The company is also working on an interesting beta project that turns an Xbox Kinect into a physical therapy coach. It counts reps and monitors the body's movements to ensure the exercises are being done properly.
The GeoPalz ibitz PowerKey activity tracker and paired mobile app are just for kids. The $50 pedometer, counts steps as "keys," which are points that can be collected to win prizes on Amazon, unlock game levels and earn badges. Parents can check in on their kids' progress on their own smartphones.
A headset that detects the brain's electrical activity is being used to improve children's mental health. NeuroSky's $149 Focus Pocus game, released last year, helps people with ADHD hone concentration and impulse control skills. Players don the a headset and place an attached sensor on their forehead, which can tell when they are concentrating or distracted. As they play the wizard-themed game, they are rewarded for focusing and completing tasks. Trials of the game saw improvement in concentration after a period of training.
More recently, Puzzlebox used the same technology to power a toy helicopter. Less therapeutic and more just cool, the Orbit flies up when you concentrate and can drop back down when you break concentration. The product, which started as a Kickstarter campaign, costs $189 and will begin shipping soon.
Monitoring the chronically ill and seniors
Some of the most promising developments in the health tech area are for people with chronic issues such as heart failure, Parkinson's, hypertension or diabetes.
With the right sensors and apps, they can take a reading at home and transmit data to the cloud, where their doctors can monitor progress and look for red flags that they might miss during a short office visit.
Ideal Life's connected systems include small devices that measure blood glucose, blood pressure, heart rates and oxygen saturation, and it has a scale specifically for congestive heart failure patients. At CES, the company announced it was teaming up with ADT on an integrated alert system.
These remote health management services are appealing to hospitals, doctors and health programs because they can cut down on costly medical care by catching issues early and helping people avoid trips to the emergency room. But all that data being collected is valuable in other ways. Providers can amass the anonymous data for all patients to look for trends, assess programs and fine-tune treatment programs.
Having an outsider be notified of changes in health is also helpful for senior citizens living on their own. Instead of the classic emergency buttons worn around the neck, sensors can alert care givers to anything out of the ordinary. They don't even need to be health sensors. Connected home systems such as Lowe's Iris can be programed to send a text message when a senior doesn't do a regular activity such as opening the fridge or turning on a light.
A final smartphone-connected gadget for seniors (or anyone who takes a lot of pills) is the clever uBox. This round, functionally designed box reminds people when it's time to take their pills with a combination of beeps, blinking lights and smartphone reminders.
If they've already taken the pill for that time period, the box remains locked so anyone who is forgetful or suffering from dementia won't take a double dose. The uBox will notify family members or health care providers if a dose is skipped. The company, founded by MIT engineers, is raising money on Indiegogo.