Kaia Health's updated personal trainer app, GoFundMe's antivaxxer ban and more digital health news briefs

Also: Study uses VR to explore autism spectrum disorder brain activity; UPS eyeing in-home healthcare.
By Dave Muoio
03:00 pm

Phone-based workouts. Workout app maker Kaia Health has expanded its service from squat support to full-body fitness with the launch of a new version of its app.

Like its predecessor the Kaia Perfect Squat Challenge, the Kaia Personal Trainer app uses smartphone camera motion tracking to monitor and log the user’s reps, while helping users develop personalized fitness plans. Of note, the company claims that the new version’s motion tracking capabilities have been improved over its previous iteration, which some early App Store user reviews dinged for inaccuracies.


Simulated social interactions. New grant funding for the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital will go toward a novel research project that will combine virtual reality and electroencephalography (EEG) technology to better understand the brain activity of patients with autism spectrum disorder. By placing patients in VR scenarios that simulate social interactions, researchers will be able to view EEG features associated with changes in distress levels, as well as develop new understandings of their relationships with other parts of the brain by employing machine learning algorithms to the findings.

"People on the autism spectrum today have access to effective clinical strategies or technologies, but none are coupled effectively to provide real-time feedback in real-life activities. This limits reinforcement techniques that the patient can utilize on his or her own, without the need for a clinical appointment," Dr. Murat Akcakaya, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pittsburgh’s engineering school, said in a statement. "However, by utilizing EEG to couple clinical techniques with BCI technologies, we can develop a closed-loop system that will help patients better learn how to recognize emotional triggers and respond with appropriate techniques generalizing the effects of clinical treatment strategies to real-life activities.”

A hard stance. Crowdfunding website GoFundMe is the latest tech platform to limit the spread and influence of users promoting vaccine misinformation, the Daily Beast reports.

“Campaigns raising money to promote misinformation about vaccines violate GoFundMe’s terms of service and will be removed from the platform,” GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne told The Daily Beast. “We are conducting a thorough review and will remove any campaigns currently on the platform.”

The site had previously been used to raise funds for messaging campaigns decrying the medically-supported preventive treatment, although Whithorne said that such efforts have so far been rare and already removed by the platform.

Healthcare delivery. Package delivery company UPS is soon to demo a new vaccination service that will dispatch the treatments directly to the customers’ homes, Reuters reports. Aiming to launch later this year, the company’s program will deploy the vaccines to 4,700 US stores and contract home health nurses to make the final delivery and administer the vaccine. Of note, Merck & Co claims to be interested in partnering with UPS for the project.

Reuters characterized UPS’ initiative as the company’s answer to Amazon’s latest healthcare interest, which include Haven, a joint venture between Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan.


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