“No Silent Night as Hackathon Teams Compete in ‘Voice Assist for All’ Event”

Raising our voices for equality and empowerment took on a whole new meaning last month when digital health entrepreneurs gathered in Playa Vista at USC’s Tech Campus to hack the night away in a unique 30-hour competition created by USC Center for Body Computing (USC CBC) and the WITH Foundation.

The purpose of the event was to design an app based on Voice Assist technology provided by Amazon and Google using Orbita’s sandbox trial voice software solution that supported two special populations: adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and aging seniors. The competition challenged the multidisciplinary teams to create universal design concepts so those with hearing or speech difficulties could utilize this omnipresent technology in their lives. Today, more than 40 million people use voice search or assist daily. By 2020, analysts predict 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches.

These numbers could be even higher if special needs populations were not excluded from the design and functionality of this technology as it evolves. According to WITH, 4.7 million people in the U.S. live with IDD and the CDC reports 1 in 4 Americans have a disability. In addition, AARP and Oxford Economics reported that 111 million people are currently over age 50 and by 2050, the 50+ crowd will represent 40 percent of the total population. We also know that statistically hearing loss starts to begin in our 30s and 40s and more than half of the hearing impaired population are of working age.

Taking all these considerations into the design process is what the WITH Foundation with USC CBC’s help is trying to achieve.  

Dr. Leslie Saxon, who founded the USC CBC and serves as its executive director, calls this effort “building the digital health ramp” much like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) built actual ramps for our special needs population 28 years ago.

Design for All

Universal design is not a new idea – its purpose of aiming for the triple As (Accessible, Adaptable, Assistive) can be found in automatic doors, bendable straws, velcro shoes (ease of use for seniors and toddlers), dropped sidewalk curbs (giving accessibility for both wheelchairs and baby strollers), eReaders and tablets for those ages 18 months to 88 years and the ubiquitous OXO Good Grips home utensils (carrot peelers, coffee pots and more).

While Silicon Valley and other new technology designers and developers create functional products and services, addressing broad consumer needs through universal design is not always on their checklist. According to Ryan Easterly, executive director of the WITH Foundation, it should be.


And the winner is…Amplify

While the five hacker teams who were chosen from among 30 entrants all had exceptional concepts, the expert judges – which included representatives from USC CBC, WITH Foundation, AARP Foundation and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) – chose Team Amplify.

By focusing their winning idea on using voice assist in an innovative and impactful way to deliver a gamification concept and interactivity for speech therapy to children with cerebral palsy, Team Amplify delivered on the Hackathon’s promise to amplify voice assist development efforts to design for all!

Read more about Amplify’s winning entry and watch the event video here: 


IoT Podcast Episode 157: Why Foxconn is buying Belkin and the future of healthcare

After the news segment, I interview Dr. Leslie Saxon who heads up the Center for Body Computing at USC, who believes that we’ll soon get 80 percent of our healthcare virtually. She talks about what we’ll need to make that happen and offers up a unique idea—a virtual version of herself that uses AI to provide basic care in her image and demeanor. The implications of all of this are pretty big, so we dig into two of the big ones; privacy and how it changes the relationship individuals have with healthcare. You’ll end up doing a lot more work. It’s an eye-opening episode.

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Creating a Culture of Trust in Digitally Enabled Patient Care

Security breaches become more personal and dangerous as digital technology increasingly integrates with our bodies via wearables, prosthetics and medical devices. Yet, perhaps the single biggest risk to the health of future generations—even greater than the breaches themselves—is a paralyzing lack of trust in the care-delivery ecosystem. We could have the most secure digital technologies for patient care, but, if people do not trust them, they will retreat to lesser methods of care.

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Cybersecurity risks and patient benefit with remote monitoring of cardiac rhythm management devices: considerations and current policy.

Led by Dr. Leslie Saxon, this activity has been developed to raise awareness through the insights of leading governmental and other cybersecurity experts who provide reviews surrounding the current and future direction of medical technology cybersecurity for increasing standards of patient care. The webcast is comprised of proceedings from an accredited satellite symposium held during Heart Rhythm. Catch her session via webcast...

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SXSW Announces Their 700+ Sessions and Special Blockchain Programming for SXSW 2018

We’re excited to introduce the lion’s share of SXSW Conference programming with over 700 sessions announced as well as the launch of the 2018 SXSW Schedule. Also announced, the Center for Body Computing's Executive Director, Dr. Leslie Saxon will be a featured guest speaker alongside Beau Woods (Atlantic Council) and Michael Chertoff (The Chertoff Group) discussing "Body Computing, Security, & Human Safety". View the link here and don't miss out on your opportunity to experience this exciting session!

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3 ways USC is using virtual care to capture a broader range of patients.

The University of Southern California’s medical school is taking on several efforts to digitize medical care while ensuring new technology is useful and available to more patients. Using mobile apps, sensors and virtual care, the USC’s Center for Body Computing and the Center for Health System Innovation are targeting new technology that makes care more accessible for patients. Those efforts include input from digital design experts who oversee patient engagement factors like computer literacy, trust and access to devices, executives at the USC Keck School of Medicine wrote in NEJM Catalyst.

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The most anticipated slide deck of this year is here! Mary Meeker’s 2017 internet trends report: All the slides, plus analysis.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker is delivering her annual rapid-fire internet trends report right now at Code Conference at the Terranea Resort in California. Here’s a first look at the most highly anticipated slide deck in Silicon Valley. This year’s report includes 355 slides and tons of information, including a new section on healthcare that Meeker didn’t present live.

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Why providers will increase the use of connected health devices

Just as digital technology has transformed every aspect of our lives, the introduction of digital health devices will provide an opportunity to solve one of the hardest problems in medical care delivery—patient-oriented and individualized, timely and convenient service and seamless communication. These connected devices—running the gamut from smartphones to wearable technology to metabolic sensors to implantable devices—offer new capabilities that providers can use to expand care delivery in ways that new reimbursement plans are enabling.

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Using Virtual Reality To Get Inside An Ailing Person's World

Soon, VR may not only create empathy for family caregivers and their loved ones, but also a better health care system. Check out the winners of lasts year's 10th Annual USC Body Computing Conference, Embodied Labs which is a Chicago-based start-up that created the Alfred Lab app,  along with Dr. Saxon's input on this VR app that will "not only [be] informative for family and friends but vital for health care professionals as well".

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These glasses hide a fitness tracker on your face

VSP Global is teaming up with the University of Southern California (USC) Center for Body Computing to work on presenting the glasses, called Level, as a option for those who've embraced devices like the FitBit and Apple Watch. This isn't the first time VSP has tried its hand at entering the tech sector. The company previously worked with Google to offer subsidized frames with prescription lenses for Google Glass. But this time around, VSP is in the lead position and the technology will largely be invisible, thus doing away with the apprehension some had when it came to wearing a device like Google Glass in public.

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With Wearable Tech Deals, New Player Data Is Up for Grabs

As debates about athletes’ rights intensify in big-time college sports, the next frontier, independent experts say, could be privacy issues related to wearable tech, which in coming years could expand beyond health trackers like Fitbit and the Apple Watch to “smart clothing” with sensors embedded in the material....“My question is, how would players’ interests be represented?” said Leslie Saxon, a cardiologist who runs the University of Southern California’s Center for Body Computing, noting that college athletes’ designation as amateurs gives them limited leverage to influence such deals. At the professional level, Saxon noted, there is a “players’ association part of this,” with several unions engaged in discussions over wearable tech. 

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