Open-Source Your Body

March 18, 2013
An 11-day contest at MIT aims to create an open-source platform where apps that track aspects of your bodily health can exchange information
The fourth annual MIT Health and Wellness Hackathon, sponsored by the Lab’s New Media Medicine research group, was held last month as a collaboration to help improve digital healthcare by creating an open source platform where apps that track all different aspects of your bodily health can exchange information.
The competition, that started mostly as MIT students spending their winter vacation experimenting with open-source innovation, now includes a partnership assembly of professors, doctors and students, as well as engineers from sponsor companies like Pfizer and Novartis. The contest also provides each team with on-site mentors in the form of software developers, professional UI designers, video teams and more.
So what did the teams come up with this year? reports on the contenders:
  •  AEON Health’s Parkinson’s Disease Devices: One group created a Web-based platform that would enable Parkinson’s disease patients to manage their symptoms at home. The “Tremo Cup,” which patients would use to take their medication, would also help detect tremors, monitor data, assess effectiveness of medication and more. The “Brady Glove,” with sensors in each finger, would help doctors/neurologists assess the severity of symptoms and serve as an early warning system for complications. 
  •  Beacon: A team focused on congestive heart failure built the “Beacon,” a monitoring device that would allow the elderly suffering from chronic conditions to be monitored within their homes. Wireless sensors track the data of movement, medication and vitals and can alert doctors to significant changes and emergencies.  
  •  Epicenter: Focusing on controlling epileptic seizures, one team created the “Ketogenic Diet App,” which allows patients to track their meals, measure their ketones and report adverse effects to physicians. The app also builds in recipes and meal suggestions, and encourages compliance via patient progress reports. The group also created a seizure-tracking tool and a gaming device using a neurofeedback cap so doctors can measure brain currents and skin response for biofeedback. 
  •  hiVIVA: One group focused on helping HIV/AIDS patients with compliance by creating an app that uses gaming, contests and a virtual pillbox to encourage users to take their pills. Data is sent in real-time to the patient’s physician, and an accompanying device will eventually allow a patient to easily test his own blood. 
  • My Op: This app is catered towards helping patients who are about to undergo surgery for endometriosis learn about what to expect beforehand, while post-operatively, helping doctors assess how their recovery is going. 
  • Pressure Free: One team created an app where patients can track and lower blood pressure with minimal involvement by their doctor. The app has three integrated devices: a blood pressure cuff that sends data to a dashboard; a “Fitbit” to measure patient movement; and a pill container that monitors how many pills remain. 
Published in the March 2013 issue of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
About the Author

Michele Vaccarello Wagner | Senior Editor