Digital health news briefs for 12/7/2017

By Dave Muoio
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Two left feet. The iPhone’s built-in pedometer misses approximately 1,340 steps during a user’s typical day, according to a study from the University of British Columbia that compared the smartphones to a purpose-built accelerometer attached to the waist. While some of these missed steps could be attributed to the study’s 33 participants accidentally leaving their phone behind, the researchers cautioned that health studies relying on the phones may not be receiving accurate data.

Emergency telemedicine. With wildfires threatening swaths of southern California, Doctor On Demand has announced that it will be offering its video telemedicine platform to residents of the area at no cost. Along with receiving prescription refills, patients arel now able to receive care for mental health conditions, respiratory conditions, skin and eye irritation, and throat and sinus issues without the need to travel into areas at risk of wildfire.

A living tattoo. Using a novel 3D printing technique, MIT engineers have created ink consisting of living cells that the team has demonstrated as a wearable tattoo patch. In their demonstration, the tattoo consists of cells that are sensitive to different chemical or molecular compounds, and light up with contact. The technology could feasibly have a future in wearable devices, they wrote.

Watch, meet treadmill. Technogym announced today that all of its indoor cardio exercise equipment now interfaces with Apple Watch and its GymKit feature. By tapping the watch against a treadmill or other machine, users can sync their workout data between the two systems to ensure improved metric accuracy.

Games for aging brains. Regularly playing the 3D-platforming game Super Mario 64 led to an increase in hippocampal and cerebral grey matter among adults aged 55 to 75 years, according to a recent study published in PLOS One. These gains contrasted the decrease in grey matter observed among those who did not play the game, while another study group that received computerized piano lessons demonstrated grey matter increases within the cerebellum and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.