Tech That Does Your Body Good

When computers and the human body meet, great things can happen. That seems to be the ethos of tech entrepreneurs Hosain Rahman of Jawbone and Tan Lee of Emotiv, who work on extra-sensory reception.

Rahman spoke to Spencer Reiss of Wired about his company’s latest release, the health monitoring wristband “Up”, unveiled last November. As people move towards a more “quantified self” way of life, in which information about their bodies and their health becomes more and more desirable, Jawbone works to make gadgets that are beautiful and worth wearing.

The smartphone is now at the center of one’s digital life, said Rahman, and so their product is one that is controlled by a smartphone.

In an age of cloud computing and data mining, information about a person’s health can not only help people monitor their own health, but prevent brain illnesses, said Tan Lee, head of Emotiv.

Her company has launched a portable, more affordable version of an Electroencephalograph (EEG), which looks more like a DJ’s headphones than brain scanning technology. The devices already have a presence in over 90 countries.

The idea would be to compile a large-enough database, on a global scale, on to brain information retrieved by these devices to analyze and identify patterns that could help prevent or even revert certain illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or Autism.

Losing the left side of the world: Rightward shift in human spatial attention with sleep onset

Unilateral brain damage can lead to a striking deficit in awareness of stimuli on one side of space called Spatial Neglect. Patient studies show that neglect of the left is markedly more persistent than of the right and that its severity increases under states of low alertness. There have been suggestions that this alertness-spatial awareness link may be detectable in the general population. Here, healthy human volunteers performed an auditory spatial localisation task whilst transitioning in and out of sleep. We show, using independent electroencephalographic measures, that normal drowsiness is linked with a remarkable unidirectional tendency to mislocate left-sided stimuli to the right. The effect may form a useful healthy model of neglect and help in understanding why leftward inattention is disproportionately persistent after brain injury. The results also cast light on marked changes in conscious experience before full sleep onset.

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(Image: ALAMY)