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Customized Wearables to Lead Healthier Lives

Harnessing open source wearable technology to improve health of millions of people by uniting OpenIDEO developers for a common purpose.

Photo of Kyaw Tun Sein

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Who is the target audience for your idea and how does it inspire the end user to lead a healthier life?

The concept is targeted for Hispanic Americans for now but it would benefit everyone. The core idea is to build a wearable device customizable with different sensors for five main categories; (1) Overall Health, (2)Obesity, (3)Diabetes, (4)Heart Disease and (5) Lung Cancer. The users will be able listen to the voice of their bodies and get insightful answers. The software platform will be tailored for each category and built with fun, visual, interactive, motivating and educating elements.

1.    IDEA

There are three elements to this idea; (1) Open-source wearable platform, (2) OpenIDEO community and (3) Common purpose. Since we are on OpenIDEO, elements (2) and (3) are already in place. For open-source wearable health platform, SAMSUNG's SIMBAND and SAMI are a good fit. Simband is modular reference platform for wearable health sensors. We can modify multi-sensor module for Simband or build and integrate our own custom health sensors. Then we can build applications for it.

Simband + Sensor Module (Simsense) 

The types of sensors to be added are up to our decisions. To mention a few;

  • Accelerator (ACC)
  • Bio-Impedance (Bio-Z)
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Photoplethysmogram (PPG)
  • Galvanic Skin Response (GSR)
  • Skin Temperature (Thermometer)
  • Blood Volume Pulse (BVP)
  • Electrodermal Activity (EDA)

2.    Product Concept


I will pick some sensors for each category as an example. The options are unlimited.

- Overall Health

ACC (Activity Tracking), ECG or PPG or EDA or combination (Stress Level Tracking), ACC (Water Intake Tracking: need to make product design changes)

- Obesity

Bio-Z (Calorie Tracking : Questionable), ACC (Activity Tracking)

- Heart Disease

ECG or Bio-Z (Heart Rate Tracking), ACC (Activity Tracking)

- Diabetes

Bio-Z [Questionable] or Electromagnetic [Questionable] or Reverse Iontophoresis (Glucose Level Tracking), ACC (Activity Tracking)

-Lung Cancer

PPG (Respiratory Tracking), ACC (Activity Tracking)


The software application can be tailored for each category as well within one integrate platform to give personalized insights. There are benefits to this. To mention a few;

- Heart Disease

Safe Exercise Intensity is important. Warning signs of a heart attack. Alerting family members.

- Lung Caner

Breathlessness is a common condition. Breathing exercises are important. Drugs can have side-effects of anxiety and depression and coughing effects sleep.

Some ideas;

  • Good examples of Motivation Element can be seen in Fitbit and Jawbone.
  • Education Element like nutrition tips and healthy recipe videos
  • Social Element
  • Pill Identifier
  • Access to doctor or Find a doctor
9to5's imagination of Apple Healthbook

3. Delivery

Need to come up with some idea about the affordable delivery model for end users.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

SIMBAND Development kits can be ordered from SAMSUNG. However, it is currently in pre-order phase for developers. Alternatively, We could use 'BITalino' boards and its biosensors or other Open Source boards like Arduino Pro Mini to make early prototypes. - Select a preventable disease and decide on tracking parameters - Make prototypes and document the making. - Do early experiments in my community to get feedbacks. Others can follow and do the experiments in their communities.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to connect with from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea?

Everyone. It is OpenIDEO after all. I can't wait to collaborate and see where we are going to end up. =)

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

Attachments (1)


My research note + Thoughts


Join the conversation:

Photo of Anneke Stolk

Hi Kyaw,
I like your idea! Thought this might be inspirational for you>

(OpenIDEO Barcelona)

Photo of Kyaw Tun Sein

Hi Anneke! I am really sorry for late reply. I wasn't active on OpenIDEO after posting the idea. Thanks for sharing Smart Buds concept! I am in love with their illustartions. I wasn't able to find time to do some prototyping due to my dissertation. My original plan was to order SIMBAND and hack it. =)

Photo of Christina Le

I love this idea! Expanding off of your nutrition idea, I agree an educational aspect would help increase the adoption of healthier eating habits. Tracking steps, exercise, sleep, etc. are great metrics to encourage a more active lifestyle, however a large part of one's health is determined in the kitchen. There are numerous health blogs with recipes and incorporating a diet plan based on fitness/health goals can help users get all aspects of their health on track. Based on the time of year, presenting recipes based on fruits/vegetables that are in season will teach people how to eat fresh and hopefully local. I cannot wait to see how this project progresses!

Photo of Kyaw Tun Sein

Hi Christina, I am so sorry for late reply. I was busy with my dissertation and I wasn't active on OpenIDEO after posting the idea. Your idea about integrating healthy recipes and the metrics collected by the wearable sounds great! After posting the idea, I ended up not having enough time to carry on doing some prototyping. My original plan was to order the SIMBAND development kit and hack it.

Photo of Tom Short

Kyaw - nice job pulling together a bunch of threads related to personal health monitoring. The OpenIdeo team pointed me your way and suggested we connect and perhaps look for ways to collaborate.

My idea for a wearable health monitor involves finding a biomarker for satiation that can be read through the skin. This would enable a wristwatch-type display readout that would indicate to the wearer when their body's physiological need for food was met, thereby potentially reducing the propensity to overeat. Details are in OpenIdeo here:

You mentioned glucose monitoring for diabetics and some possible types of sensors to be used for this. Have you seen this device: ? (props to for the pointer to this). It's a non-invasive sensor that can read glucose through the skin. The trick to it would be to make a true wearable rather than an episodic sensor which is how it is currently designed. That in turn could require reimagining the device itself, which relies on sending an RF wave through the web space between thumb and index finger, would not be amenable to wearing throughout the day in its present form.

Perhaps a smaller version of it could be built that operates on the ear lobe, and worn throughout the day?

An app would need to be created to interpret the results and monitor the individual's status throughout the day and over time. I could see something like this easily being integrated into whatever app you are envisioning. So that's for the diabetes monitoring.

As for satiation monitoring, I need to do some further followup research on satiation biomarkers, and the degree to which the physiology community still believes such a biomarker might exist.

Anyway, happy to continue the discussion with you, as it sounds like these is some solid overlap between our two ideas.

Photo of Kyaw Tun Sein

Hi Tom! Sorry for late reply. Congrats for moving to refinement! It is a very interesting idea to manage weight! I am currently reading the research paper you have mentioned about bio-markers of satiation and satiety. I find it very fascinating. That is one of the reasons I am quite excited about future wearable. Thanks for sharing.

I saw Glucowise when I was searching for non-invasive glucose monitoring device but haven't explored the technology yet. Your idea about the wearable on the earlobe sounds good.

For satiation monitoring, I also need to research a bit more. I am very interested about finding ways to pick up data of these variables like hormones (CCK and GLP-1) by the wearable tech. It would also be interesting to see if existing wearables (like Apple Watch or Simband) are able to do that with their sensors so that you would only need to build an app with algorithms to pick up data about satiation.

Thanks again for starting the discussion. Let's continue discussing. I will read up and think about ideas for your refinement. Feel free to hit me up with your ideas as they come!

Photo of OpenIDEO

Hi Kyaw, we just featured Customized Wearables on the OpenIDEO facebook page: Perhaps you might like to celebrate the goodness of this idea with your social network!

Photo of Joanna Spoth

So great to see you in the challenge, Kyaw! Your idea is based in research and has a solid foundation, especially because it recognize efforts that are already running and building upon those. I'm excited to see how you might carry out a lightweight experiment or try to get some user feedback on this twist.

Photo of Kyaw Tun Sein

Hi Joanna. Thank a lot for motivation! I am trying to think of ways to do experiments to get user feedback. I am also excited to see how the idea is going to be shaped by OpenIDEO community!

Photo of Shane Zhao

Great have you onboard in the healthy lives challenge Kyaw! We're excited to see that you'll be developing this idea to fit the contexts and needs of Hispanic communities. As you continue to refine your idea, it'll great if you can get more specific about how the wearable tech might cater to Hispanic audiences. i.e. how can the open-source data be drawn from cultural traditions, are there any preventable diseases that are widespread in Hispanic communities? Here's a research post that might spark some food for thought:

Also, to echo Joanna's suggestion, it'll be help to start thinking about a light-weight experiment. Perhaps you can start by helping people better grasp how this idea could play out by describing some of the proposed activities you've outlined. Check this example: where a few simple scenarios were created to explain the goodness on the idea in a human-centered way.

Looking forward to how this idea will evolve!

Photo of Kyaw Tun Sein

Hi Shane! Thanks for the suggestions! I will research more about Hispanic community to tailor this concept. I chose these five categories because they are mentioned in Telemundo's initiative 'Prevention is Life'. I have been thinking about what category to make the prototype to test the concept. I will come up with the decision very soon. I will keep you updated. =)

Photo of OpenIDEO

Great build on Telemundo's Prevention is Life initiative. Looking forward to the next update Kyaw!

Photo of Caio De Matos

Wow, That's an awesome idea, Kyaw! Congratulations!

I have a question there though: The idea here is to provide assistance and monitoring to people that have already been diagnosed with those health conditions, have I understood it correctly? Could it we make it so people who still do not have a diagnosed condition could be more aware of their health so they could seek medical assistance if there is any changes? Most of those conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome or cancer are easily treated if the symptoms are found early, but most people don't really notice them, or feel they aren't important. I think the product you propose might be a powerful tool to raise awareness about our own health.

In that case though, besides a great user interface and experience (which is important to both groups, the diagnosed and the undiagnosed ones), what could this product offer that would make people without a diagnosed condition use it to monitor their health?

Photo of Kyaw Tun Sein

Hi Ciao! Thanks! The idea starting point is to monitor and give insights to people in five categories. 'Overall Health' is for healthy people and others are for people with diagnosed conditions. So, you understood it correctly. But I am starting to see the greater benefits from helping general healthy population to prevent from potential diseases as you pointed. Thanks for sharing your thinking! The idea is raw and I am excited to see how it is getting shaped by us.

Great question! You are right. It is important to think about benefits for people without diagnosed conditions, 'Overall Health'. Because benefits are obvious for other categories but how is this device different or better from Fitbit or Jawbone for 'Overall Health' category is a right question. From Burt's idea, users can build profiles with their DNA data and then monitoring can be tailored to their specific needs.

The benefits I am focusing is the modular design of the device for users. For example, Jawbone releases a newer version of activity tracker (UP4 with Bio-Z) and users with old UP need to buy a new one. With modular design, we can replace only the new sensor module.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts again! Please feel free to share any thoughts or ideas! I will keep thinking about ideas for benefits on 'Overall Health'. =)

Photo of Burt A

Perhaps one of the things you might be able to do with people, who are otherwise healthy, is to provide data that will allow them to see how their choices affect there 'health score.'

I'm thinking something like Google Analytics. The hourly or daily score is recorded of the 5 areas you are monitoring, but you allow some 'quick buttons they can push to record eating, exercising, hours slept, naps and so on. You might simplify like so

Eating: 1: Healthy Meal 2: Medium Meal 3: Fast Food

so just gross details, so it is simple - couple be a happy, neutral or sad face next to each category for example. The goal is that the could see ok on the days I ate more healthy meals and slept more I 5 health scores are much better.

Think biofeedback devices, in that by being able to 'see' the effects of certain actions you can modify and fine tune your behavior until you achieve an optimal condition (if that makes sense).

Photo of Andrea

Hi Kyaw,
this is very exciting and ambitious project.

Let's talk offline :)

Photo of Burt A

I was unfamiliar with these systems. Very exciting stuff.

I recently had a DNA test to help with some geneology. Since it is possible to identify certain predispositions or medical conditions via this DNA data, it might be cool if you could use the DNA data securely, to generate a 'profile' which could be used to customize monitoring and suggestions. So if you have the DNA markers indicating the risk of heart disease, you generate a secure profile (that doesn't identify your issue specifically) and export that to your device. Then you could tailor the monitoring to reduce the risk factors that might result in, or worsen, this condition by suggesting more or less of various activities etc

Photo of Kyaw Tun Sein

That's a great idea Burt! Thanks! Creating the profile with personal data or especially DNA data is a good thought starter to tailor monitoring as it could unlock many things that users don't even know about. What is your view on home DNA testing? I heard about this start-up '23andMe'. I have added links for you to see. =)

Photo of Burt A

I am using 23andme is popular, as is Family Tree DNA and their are many others. There are also many tools like the free ones on GEDMatch that you can use by exporting your raw DNA data from one of these other services and run other tests (identifying other people you may be related to, archaic DNA matches etc). I saw at least one on the net (maybe 23andme) that would parse the data for medical issues but that information is so personal, and could have such significant consequences if released, that I decided not to submit; I'd probably want some incredible levels of security before I did that at this point -which is why I suggested using a profile which could be 'scrubbed' of some sensitive data first, rather than the raw DNA files. Perhaps you could even have a program that the user downloaded to generate the profile on their own computer, so they could take whatever security steps they wanted, and could selectively remove certain data before submitting i.e. You might have a heart condition and could chose what level of data to include

You have XYZ chromose indicating a high risk of 123 heart attack. What level of data do you want include in profile
1 (default): Include only general information indicating cardiac healthy tips should be part of monitoring ....
2: Include more detailed summary to get better suggestions
3: Do not submit any details about this result (monitoring will use default monitoring presets).

A certain level of paranoia would be healthy.

Photo of Kyaw Tun Sein

Thanks for sharing your view! It is really great to hear your personal view on this. I agree with you about the security of database and also the concept needs to be careful about suggestions to users. Your thinking about users generating profiles with desired security steps sounds brilliant! I am thinking about it now and will let you know if any idea comes up. Please let me know as well if you do!

Photo of Burt A

I will - thank you.

Photo of OpenIDEO

Congrats on this being today's Featured Contribution!

Photo of Kyaw Tun Sein

Thanks! =)