At the Health 2.0 event in San Francisco last week, the West Wireless Health Institute's CEO Don Casey announced that Alan Viars' startup Videntity had won the Institute's developer challenge, Accelerating Wireless Health Adoption through a Standardized Social Network Platform. The contest called on developers to find a low-cost, secure way to share real-time health information from a personal health device (like a connected weight scale) to a social network (like Facebook). Viars did just that.
"Our benefactors Gary and Mary West are just absolutely wonderful people," Casey told attendees at Health 2.0. "They are very concerned about lowering healthcare costs as a way of creating economic growth in the future for the next 50 to 100 years. They've challenged us to find great ways to get the consumer more involved. And what better way to take advantage of consumer involvement than to find a way to get a secure, open platform with a low-cost way of getting sensor data onto the social networks? I know that I, personally, have a very competitive brother -- I can't wait to announce the winner, because I will now have a way of showing my weight scale versus his. I've got him by 16 pounds! So, I'm feeling very good about it. Our winner is Alan Viars from Videntity."
Viars winning submission included "a demo where you can step on a [Nintendo] Wii [balance board] and it uploads your weight to the Internet" via Facebook, According to the Baltimore Sun. Since the platform is open, however, it could work with various devices or sensors and a variety of social networks besides Facebook.
"I wanted to design a platform that would allow users to customize, personalize and easily manage their personal health data in a fun, interactive way," Viars stated in the press release. "I also knew that I wanted to build an open source solution that enables innovators to easily build interesting health applications such as games and challenges. I envisioned a solution where consumers have the choice of how they want to engage, whether it is through a medical device, a mobile phone, or a social network. Being able to manage weight, activity level, and blood pressure from anywhere, and then share that data across social platforms, motivates people to modify their behavior through networks that they are already using."
This morning the Institute announced a new developer challenge as it kicked off its Health Care Innovation Day event in Washington DC. According to a report in The Hill, the Veterans Affairs Department and the non-profit West Wireless Health Institute "plan to partner on a new contest aimed at spurring the invention of wireless solutions — with a prize headed to the inventor who best addresses veterans' health needs." The prize is once again $10,000. More on this competition as the news breaks.