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Digital health meets consumer electronics and brain training

There’s no doubt that the biggest buzz at this year’s Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show in Las Vegas didn’t come from the slimmest of tele­vi­sions, the most fash­ion­able head­phones or even a danc­ing robot.

The buzz of CES 2013 was firmly cen­tred on all things health and the Dig­i­tal Health Sum­mit is where the action was hap­pen­ing. On the eve of open­ing Ari­anna Huff­in­g­ton described what was about to hap­pen in Las Vegas as a ‘Per­fect Storm’

I’m talk­ing about one of those moments in which sev­eral trends con­verge to cre­ate some­thing larger, a moment we will look back on as the time every­thing changed ….. this year’s CES has the poten­tial to be one of the most trans­for­ma­tive ever, and that’s because of a sig­nif­i­cant change in atti­tude about what role tech­nol­ogy can, and should, be play­ing in our lives. That’s the foun­da­tion of this per­fect storm”.

And in a show that has pre­vi­ously brought such inno­va­tion as Xbox and the CD player, the real inno­va­tion took place in Dig­i­tal Health and in most cases, the brain was front and cen­ter. It’s per­haps not sur­pris­ing given Sharp­Brains’ most recent state of the indus­try report [1] has found that the global mar­ket­place of dig­i­tal tools for brain health (or “dig­i­tal brain health”) sur­passed $1 bil­lion in 2012 and is fore­casted to reach $6 bil­lion by 2020.

From Muse’s brain sens­ing head­band, Huffington’s own ‘GPS for the Soul’, ‘Hapi­fork’ that tells you when you’re eat­ing too fast and our own online assess­ment and cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­gram, MyBrain­So­lu­tions, the clear mes­sage of CES 2013 was how tech­nol­ogy is deliv­er­ing bet­ter health and well­ness to the widest pos­si­ble audience.

CNN’s San­jay Gupta opened Dig­i­tal health Sum­mit 2013 high­light­ing dig­i­tal health inno­va­tion the mil­i­tary is putting to work on the front­line in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as help­ing vet­er­ans back here in the United States.

Gupta’s keynote set the stage for the rest of the sum­mit and the con­cur­rent dig­i­tal health prod­uct exhi­bi­tion, which filled nearly an entire hall of the mas­sive Las Vegas Con­ven­tion Center.

Fol­low­ing up Gupta was the fea­tured panel dis­cus­sion, “Dig­i­tal Health Rev­o­lu­tion: Body, Mind and Soul” where Huff­in­g­ton was joined by author Deepak Chopra, Sonny Vu from ‘Mis­fit Wear­ables’ and Andrew Thomp­son of Pro­teus Digital.

For Huff­in­g­ton the take­away was simple;

So for me the most excit­ing take­away from this year’s CES isn’t the smart car or the smart home, it’s the smart per­son — the recon­nec­tion of mind, body and spirit. It’s the best way for each of us to regain con­trol of our health, and for our coun­try to regain con­trol of our death-spiraling health care system”.

So, is the proof in the pudding?

What we wit­nessed as both an exhibitor and par­tic­i­pant with a keynote, ‘Your Brain on Tech [2]’, is that the dig­i­tal health rev­o­lu­tion has taken a giant leap for­ward in main­stream adop­tion but where the real chal­lenge lies is in bridg­ing the enor­mous divide between ‘Know­ing’ and ‘Doing’.

How do the myr­iad of mon­i­tor­ing devices, mobile Apps and online health solu­tions deliver real changes for their users if they don’t pro­vide the path for the con­sumer to first Know their con­di­tion and then inter­act and Train their brain in a man­ner that engages and moti­vates behav­ior change?

The brain needs to be at the cen­ter of any dig­i­tal health rev­o­lu­tion and it is already prov­ing to be so with Sharp­Brains pre­dict­ing 10 spe­cific ways in which dig­i­tal plat­forms can change brain health in the short-term [3].

That is why the stand out devices and Apps at Dig­i­tal Health Sum­mit brought know­ing and train­ing the brain into focus as an increas­ing part of the well­ness solution.

From years of research we know the brain inter­prets any change as threat­en­ing, and that it is impor­tant to learn by “doing.” Through brain train­ing, we know con­sumers can develop core capac­i­ties that sup­port mak­ing healthy choices, includ­ing the abil­ity to focus on tasks, learn from mis­takes, over­come impulses, tune into the pos­i­tive, man­age stress and develop resilience.

Sup­port­ing those choices and help­ing peo­ple bridge the gap between Know­ing and Doing will gen­er­ate real behav­iour change that enhances health and wellness.

That is at the heart of the chal­lenge fac­ing the Dig­i­tal Health move­ment; Can the inno­va­tions on dis­play at CES 2013 lead to endur­ing behav­iour change of new brain habits in their users or not?

It’s not the smartest tech­nol­ogy that ends up being adopted main­stream but rather the one that responds and deliv­ers on the consumer’s desire to change and impor­tantly, helps them do that within their already busy lives.

There was much promise at CES 2013 and Huff­in­g­ton is right to say it had the poten­tial to be the most trans­for­ma­tive ever. We’d go fur­ther and say 2013 cemented the posi­tion of the Brain as the true trans­for­ma­tive ele­ment of Dig­i­tal Health.

Who knows what we’ll see as a result at the next Sharp­Brains Vir­tual Sum­mit and CES Dig­i­tal Health Sum­mit.

– Dr Evian Gor­don is the Exec­u­tive Chair­man and Dr Gre­gory Bayer is the CEO of the Brain Resource Com­pany [4]. You can learn more about their work and insights by watch­ing ‘Your Brain on Tech [2]

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