Press Releases

New View on Fitness Tracker Wearables Finds Prompts, Philanthropy, Personality Keys to Engagement

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Contact: Sherri Snelling at (949) 887-1903 or sherri.snelling@med.usc.edu

@USC_CBC @DrLeslieSaxon

USC and VSP Global® conduct first research to explore motivational factors and discover digital coaching, social networks, charitable giving, life satisfaction help maintain or raise activity levels up to 25 percent

LOS ANGELES — The first study to look at motivators for consistent or increased activity engagement among fitness tracker wearable users was published in the NEJM Catalyst (New England Journal of Medicine Group) from research conducted by the University of Southern California (USC) Center for Body Computing (CBC) and VSP Global’s innovation lab, The Shop. The innovative study, using a prototype of VSP’s unique LevelTM smart glasses, found interaction with social networks and use of digital coaches via a smartphone app connected to a biometric sensor embedded in eyeglasses provided incentive for users to increase activity, including an average 20-25 percent spike in daily steps when prompted by a digital coach.

Digital Coaches, Social Networks and Charitable Giving

Researchers found study participants were motivated by digital coaching using text message prompts sent at pre-determined times to encourage daily step goals. The digital coaching correlated with increased activity—whether tied to personal goals or altruistic goals—and encouraged daily activity with higher step counts of 7,389 average daily steps compared to only 5,924 steps without the prompts and messages. The participants also received support from the app’s social network, with individual users acting as cheerleaders that supplemented the digital coaches. The number of Friends, Likes and Comments were strong predictors of greater activity, according to researchers.

Researchers also designed the study with the hypothesis that users would maintain daily activity if the rewards were not just tied to personal goals but were also connected to charitable giving. The app synched with VSP’s Eyes of Hope® initiative, where study participants accrued points based on reaching daily step goals. Once a certain number of points were achieved, the user triggered the donation of a comprehensive eye exam and pair of glasses to an individual in need among four demographics: school-age children, seniors, veterans or individuals affected by homelessness. Participants who reported being motivated by charitable giving had higher activity levels throughout the study—averaging 700 additional daily steps per degree of charitable motivation.

“One in every five Americans wears a health tracker but there was no research that took a look at what motivates engagement, until now,” said Leslie Saxon, MD, founder and executive director of the USC CBC who led the research effort. “Since the average study participant fell into a group considered overweight—which can lead to increasing health issues such as diabetes and heart disease—it was illuminating to find digital coaching via the app and an altruistic connection helped these participants maintain their engagement or even increase their activity in some areas.”

Diversity and Personality Dominate Unique Study Cohort

The 12-week study was conducted among 284 USC beneficiary employees who provided a diverse cohort for researchers in the single-center longitudinal observational study. Participants, all of whom were daily prescription eyeglass wearers, ranged in age from 18 to 79. The cohort also represented a wide variety of racial backgrounds (36 percent Caucasian; 10 percent African American; 27 percent Latino; 20 percent Asian American; two percent Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander; four percent Other) and a uniquely large representation of women (61 percent vs. 39 percent men) compared to other wearable fitness tracker research. When it came to health status, the group had an average mean body mass index (BMI) of 28, which falls into the category of being overweight (between 18.5- 24.9 is considered normal weight and over 30 is considered obese).  

In addition to the digital coaching, social networks and philanthropic connection providing increased engagement, researchers found older age participants—63 percent were over age 40—along with higher life satisfaction scores also predicted higher activity levels and were factors in consistent engagement. On the Satisfaction with Life scale, those who demonstrated higher emotional stability, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness were more likely to exercise regularly.

“While we cannot say we’ve cracked the code for long-term motivation of physical activity, we still learned a tremendous amount: digital prompts, social support, philanthropy, older age, and life satisfaction created the most impact in motivating our participants,” said Glenn Fox, PhD, Head of Design, Strategy and Outreach at the USC Performance Science Institute, who was part of the team to create the study design and conduct the analysis of the participants. “We now know these are all keys to increased engagement with fitness trackers and deserve further investigation.”

Biometric Sensor Seamlessly Embedded in Eyeglasses Eased Use

Saxon also acknowledged the seamlessness of having a sensor built into a form factor participants wore every day—prescription eyeglasses—was a key motivator for participants. Referencing the ease of not having to remember to put on a separate wearable, the fashionable and comfortable eyewear design, and the simple charging mechanism, participants embraced these aspects of the Level smart glasses as an ideal wearable for activity tracking.

“In many ways, the Level prototype combines all the unique capabilities of VSP Global, including eyewear design and manufacturing, eye care, optics, technology and charitable giving,” said Jay Sales, co-director of VSP’s innovation lab, The Shop. “Partnering with the USC Center for Body Computing gave this project a degree of academic rigor and multidisciplinary input that was needed to truly understand this platform. Our team can now take these critical learnings and apply them to future iterations of Level.”

Gloria Chiu, OD, FAAO, FSLS, who led the study’s eye care team for the USC Roski Eye Institute, stated, “Refractive errors and uncorrectable vision impairment are positively associated with poor self-assessed health and poor psychological health in some populations.” 

As part of his recent research finding visual impairment and blindness prevalence will double in the U.S. by 2050 due to uncorrected refractive errors, Rohit Varma, MD, MPH, dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC and director of the USC Roski Eye Institute, said, “If we can address uncorrected vision impairment and encourage healthier behavior through the use of digital tools such as the Level smart glasses, this is the future we envision and want to encourage.

“This study is another data point that USC’s research partnerships with innovators such as VSP Global are helping to identify novel ways we can create a new era in health care by empowering patients,” added Varma.

Juniper Research has identified Smart Glasses as the highest growth sector of the consumer wearables segment over the next five years, reaching 11 percent of the overall wearables market by 2021. This is during a time when categories such as smartwatches and fitness wearables have begun to slow.

About the USC Center for Body Computing

Founded in 2006 as one of the nation’s first academically-based digital health innovation centers, the USC CBC functions as an interdisciplinary brain trust and innovation center within the Keck Medicine of USC medical enterprise. Member organizations are provided inter-disciplinary research and design support gathering experts in medicine, business, engineering and entertainment to better navigate the complex and evolving world of wireless and wearable healthcare.

About NEJM Catalyst

Launched in 2015 as part of the New England Journal of Medicine Group, NEJM Catalyst, brings health care executives, clinical leaders, and clinicians together to share innovative ideas and practical applications for enhancing the value of health care delivery which is in a period of historic transition. NEJM Catalyst helps forecast improvements to the management and strategy of health care — offering a trusted source of needed information just as the Journal offers a trusted source of information on the art and of science of medicine.

Watch the videos:
USC Study Participants receive their Level Frames
VSP Global’s The Shop on collaborating with USC

Learn more about the USC Center for Body Computing: uscbodycomputing.org
Learn more about VSP Global: vspglobal.com
Learn more about VSP Global’s The Shop: vspglobal.com/cms/about-us/innovation


How Digital Healthcare is Changing Everything
Thought Leaders Meet to Discuss Innovation in Digital Health at USC’s 11th Annual Body Computing Conference

Contact: Sherri Snelling at (949) 887-1903 or sherri.snelling@med.usc.edu

Conference hashtag: #USCBCC11

Twitter: @USC_CBC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, August 28, 2017

Speakers will discuss, debate and demo the latest in:

  • Cybersecurity and healthIT led by California Governor’s GO-Biz unit
  • Wearables impact on personal fitness and training of elite athletes and warfighters
  • On demand transportation apps in improving aging patient health outcomes
  • Targeted nutrition digital health solutions for diabetes management
  • Connected athletics for L.A. Olympics 2028

LOS ANGELES –On Friday, September 22, the University of Southern California (USC) Center for Body Computing (CBC), part of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, will curate conversations to provide a comprehensive understanding of how digital health is touching every aspect of our lives – from performance, behavior and decision-making to medicine, cybersecurity, the military, sports and public policy –at its 11th annual Body Computing Conference (click link to register).

Thought leaders across a broad spectrum come together for the one-day summit to offer local, national and global perspectives on the evolving convergence of health and digital technology. Speakers will shed light on a wide range of topics including the California-led cybersecurity initiative and health IT and L.A.’s 2028 Olympics plan to transform the Olympic Village into a connected health space. The event also includes demonstrations and discussions on the impact of unique wearable sensors to track personal fitness, enhance elite athletic performance and train the next generation of warfighters. And panelists will debate and advocate for the power of digital health tools to be able to combat the critical global issue of diabetes or build on-demand transportation safety nets to address the rapid rise in our aging population.

“Digital tools are making healthcare omnipresent, they are no longer a spoke in the wheel of our lives – they are the hub,” said Leslie Saxon, MD, founder and executive director of the USC Center for Body Computing. “We’re proud to be one of the only digital health conferences that brings together such an eclectic mix of global thought leaders to demonstrate, debate, and introduce the latest products, research, and investments that are accelerating the integration of digital health into every aspect of our lives.”

USC 11th Annual Body Computing Conference Gathers Digital Health Thought Leaders

The exclusive 250-guest capacity crowd includes digital health start-ups and venture capitalists, small and large company executives, non-profit and government organizations, students, academic leaders and media.

Speakers from the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), AARP Foundation, Abbott, an Academy Award-winning producer, Boston Celtics, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, ESPN, GE Software, Goldman Sachs, Joslin Diabetes Center, Karten Design, Lyft, NBA, NFL Players Association, Tastemade, UnitedHealthcare, U.S. Army, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Marines, VSP Global and others will take center stage.

Hosted on USC’s main Los Angeles campus, these experts join the innovators from across USC schools including: Annenberg School of Communications, Brain & Creativity Institute, Institute of Creative Technologies and the medical experts at Keck Medicine of USC. Click here for full list of speakers.

“Whether you are an elite athlete using biometrics to achieve peak performance where milliseconds can make a million-dollar difference, a military commander making crucial choices based on collective team health dynamics, a healthcare system protecting patient privacy or an individual looking to be empowered to enhance personal health outcomes, this event showcases today’s realities and tomorrow’s promise of digital health,” added Saxon.  

According to Rock Health, digital health companies raised $4.2 billion in 2016 – double the amount raised in 2013 – with wearables and biosensors representing $312 million. GMI Insights projects the digital health market will grow to $379 billion by 2024. Last year, virtual reality reached an almost $1 billion market growth in health care specific applications and the adoption of artificial intelligence, apps and mHealth tools are poised for promise when it comes to individual and population health management. The USC CBC serves as a hub at the convergence of a fast-paced and growing digital technology revolution when it comes to medicine, acting as the research project lead and product design partner for small and large companies who want to maximize doctor efficiency, increase access, decrease costs and increase patient empowerment, engagement and health outcomes.

 About the USC Center for Body Computing

The USC Center for Body Computing is the digital health innovation center for the Keck Medicine of USC medical enterprise. Collaborating with inventors, strategists, designers, investors and visionaries from health care, entertainment and technology, the USC CBC serves as an international leader on digital health and wearable technology. Founded in 2006 by Leslie Saxon, a cardiologist, the CBC was one of the nation’s first academically-based centers to focus on digital health solutions.

Dr. Saxon, an internationally renowned digital health guru has spoken at TEDMED, SXSW and WIRED international conferences as well as participates on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory group on global medical app regulations and recently served on a panel at the Bipartisan Policy Center to discuss medical apps and health IT cybersecurity. She was recognized as the nation’s “Most Tech Savvy Doctor” by Rock Health. For more information about the USC CBC: uscbodycomputing.org.

Media interested in attending the conference, please contact: Sherri.Snelling@med.usc.edu

Envisioneering A Healthier, Happier Place To Work: The USC 11th Annual SLAM Competition Offers $10,000 Cash Prize For Best ‘Connected Health In The Workplace’ Concept

Body Computing

August 10, 2017

Contact: Sherri Snelling at (949) 887-1903 or sherri.snelling@med.usc.edu @USC_CBC

LOS ANGELES – Whether it is wearable sensors, artificial intelligence or a new app that fosters creativity, improves productivity and instills happiness and health, the 11th annual competition hosted by the University of Southern California (USC) Center for Body Computing (CBC) asks entrants to envision the modern workplace as a hub of health data collection.

Designed to help transform health behavior for the better, the “Connected Health in the Workplace” SLAM competition focuses on the time spent on work and how to maximize location for the best life possible. With attention paid to both mental and physical health improvements, designers, coders and innovators from around the globe can submit entries in all formats – slides, video, app frame shot. The criteria is to create, design and develop a connected workplace solution for the future that improves health, medical care, content delivery and healthcare outcomes.

Entries must be submitted online at usccbc@gmail.com before the deadline on September 9, 2017 at 5:00pm PST. The top five entries will be invited to “SLAM” and present their ideas in Los Angeles on September 21 before four judges from the USC CBC, USC Institute for Creative Technologies, USC Annenberg School of Communication and USC Viterbi School of Engineering. The winning team will present their entry the following day at the 11th Annual Center for Body Computing Conference held at USC.

“With more than 153 million Americans employed – just about half of the country – we need to find ways to make digital health tools part of our work lives for healthier bodies and minds,” said Leslie Saxon, MD, cardiologist at Keck Medicine of USC and executive director of the USC Center for Body Computing who created the annual SLAM competition and will serve as one of the judges. “Companies like IBM have the right idea – they gave all their employees a wearable device to track healthy behavior and encouraged activities such as walking meetings. Now that we have the tools in our everyday lives such as wearable sensors and artificial intelligence, we can gather exabytes of health information and help inform employees how to improve their health and wellness not just during off-hours or at home but while on the job.”

“The Internet of Things is revolutionizing many aspects of our work and lives by weaving into them a fabric of sensors that will make visible what was previously invisible, and provide meaningful data that can be learned from and acted upon,” said Bhaskar Krishnamachari, director of the Center for Cyber-Physical Systems and the Internet of Things at USC Viterbi School of Engineering and another SLAM judge. “I'm excited and eager to see what innovative visions and insights the participants of this year's body SLAM competition will come up with, at the intersection of health and the workplace.”

The annual USC Body Computing competition encourages multidisciplinary teams exemplified by past winners. In 2016, the winning team from Embodied Labs in Chicago created “I Am Alfred,” a virtual reality (VR) app immersing the viewer into the world of age-related macular degeneration created by a team consisting of a medical illustrator in biomedical visualization, a medical education partner, a creative director with a theater and film background and a VR program developer. Another past winner was Los Angeles-based SingFit, a musical therapy app for those with dementia created by a certified music therapist, a business entrepreneur in technology and media and an app programmer.

“The submissions in our annual competition always amaze me as to what dedicated, innovative, cross-disciplinary teams can do in a compressed time window,” added Saxon. “It just shows that the American entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in digital health and these tools are quickly becoming a big factor in the successful outcomes of our overall national health picture.”

The 11th annual USC Center for Body Computing Conference is an annual gathering of more than 300 digital health thought leaders.  The one-day summit offers a 360-degree perspective on the evolving convergence of health and technology with past speakers from the FDA, IBM Watson, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, NBA, Nokia Technologies, IEEE Standards Association, U.S. Department of Defense, Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences), VSP Global, ESPN, NBA, NFL and Walgreen’s who join key digital health start-ups, venture capitalists, media, experts across USC and the best medical minds at Keck Medicine of USC. The event has served as a platform for product launches, high level networking, and it has received media coverage around the globe.  The USC BCC is well known for creating and cultivating ideas that turn into sustainable industry trends.

About the USC Center for Body Computing

Founded in 2006 by internationally-recognized physician visionary Dr. Leslie Saxon, the USC Center for Body Computing is a thought leader innovation hub designed to bring together digital and life sciences executives, sensor and mobile app investors, strategists, designers, investors and visionaries from healthcare, entertainment and technology to collaborate on transformative care solutions.  The Center is a leader in digital health clinical research and elite athletic performance studies. In collaboration with Keck Medicine of USC, the Center has the ability to conduct clinical trials and performance studies at its facilities that help define and guide member's product development efforts. The future patient care models being developed at the Center will leverage technology along with physician expertise to bring disease treatment and management options to more people on demand at an affordable cost. In September the USC Center for Body Computing will hold its 11th Annual Global Body Computing conference at USC which draws thought leaders from all over the world. For more information visit:  uscbodycomputing.org

USC’s Digital Health Expert Provides Critical Physician Insights On Cybersecurity and Medical Devices Panel Discussion in the Nation’s Capital

Body Computing 

 July 3, 2017

Contact: Sherri Snelling at (949) 887-1903 or sherri.snelling@med.usc.edu @USC_CBC @DrLeslieSaxon

WASHINGTON – This week in the nation’s capital the Bipartisan Policy Center convened thought leaders in national security and health care including Leslie Saxon, MD, cardiologist at Keck Medicine of USC and executive director of the USC Center for Body Computing, for a panel discussion, “Cybersecurity and Medical Devices: Assessing Risks and Strategies for Overcoming Them.”

Bipartisan Policy Center Event - Cybersecurity and Medical Devices: Risk Assessment and Response - June 28, 2017

Bipartisan Policy Center Event - Cybersecurity and Medical Devices: Risk Assessment and Response - June 28, 2017

The panel discussed critical issues surrounding regulations and enforcement of safety standards and policies to avoid the cybersecurity risks inherent in digital health, including medical apps, in front of a crowd of more than 100 policymakers, corporate executives and news media. As the only physician on the panel and a recognized national authority on digital health, Saxon’s fellow panelists included: Michael Chertoff, executive chairman and co-founder of The Chertoff Group and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Michael Morrell, former acting and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); William V. Murray, president and CEO of Medical Device Innovation Consortium; and Robert B. Ford, executive vice president of medical devices for Abbott. Janet Marchibroda, director of health innovation for the Bipartisan Policy Center, which addresses national issues in economic policy, energy, immigration, national security and health care, moderated the panel discussion.

“Cybersecurity is going to be an ongoing risk for digital health as it is with any connected product,” said Saxon. “At the USC Center for Body Computing, we are taking a leadership position with product makers as well as regulatory and enforcement authorities to help create safety standards and policies for this fast-paced and rapidly growing area of health care.”

Saxon’s medical background and digital health expertise is aiding industry as well as state and federal governments and agencies to address the accelerating collision of digital health and cybersecurity risks. She is working with California Governor Jerry Brown’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) on best health IT cybersecurity practices in support of the public-private effort known as CyberCalifornia. Saxon is also a member of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) global mobile guidance committee reviewing regulations and standards for medical apps and serves as chair of the Cybersecurity Medical Advisory Board for Abbott.

About the USC Center for Body Computing - Founded in 2006 by internationally-recognized physician visionary Leslie Saxon, MD, the USC Center for Body Computing (USC CBC) is an innovation hub designed to bring together digital and life sciences executives, sensor and mobile app investors, strategists, designers, and thought leaders from healthcare, entertainment and technology to collaborate on transformative health care solutions. The USC CBC is a leader in digital health clinical research and elite athletic performance studies. In collaboration with Keck Medicine of USC, the Center has the ability to conduct clinical trials and performance studies that help define and guide member's product development efforts. The future patient care models being developed at the Center will leverage technology along with physician expertise to bring disease treatment and management options to more people on demand at an affordable cost. For more information visit: uscbodycomputing.org