Posts Tagged ‘apple’

Apple’s Healthbook is visionary—and parochial

by emily on April 17th, 2014 - Comments (0)

Dirk Knemeyer has a few questions about Apple’s ideas for a mobile medical solution.

This coming June, Apple is expected to announce their “Healthbook” app. In a bold expansion on the concepts of Involution’s hGraph app, Apple is attempting not only to federate all of a user’s important, top-level health and wellness data but also to synchronize with hardware devices that do everything from analyze blood to count steps to monitor heart rate.

Healthbook mockup

Mockup of Healthbook screen published to Behance this past February.

hGraph, your health in one picture

hGraph, the only open source visualization for your complete health, developed by Involution Studios.

There is an enormous need for this kind of software. Right now hundreds of companies are shipping devices that collect or track health and wellness information, but locking that data into proprietary interfaces that they are trying to monetize in order to sustain a business. This bottom-up approach worked in validating the market, but it is not at all consumer-friendly in the aggregate. It is too hard for a user who knows how all of his or her different services work to get a good picture, let alone a doctor or emergency healthcare professional. Having one software interface where all of your data is tracked and displayed is clearly the correct solution. Someone certainly needs to do it. The question is, is Apple the right company to be doing it?

Emphatically: No, for three reasons.

  1. Apple is terrible at software. Can you name one piece of software that Apple makes which is really excellent? From iTunes to Mail to Pages to iCloud, one is worse than the other. OS X? Used to be the best, largely thanks to engineering, not design, but as they try to unify their desktop and mobile operating systems and user experience, it gets worse every day. Keynote? OK, I will grant you Keynote. But Apple has a long track record of being astonishingly good at hardware and cover-your-eyes-bad at software. Maybe they get it right here—I hope they do—but as my Mail app continues to misbehave and iCloud remains unusable after more than a decade of trying, I can’t fathom that they will.
  2. Health information access needs to be universal and consistent, not specific to mobile OS providers. Apple, Google, and Microsoft are locked in a battle for digital supremacy. Rather than search for solutions that are complementary they are each trying to create their own OS, their own devices, and their own mapping programs. If they are now also providing their own Healthbook equivalents, it could present a serious challenge. Do we expect healthcare professionals to train up on three different software environments? What happens to your Apple data if you change to Microsoft, will it be lost or just offline and not integrated? Do these shortsighted competitors have the vision to cooperate?
  3. Apple’s parochial interests will stifle innovation. The totality of this picture is a complex one. Apple, correctly, is trying to bring together a tremendous amount of health data and information from potentially very different sources and devices. Meanwhile, they are rapidly patenting various hardware, software, and input and output mechanisms aimed at the rapidly expanding mobile medical device market. Each success brings Apple closer to developing a Healthbook that is more proprietary, less universal, and infinitely less useful in the long-term and/or outside of the Apple bubble.

Ideally this sort of software would be created by an international non-profit focused solely on health and wellness as part of a blueprint for healthful humanity. Among their initiatives they would make this sort of top-order software as accessible and transferable and standardized as possible. Of course, there is no such organization. It seems like an obvious thing to be funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, but how much Microsoft stock does the Family Gates still hold? Around and around we go.

About Involution’s Health Design Practice
For almost 10 years, Involution has been building software for health companies of every shape and size, from household names like AstraZeneca and Walgreens, to research leaders like the Personal Genome Project and Partners HealthCare. We also work with the most exciting and progressive health startups. We’ve made digital healthcare our top focus.

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Microsoft Surface and the Unified User Experience

by Jon on June 18th, 2012 - Comments (0)

Today, Microsoft fired a significant salvo in the war for a Unified User Experience, with the debut of its Surface tablet. Taking a page from the Apple playbook, Microsoft is creating both the hardware and software for the Surface, a strategy it once executed successfully, with the Xbox 360 gaming console; and twice not so successfully, with the Zune MP3 player and Kin smart phone going down in flames.

Last February, when Apple announced OS X 10.8, Mountain Lion, software industry thought leader Jean-Louis Gassée coined the phrase Grand Unified User Experience to describe what he saw in Apple’s multi-platform operating systems that crossed mobile, desktop, and tablet and shared common foundational design elements. The essential idea was that no matter what the device, the user experience would feel the same, behave the same, and draw on similar patterns. Apple’s Mountain Lion, of course, brings UX elements from iOS back to the desktop experience, completing a cycle of OS behavior.

Just as interesting is Microsoft’s push into Unified UX, with its cross-platform operating systems consisting of Windows 8 and Windows Phone. Windows 8 — the “new Windows for new devices” — will run on tablets, laptops, and high definition all-in-ones; following a similar design structure and architecture. Fluid design tiles, plenty of gestural interactions, and a host of cloud-connected apps form the core of the Windows 8 experience.

The Microsoft Surface tablet

The Microsoft Surface tablet, running Windows 8, is a significant step forward in Redmond’s Unified UX strategy.

Within this Unified UX, be it Microsoft or Apple, the user will expect their devices to synchronize, not only data, but workflow. Start a conversation on your tablet and finish it on your laptop or phone. Write a document on the laptop and edit it on the way to work on your mobile device. While some of this is certainly possible now, the new Unified UX will further integrate the separate device experiences to make them seem like they fit together naturally.

In the coming war then, for a Unified User Experience, on one side we’ll have Google with its Android / Chrome OS, on another Windows 8 / Windows Phone, and, in the strategically enviable forward position, at least for the moment, of course Apple and OS X / iOS. With its reveal of the Surface tablets, Microsoft took a significant step forward today. How soon will Apple start feeling the heat? And how soon will Google step up its game?

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What the iPad Retina Display Means for Designers

by Jon on March 7th, 2012
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Today Apple revealed the third generation iPad with its Retina screen, bringing the most powerful mobile visual display to market with a whopping 326 ppi in its 9.7 inch space. Print resolutions typically range from 300 – 1800 dpi, which means that Apple has effectively brought mobile computing into that same realm, a significant step to say the least. […]

The Internet of Things, Seeding Boston Start Ups, and One User Experience for All

by Jon on February 22nd, 2012
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Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our links round up.

The Internet of Things Will Rise in Boston
With the advent of the mobile revolution, we’re now living connected lives, where our day-to-day activities are closely tied to the digital products and services that we carry with us everywhere […]

Laptop Music, Kinected Hacking, and Supply Chain Design

by Jon on November 9th, 2011
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Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our links round up.

If You Make Sure You’re Kinected, the Xbox is on the Wall
Last week, Microsoft’s Kinect turned one year old, and the Redmond giant celebrated the “Kinect Effect” with a video highlighting future applications of the technology from […]

What’s Next?

by Dirk on October 6th, 2011
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As countless, near-identical Steve Jobs obituaries spew out of the blogosphere/Twitterverse today, let’s honour his contribution by doing what he did best: anticipating at what will be next…

As Robert Fabricant eloquently wrote in a recent Fast Company article, Apple achieved the pinnacle of design as represented by past forms. Their use of analog metaphors and comfortable affordances […]

Cloud Co-opetition, Hurricane Irene Infovis, and Nokia’s New Design Emphasis

by Jon on September 3rd, 2011
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Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our links round up.

Visualizing Irene
For those of us on the Eastern seaboard of the United States, last week was quite a ride, starting with Hurricane Irene wrecking havoc all the way from North Carolina to Massachusetts, and continuing with an arduous […]

Wearable Health Tech, Beautiful Subway Stations, and Democratizing Data Analysis

by Jon on August 27th, 2011
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Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our links round up.

Health Tech: Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve (or Maybe Your Arm)
It won’t be long before the walk-in medical clinic gives way to the walking medical clinic. Wearable medical technology that can monitor heart rate, blood glucose levels, […]

Technology, Health, and Our Memory of Art in the Internet Age

by Jon on July 27th, 2011
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Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our links round up.

The Therapeutic Touch of the iPad
The iPad may be the most important new computing device since the PC, as evidenced by its beautiful interactions, rapid adoption, and stunning sales numbers. With the iPad and the proliferation of tablet […]

Practical Tips for Producing a Professional Podcast

by Jon on July 21st, 2011
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As an experienced musician and occasional audio engineer, I was excited by the prospect of producing The Digital Life, a podcast on design and technology, which is sponsored by Involution Studios. Over nearly a year of production, we’ve learned a great deal about creating an online radio show. Every so often we get requests from friends of the show […]

Lion Roars, Google Labs Shuts its Doors, and Math Gets a New UI

by Jon on July 20th, 2011
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Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our links round up.

Lion Roars
Apple launched the latest version of their ground breaking OS X operating system today with a host of UI innovations culled from their iOS mobile platform. As might be expected, these innovations were met with both […]

Seven and Seven: A Look Back on Involution’s History

by Jon on July 7th, 2011
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Last week Involution Studios celebrated seven years in business. We’ve had a bunch of highs, a handful of lows, and a whole lot of fun in that time. We’ve had amazing employees, partners and clients, and even as another recession seems to be looming we are going strong and showing no signs of slowing down. Here are the seven most […]

A new era of IT consolidation?

by Dirk on September 13th, 2010
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I don’t use the moniker “IT” very often, typically only to talk about the internal stuff at my company that has to do with computing technology in the vaguest way. Under “IT” falls our hardware and software that runs the gamut of business technology: computers, phones, Internet connection, printers, other peripherals…everything. However, with the recent wave of unexpected and in […]

Point n’ click, bon voyage!

by Eric on August 30th, 2010
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I recently returned from a 2 week vacation and my source of digital consumption was with my iPhone or iPad. So for 2 weeks I was only using a touchscreen – and digging it.

Once I settled in back home I booted up the desktop, waited for the dock to load and then grabbed my mouse. With my first push […]

Implications of a “desktop iPad”

by Dirk on August 24th, 2010
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The press is reporting today on a patent filed in January by Apple for what amounts to a “convertible” iMac – Apple’s line of large screen all-in-one desktop computers – that also functions as a giant desktop iPad. This sort of device is certainly inevitable, in one form or another. The evolution introduced to everyday computing by the […]

The end of the mouse

by Dirk on July 27th, 2010
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Leave it to Apple to turn speculation of the future obsolescence of the mouse as a computing input device into present reality. Today Apple launched the Magic Trackpad, a mouse replacement that accomplishes all of the input interactions of the mouse as well as all of the input interactions of portable computing devices such as the iPad and […]

Apple’s real iPhone vulnerability

by Dirk on July 15th, 2010
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Today the Droid X was released, Android’s latest salvo in the smartphone wars.

I’m taking an interest in Android phones because, as an iPhone user, I’ve been waiting for them to put the white version of the iPhone 4 on sale. Well, they still haven’t done it. Along with the well-publicized reception issues I’ve become more and more […]

Google App Inventor: an interesting little app

by Dirk on July 13th, 2010
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Unveiled yesterday, Google App Inventor aspires to provide everyday people – extensively tested with sixth graders – to easily build their own Android apps using a relatively simple WYSIWYG editor. The interaction model appears based on LEGO toys, taking different, interchangeable pieces and snapping them together to create a complete app. The New York Times exclusively introduced the […]

Open vs. Closed: A tale of idealists vs. realists

by Dirk on May 13th, 2010
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Today Adobe launched an aggressive ad campaign skewering Apple’s “closed” philosophy. Retaliation for Apple’s muscling Adobe’s Flash technology off their mobile operating system, Adobe is choosing to take a “high ground” argument by ignoring their specific exclusion and focusing instead on the closed ecosystem Apple prefers.

The Rise of Google, Part III: A decade of leadership awaits

by Dirk on March 3rd, 2010
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At the dawn of this new decade, Google sits comfortably atop the computing industry. Dominant in search – still the killer app of the Internet, with all due respect to social networking – Google has a variety of other essential and emerging products that put them at the very pinnacle of software.

The Apple “tablet”: what to expect

by Dirk on January 25th, 2010
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Tomorrow is the expected announcement of the new Apple “tablet” computer. Predictions for this device are all over the map, ranging from a “true” tablet computer, down to an oversized iPhone, and everything in between. I don’t have any inside information about Apple, but I think I have a pretty good idea what this new device is going to be. […]

The Rise of Google, Part I: A history lesson

by Dirk on January 12th, 2010
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This is part one of a three-part series that will detail Google’s rise to becoming the dominant company in the computing industry. Part one will review the history of IBM and Microsoft, Google’s predecessors in this position; part two will take a close look at the last decade in computing and particularly at Google’s; and part three will look into […]

Adrift in a ubicomp world

by Dirk on October 12th, 2009
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It is generally accepted among the design intelligentsia that Apple is designing better software and hardware than pretty much everybody else in the core areas they choose to play. Yet there is one area where they have notably failed – if only by non-participation – yet stands as one of the most vital hardware solutions in the present and future: […]