apps that perform useful functions throughout a woman’s life.
Elizabeth Holmes is the youngest self-made woman billionaire for good reason. Theranos, the health care technology company she founded in 2003, puts the results of blood tests – which require just a prick of the thumb – in consumers’ hands. Theranos tests are available at its own wellness centres and at Walgreens pharmacies. As well, the American company has partnered with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim to bring its services south of the border. Although scientists remain skep-tic-al (due to the potential for over-diagnosis, among other concerns), the remarkable range of tests – from cholesterol and vitamin deficiency to STDs – might just make Theranos a biotech game changer.