Xbox One, Kinect 2.0 and the future of health technology

In case you haven’t seen yet, check out this video of the Xbox Kinect detecting a person’s heart rate just by changes in the colors on their skin. This technology was invented by a group of researchers at MIT, and Xbox Kinect is a great way to showcase the applicability of it. Now, I’ve been immersed in the fitness space for the last two years, and one thing we know is the importance of measuring heart rate during physical activity to understand the longterm impact of that activity on an individual’s health. Currently, heart rate monitor is not commonplace, but the Xbox Kinect can change that.

The new Kinect is precise enough that you can measure not only the heart rate of an individual, but the Heart Rate Variability (HRV), which can lead to the diagnosis of many conditions, including stress, depression and many other mental and physical conditions. How exciting is it to imagine standing in front of your Xbox to be given a health report?

And there are scenarios that could exist with this new Kinect that simply don’t exist today. Here is an idea: How about Kinect takes a picture of your body and it’s able to compare to previous pictures and detect new moles, skin conditions or even skin cancer? Absolutely possible! The technology will be there in the next couple of years. There are privacy, ethical and legal concerns, and we’ll need to work through those, but the tech will work.


This is what is, truly, known as a Killer App. Seriously, forget about games, Steven Spielberg TV shows, the whole multimedia living room experience. If these scenarios can be done and achieved using a simple “commodity” product that everyone can have in their living room, this is what will make the Xbox One a true, staggering, market-smashing success.

Having an appliance check a skin mole and say that it’s has grown or changed shape and colour, warning for a possible skin cancer node; or having it take 3d models of a woman’s breasts and comparing it for signs of breast cancer is truly mind blowing. And, seriously, i would buy it just for that. I was never a playstation kind of guy, always preferred to play games on a decent computer, but i would definitely buy it just for the increased safety of daily, in-house health checkups.

How much do you value the health of your wife (or husband or partner)? How much would you pay for having her breast cancer diagnosed in the early ages? Or for noticing something wrong in your heart rate and avoiding a, so common in males, early heart attack? Is two, three or four hundred dollars for this, and for a decade worth of equipment, that much?

Microsoft should really spend some large amount of R&D bucks on the health diagnosis area, biometric data storage, health apps development, and some form of accessory that ensures additional privacy for this kind of applications and put it out there. Seriously, do it! Just pick up the money from the Halo TV Show and spend it on health R&D. The return, for Microsoft, and us, will be tenfold!

The major sea change in media discussions of Obama and civil liberties

There are two significant points to make from these events. First, it is remarkable how media reactions to civil liberties assaults are shaped almost entirely by who the victims are. For years, the Obama administration has been engaged in pervasive spying on American Muslim communities and dissident groups. It demanded a reform-free renewal of the Patriot Act and the Fisa Amendments Act of 2008, both of which codify immense powers of warrantless eavesdropping, including ones that can be used against journalists. It has prosecuted double the number of whistleblowers under espionage statutes as all previous administrations combined, threatened to criminalize WikiLeaks, and abused Bradley Manning to the point that a formal UN investigation denounced his treatment as “cruel and inhuman”.

But, with a few noble exceptions, most major media outlets said little about any of this, except in those cases when they supported it. It took a direct and blatant attack on them for them to really get worked up, denounce these assaults, and acknowledge this administration’s true character. That is redolent of how the general public reacted with rage over privacy invasions only when new TSA airport searches targeted not just Muslims but themselves: what they perceive as “regular Americans”. Or how former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman – once the most vocal defender of Bush’s vast warrantless eavesdropping programs – suddenly began sounding like a shrill and outraged privacy advocate once it was revealed that her own conversations with Aipac representatives were recorded by the government.

Leave to the side how morally grotesque it is to oppose rights assaults only when they affect you. The pragmatic point is that it is vital to oppose such assaults in the first instance no matter who is targeted because such assaults, when unopposed, become institutionalized. Once that happens, they are impossible to stop when – as inevitably occurs – they expand beyond the group originally targeted. We should have been seeing this type of media outrage over the last four years as the Obama administration targeted non-media groups with these kinds of abuses (to say nothing of the conduct of the Bush administration before that). It shouldn’t take an attack on media outlets for them to start caring this much.

Glenn Greenwald –

We Need A Standard Layered Image Format

This format is flexible, it’s easy to implement, and Adobe, if you are listening you should really give SQLite a serious look. And if there are any other companies out there wanting to work on this- please get in touch with me ( I’m not married to Acorn’s format or table names, but I think it would be a great start.

It’s 2013. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could hand off a single layered file format to multiple image editors, and it would just work?

The Shape of Everything