Taking Your Medicine Online

By Carl Weiss

When it comes to technology, the medical profession is no slouch.  During the course of the past few decades all manners of high-tech diagnostic tools, surgical suites and bionic limbs have become commonplace in doctor’s offices and hospitals.  But what most people are unaware of is the fact that there are a number of revolutionary new technologies that are going to forever change the very way that a visit to the doctor or ER takes place.

Is There a Doctor in the Mouse?

The age of the virtual doctor has already arrived across the US.  Invented by NASA for use on the International Space Station, telemedicine has found its way into a number of hospitals, as well as online.  Telemedicine connects patients with physicians via the Internet, allowing them to skip a trip to the doctor’s office while saving money at the same time.  Several online businesses have created models where patients can teleconsult with a physician, including MDLive, while others such as iRobot have created telepresence robots that allow physicians to interface with patients around the world. Some of the more sophisticated models even allow a surgeon to perform surgery by remote control. 

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to maintaining one’s health via technology.  An entire industry has been spawned for health monitoring devices. Everything from bracelets to watches are currently available that are designed to monitor a wearer’s vital signs and vital statistics as they go about their everyday activities.  One company, AiQ has introduced an entire line of “smart clothing” that does everything from measuring the user’s heart rate, respiration rage and skin temperature.  Their SolarMan vest not only offers the wearer the ability to monitor their vital signs, but it even recharges itself and other electronic devices via built-in solar panels.

While some of these devices are designed to be monitored by the user, others such as products made by BodyTel offer those with chronic illnesses Bluetooth enabled devices that automatically send readings to the user’s doctor. Capable of monitoring and reporting on everything from blood glucose levels to blood pressure, this technology represents a whole new level of health care.

Staying Ahead of the Crowd

While many of the new medical technologies are designed to be worn on the lower extremities, there are several that are meant to be deployed above the neck.  One such device being developed by Imec looks like a prop from Star Trek.  A wearable EEG with built-in EKG patch, the device keeps tabs on your brain and heart activity.  The data collected is then transmitted in real time to a receiver located up to 10 miles from the headset. (If you choose to wear it outdoors I suggest you don a hat.)

That doesn’t mean that this technology won’t eventually be miniaturized to the point that it will fit unobtrusively into a hairband or ball cap.  In fact, at least other medical device pioneer has created the prototype for a blood glucose monitor that resides in a contact lens.  Google recently announces that the contact lens it is designing will measure glucose in tears on a continuous basis using a wireless chip and miniature glucose sensor.  Once available, the device will make a lot of diabetics happy, since the predominant method of testing blood glucose levels involves pricking the finger.

These Boots Were Made for Walking

At the other end of the spectrum, Moticon has introduced the world’s first computerized insole that can be used in any shoe to measure motion for patients and athletes.  The bionic insole comes complete with firmwear that communicates with a user’s computer via a USB radio stick.  In 2010, Moticon was awarded the International Innovation Award for this product.  (Move overDr. Scholl’s !)

Speaking of bionics, just before Thanksgiving 2013, Mick Ebeling returned home from Sudan's Nuba Mountains where he set up what is probably the world's first 3D-printing prosthetic lab and training facility. Called Project Daniel, the effort was begun by one man who learned about a 14-year old double amputee named Daniel.  Flying to Sudan with a 3D printer, Mick not only created prosthetic arms and hands for Daniel, but he vowed to teach the locals how to help many of the 50,000 Sudanese who have lost limbs from the ongoing conflict in the area.  (See the video at http://www.notimpossiblelabs.com/)

Docs in the Box

Of course the internet isn’t only used today by patients.  It is also being increasingly employed by doctors as well.  In fact there is a prominent new social network for the medical industry called MedMasters.com.  This network connects members of the medical community by providing a searchable database of doctors, nurses, medical IT providers, medical recruiters and pharmaceutical sales conduits that is as easy as point and click.  Useful for everyone from healthcare providers to people seeking to enter the industry, this is the interactive go to network for the medical industry.  Best of all, joining the network is free and easy. 

Take Two Diodes and Call Me in the Morning

While many of these cutting edge technologies concern themselves with big ticket issues, there are some that aim to alleviate the small problems that the public faces every day. 
For migraine sufferers help is on the way. For many years, doctors have associated the most chronic forms of headache with the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG), a facial nerve bundle.  Until recently there were treatments that provided long term SPG relief. A new technology under clinical testing at Autonomic Technologies, Inc. is an implantable tool for blocking SPG signals at the first sign of a headache. The system consists of a small nerve stimulating device that can be operated by remote control whenever a patient senses the onset of a headache. The resulting signals stimulate the SPG nerves and block the pain-causing neurotransmitters.

Bear in mind that these are but a few of the latest medical technologies that are being developed to help people live longer, healthier lives.  If you want to learn even more, tune into our “Working the Web to Win” radio show on Blog Talk Radio.  Because the one thing you can say about taking your medicine online is that it doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Carl Weiss is president of W Squared Media Group, a cutting-edge digital marketing agency located in Jacksonville, Florida.  You can also see the Web TV version of Working the Web to Win on YouTube.

New Tech for a New Year

by Carl Weiss

If you thought that 2013 was a rough ride technology wise, wait until you see what's in store for 2014.  If this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas was any indication,when it comes to new tech expect change to be the watchword.  Everything from heads up displays to computers that you wear on your head are on the rise (and I don't just mean from Google).  In fact wearables of all kind were prominently displayed at the show.  Below are a few examples.

The Kiwi Move is one example of a hot new internet-enabled wearable that can be used to track your daily physical activities.Unlike other devices, the Kiwi Move can be worn in a number of locations, including the arm, wrist, ankle, chest or collar.  Not only does the device help count both steps and calories, but it is also designed to interact with the wearer's smartphone.  This allows users to leave voice notes, run apps and more. (Check out today's Working the web to Win radio show to hear a live interview with Kiwi's CMO, Ashley Beattie.)

“The Kiwi Move is our vision for the future of wearable tech, as we look to make single-function devices a thing of the past” said Ali Nawab, Kiwi’s Chief Executive Officer. “We believe that wearable tech products should be multi-functional – “One Kiwi Move, Many Apps.”

What are You Wearing?

While Google Glass got most of the glory when it came to wearables in 2013, everything from smartwatches to Virtual Reality headsets such as occulus Rift and GameFace are rapidly gaining in popularity.  Speaking of game changing technology, 2013 also saw the rise of 3D printing.  2014 will not only see prices for 3D printers continue to fall, but it also introduces a new technology that would seem to be the perfect add-on: 3D Scanning.

SoftKinetic announced at this year's CES that it was partnering with Makerbot to release 3D scanning technology that will allow Makerbot printer owners to scan and print objects.  At the show SoftKinetic's CMO demonstrated the new technology by scanning someone's face, sending the data to the cloud and then using the data to print the face in 3D in a matter of minutes.

Of course, cool new gizmos are not the only sea changes we can expect to see in the coming year. 

Internet Security will become an even bigger problem than it was in 2013. Last year saw a large number of hacker attacks from organized crime, terrorist groups and nations such as the Chinese and Iranians.  The holiday season revealed two large security breaches at major retailers, which is just a taste of things to come. Since hacker tools are available to anyone and everyone and since the prosecution of these crimes is so incredibly lax, we will see a greater number of these events occur in the coming year. 

The problem has become so prevalent that many banks that offer online services are now asking their customers to accept personal responsibility for losses if the bank gets hacked and your money is stolen. That’s right, many banks are now saying you are responsible for your losses if they are hacked! 

Who's Watching the Watchers?

Speaking of security, the NSA is back in the news again, this time for collecting 194 million text messages a day in 2011. Recent leaks from Richard Snowden printed in The Guardian, revealed that project code named “Dishfire” was setup to collect “pretty much everything it can”. This has become quite a liability for the current President who ran on a platform that promised to stop to such behavior. If you think any policy by this administration will curb NSA hacking and domestic spying, you should think again.

Telepresence will continue to grow mainly because fuel costs are high and the cost of flying continues to rise. This form of meeting has made real inroads on face-to-face gatherings. (Our web TV show is a perfect example of this phenomenon.) SAAS products (aka Software As A Service, not to be confused with the NSA) save so much time and money that businesses large and small have been increasingly using them to save time and money.  (I don't know about you but anything that keeps me from spending a 4-hour layover in Atlanta is all right by me.)

Of course if you are looking for the ultimate techno time savers, personal robots are are definitely on The coming of the Robots.”  With $20,000 office automatons like Baxter available, many companies are taking advantage of the availability of robot employees. (Just don't expect it to fetch you a cup of coffee.)  This widespread fascination with robots has led many large companies like Honda, Google and Sony to produce robots that will soon be filling consumer desires to own a droid of their own. This year’s DARPA competition was like a robotic Olympics game that you can check out on their site. the rise.  They are also becoming increasingly more sophisticated. 

So if you are still trying to get a handle on how to use your tablet and smartphone, get ready for new technologies that will once more test your ability to adapt to an ever more wired world.  Now if I can only find a droid that can write these darned blogs, that would be a real time saver.

When Carl Weiss isn't writing blogs he is president of W Squared Media Group, a digital marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the radio show Working the Web to Win which airs live at 4 pm eastern every Tuesday.

Using Humor as a Weapon of Mass Distraction

by Carl Weiss

Being an Internet authority means speaking in front of groups of business people from time to time.  Whether the topic du jour is related to search engine marketing, blogging for business, social networking or the ins and outs of pay-per-click matters not.  What is a certainty is that as soon as the presentation is finished I will find myself buttonholed by someone who wants to know the secret of success online.  It’s as if my dissertation was meant to be an appetizer and the real meat and potatoes of online marketing could only be revealed to those bold enough to corner me after the fact.  “Okay, you got me.  If you really want to generate a million clicks, this is what you have to do...” As much as I wish there were three-magic-beans that could magically transform a stale web presence into a rock star, for the most part there is no such animal.  (As I like to point out to a number of people, I am a technician, not a magician.)

Image representing OraBrush as depicted in Cru...
That being said, the closest I have come to pulling a rabbit out of my hat during my presentation revolves
around a real rags to online riches story involving a product that I would say was least likely to succeed: The Orabrush.  Invented by a tinkerer by the name of Dr. Bob Wagstaff, the Orabrush is not a toothbrush.  It’s the world’s first tongue brush.  After spending tens of thousands of dollars to invent, manufacture and promote the Orabrush, all that Doctor Bob had to show for his efforts was a $40,000 hole in his pocket and about a hundred orders.  (At $3 per unit, you do the math.)

With his business circling the drain and time running out he was desperate to find a way, any way, to turn the tide and produce some sales.  This is where Jeffrey Harmon, a local college student entered the picture.  After listening to Bob wax poetic about the virtues of the Orabrush coupled with the fact that he had little left to spend on additional marketing, Jeff came back with what we in the marketing business refer to as a Hail Mary.

“Why not create and post a funny video on YouTube,” Jeff said.

“How much will that set me back?” Dr. Bob asked.

“Five hundred bucks.”

While I wasn’t there to witness the conversation, from experience I can tell you the thought process going round and round in Dr. Bob’s head...”Let’s see, I’m down forty grand and the Indians are circling the wagon.  What to do?  What to do?”

As you guessed, any shot is better than no shot at all, so Bob gave Jeff the green light and they created the first Orabrush promo on YouTube. (Below is an excerpt from their website to tell you the rest.)

Why read when you can watch our TV Show?

Shot in a makeshift studio in the neighborhood pool hall (listen closely and you can hear the balls cracking in the background), the video went viral, rocketing to 16 million views. After the explosive reaction to their first video, Harmon took on the role as Chief Marketing Officer and began creating regular webisodes, introducing new characters like Morgan, the dirty tongue. Harmon then used YouTube video ads to reach more people and grow their fan base. The “Cure Bad Breath” videos built a loyal following, and their YouTube channel grew to nearly 40 million views.

After two years, Orabrush had sold more than a million tongue cleaners to people in 40+ countries. The Orabrush brand became so popular that local pharmacy managers began contacting Orabrush directly, citing requests from customers who had heard about the brand online. This fall, Walmart began carrying the Orabrush tongue cleaners in its 3,500+ stores across the United States. And this week, CVS/pharmacy has added the Orabrush tongue cleaner to more than 7,000 stores across the country. That’s a lot of tongue cleaners!

It is indeed, Bob.  In fact the OraBrush has done so well that it became the third most viewed channel on YouTube, after Apple Computer and Old Spice.  It appears that tongues weren’t the only things cleaning up with Orabrush.  So was the company.

Of course, Cinderella stories and one trick wonders are as rare as catching lightning in a bottle, am I right?  While using humor to sell can work for the big guys, such as Aflac and their Duck or the Geico Gecko, it is next to impossible for a small business person to use these tactics to break out of the herd.  Or, is it?  To that I have three words of advice: Dollar Shave Club.

A real David and Goliath story, it revolves around a tiny Santa Monica company with five employees that wanted to get into the razor business.  Their opponents, none other than Gilette, owned by the $13 billion behemoth Proctor and Gamble, not to mention Schick and Bic.  Between the three they control nearly 80% of the market.  Unlike Dr. Bob at Orabrush, the president of Dollar Shave Club, Michael Dubin, did not invent a revolutionary shaver.  No, his website simply offers to ship to the consumer their choice of twin blade, four blade or six blade razors every month.  In fact with the exception of their six-blade razor which they claim “Comes from the future and lives in outer space,” their product line offers no flashy bells or whistles with any of its products.  So what made them think they could compete with the Fortune 500?

Have you seen the Dollar Shave Club video?

As much a comedy routine as an advertisement, the Dollar Shave Club’s YouTube video has garnered nearly 13 million hits.  While the company won’t say how many people have signed up for the club, an authoritative source told me that within the first few weeks the site had generated more than twelve thousand members.  That’s after the video had created only a couple million hits.  So who knows how high the number is by now.

The video, which only runs about a minute and a half, shows the president of the company riding a forklift, playing tennis (badly) and dancing with a guy in a bear costume, among other antics.  Far from being afraid of going too far, the titling above their video reads, “Our Blades Are F***ing Great!”  Well, I don’t know about that, but their results were certainly great.

So now you can see that with a little imagination, even major markets can be cracked by the use of humorous video campaigns.  So why aren’t more companies taking a whack at it by creating outrageous videos in order to sell their products?  It can’t be the cost.  Remember the Orabrush got into the game for a paltry $500.  In fact, the beauty of YouTube is that if you generate enough views, not only doesn’t it cost anything to air your webisodes, but Google will actually pay you.  (For the past few years YouTube has had a Channel Partner program that pays their top producers based upon the amount of traffic generated.)

The trick is to do like Orabrush and keep banging away at it.  Throw a few dollars in the hat and sponsor your videos.  Embed them in your blogs and social posts.  If you have a pet, use them as talent.  (Have you seen how many views funny cat and dog videos generate?)  Just get into the game and tap into the world’s most powerful superstation.  (Did you know that YouTube generates 4 billion video views per day or that they stream more video content in a year than all three major networks have streamed in 60 years?)

All I can say is that if you own a business and aren’t tapping into this free marketing resource than you are F***ing Crazy.  Now let me see, where did I leave that razor?

Carl Weiss is president of W Squared Media Group, a cutting edge online marketing company in Jacksonvlle, Florida.  You can also see him on YouTube and listen to his radio show on Blog Talk Radio.

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