Ambient Info

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For years now, people have freaked out about “information overload.” Although this anxiety might be unfounded (check out Say Anything, by Scott Rosenburg, which I reviewed here), it is undeniable that we are exposed to much more information on a daily basis today than ever before. Entrepreneur David Rose is working on a solution to this problem by designing what he calls “ambient devices,” objects that provide continually updated information in an unobtrusive, minimally brain-taxing way.

My favorite is the Ambient Orb, which looks like a crystal ball and changes colors to reflect the weather, stock prices, or traffic—keeping you appraised of this constantly changing and continually relevant information without requiring your full attention.

His newest project, vitality, “aims to bring that design philosophy to the world of healthcare.”

“The Connect, like the GlowCap Solo, politely blinks at you whenever it’s time to take a medication, and it will play increasingly insistent melodies if you fail to open the cap after an hour. But with the Connect, your prescription number becomes associated with the unique ID on the cap, which then sends messages to our network to tell us when you’ve opened it. We’re presuming that you take a pill when you do that, so we can text or call your phone if you miss a dose or remind you when your medication is running low. And since we’re working directly with pharmacies we can have them automatically send you a refill if you want.

The real point, however, is empowering the individual. Each week, we send you an email tracking your compliance and send a copy of that email to someone else. This could be a doctor, a loved one who’s supporting you, or someone with the same condition that we pair you up with—a health buddy, if you will. But it’s really important that it be left up to you: The data is about you and the control should be in your hands.”

This system could streamline our interactions with the health-care system, reducing anxiety and keeping us healthy.

Check out the rest of Seed Magazine’s excellent Q and A with him here.

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