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Striiv Ups the Standard for Pedometers — Games, Challenges, and Charity Incorporated

The amount of pedometers I have owned in my life is a bit ridiculous. Granted, most of them have been free, or cost less than five dollars…but the fact of the manner is — I usually end up losing them as a result of forgetting to use it in the first place.

Striiv, a company that aims to create products that get people walking, has recently come out with two new products to achieve that goal. The first, a $99 pedometer that has tons of features. And the second? Something that anyone who tends to lose pedometers will appreciate.

Both the pedometers were created with activity based games with one goal in mind — to get people moving. The actual pedometer “turns 10,000 steps a day into playing a game, donating to charity, and competing with friends,” according to the Strivv website.

It really looks like a lot of fun. The device is pretty small, and looks like a cell phone. It tracks steps, mileage, and has challenges and tournaments. One of the coolest things about the device is that the more the user uses it, the more customized the experience becomes. It starts to learn habits and adapt to lifestyles. And instead of simply just showing the amount of calories burned, or miles walked, the device shows food items that have been burned, and shows distances like walking across the golden gate bridge.

Every step a person walks while using the Striiv Smart Pedometer, money gets donated to charity. This is a free service to the user, and goes to a great cause.

It also has a fun fitness game called “My Land.” Here is the description of it from the website:

MyLand is the first ever fitness based game on a pedometer. The concept is simple. You start with an enchanted island and your goal is to bring back the animals that inhabit the island by planting the building trees and places to live. Everything you build is based on how much you walk, run, and take the stairs though. So the more you move, the more you progress.

For anyone that likes games or is competitive, this sounds like the perfect motivation!

Now for those who can’t afford the $99 price tag, or just simply want to incoporate a pedometer into their phone, the free app from Striiv is a great idea. I mean, I always have my phone with me. Almost no chance of losing it, right?

The app creates customized challenges to “hit throughout the day.” It keeps track of distances and calories burned (Striiv actually teamed up with MyFitnessPal to help track nutrition.) Users can compete against friends, or even people they don’t know, for some added motivation. It also creates graphs about weight loss and distance walked.

“MyLand” is also available on the app, so you won’t be missing out by just getting the free app. I wasn’t able to figure out if walking goes toward charity, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it does.

I’ve often heard that walking is the first “step” toward becoming healthier. And it looks like Striiv is making great strides to making that easier and more enjoyable. I’d love to try out either of these, but I’ll just have to wait and see if the app comes out for Android.

Download the app for free here
Striiv Smart Pedometer can be purchased here

October 26, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Using Video Games to Screen for Malaria

If you have read much of anything I write on this site, you know that I am all for anything that makes gaming a worthwhile endeavor as opposed to just a time killer.  Don’t get me wrong, killing time is sometimes worthwhile, but more beneficial byproducts are starting to become more common.

Researchers at UCLA are using crowd sourcing in the form of an online game to help in diagnosing malaria.  The press release goes into much more detail but here are some of the main points:

-The study was based on the assumption that large groups of untrained people could be trained to recognize infectious diseases at the same level as a trained pathologist.

-After playing the game, these non-experts were able to malaria affected red blood cells within 1.25% of the accuracy of trained professionals.

-While individuals make mistakes, by increasing the number of observers to 20 or even 50 you greatly improve the level of accuracy.

-The research team is also working on an algorithm to allow computer vision to make the same diagnosis, and a hybrid version to further increase accuracy.

Malaria is a huge issue throughout Africa, and in many developing countries in general.  The problem starts with not being able to diagnose people quickly enough, followed by misdiagnosis which leads to unnecessary and expensive treatments.  If we can help alleviate some of the issues at the start of the process, the whole thing will be more effective and efficient.

The obvious major stumbling block is getting the established microbiologists to buy-in to such a simple, and unqualified approach.  This is by no means the first process that has faced scrutiny, and just like all of its predecessors, the researchers will have o prove its effectiveness through clinical trials.

Malaria is not something that we often stress about in America, but it is a very real problem in a very large portion of the world, and it needs to be addressed.  If something as simple as a game can help save lives (malaria accounts for the deaths of 20% of children’s deaths in sub-Saharan Africa) then it is definitely something worth pursuing.  Sometimes it is the simplest solution that provides the greatest results.

May 8, 2012 I Written By

Health Games – Applying Gaming to Better Health

I’ve been really interested lately in something that people call game dynamics. Basically, it’s features on a website or in an application that uses a game or competition to encourage the desired result.

At its most basic level, you can see this type of thing in apps like Foursquare where you can receive badges as you do certain actions. Basically, they give you an award for doing the things that they want you to do. It’s been used incredibly effectively in many online applications. In fact, the whole dynamic of game mechanics improving engagement of a website is a field that I think is just beginning to flourish.

With this short background, you can imagine why I was so intrigued by a websites called Health Gamers. I love the name and the play on words. Here’s a short description of what they are about:

Helth ‘ Gā-mər, n. One who is interested in developing, researching or playing game technology as a way of improving the well being of others. At healthGAMERS, we want to start a dialog about Health Games, an emerging field that uses game-based technology to improve the health of the public. Many players are needed to make a successful Health Game, and we hope people from a variety of fields will weigh in on this innovative subject.

They have highlighted some interesting health care apps that use gaming to promote healthy behavior and actions. I’m sure I’ll do many future posts talking about applications and “games” that I find on their website.

I’d also love to hear what other health related applications people use that effectively use game mechanics to promote healthy behavior. Let me know in the comments.

March 15, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.