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HealthVault Hacks For Kinect-Not Yet But How About Climbing Stairs Using Microsoft Tags With Automated Input to The PHR

Posted Jan 03 2011 12:46pm

There’s a lot in the news about Kinect today and I wrote about the possibility of one last week and well it’s not quite there yet but in principle, it’s close with tracking and receiving information.  Below is the post about World of Warcraft and it’s got a pretty neat video with a hack from USC and they talk about how Kinect can be a health tool.

Could HealthVault Develop a Hack For Kinect Like World of Warcraft Has? (Video)image

In short this is what I said last week:

“Now that you can literally calibrate your body with the Kinect hack from USC it could make working with your PHR a little more fun and there’s also the games that help you get more exercise, so perhaps HealthVault needs to add an interface with using your body to work the program?  Anyone else think this is a good idea?  There could be a separate section in HeatlhVault to store you games and see what your heart rate is while playing? “

Sean from HealthVault wrote back and told me that it’s getting closer and about a new software application he created for recording information into HealthVault using Microsoft Tags for those climbing stairs in the Microsoft building and here’s what he had to say:

“This is totally cool! We have been hoping to see more "gaming" style applications show up on top of HealthVault --- being able to easily make existing games "active" is a fantastic idea and sets us up to be much more integrated into daily life. image

Perhaps the hack we should work on is to to just help people "capture" the physical activity they do, independent of the specific game --- that is, as long as we see you moving using the Kinect we can capture those as HealthVault "exercise" sessions.

This is kind of like an app I built as an experiment here at work that tracks people using the stairs (vs. the elevator) here at work and saves that activity to HV --- except that one takes explicit action using Microsoft Tags in the stairwells.

So much cool stuff to do! Once my buddy Umesh finishes our work on the "Direct" secure messaging project --- he is raring to go on the next incubations too. I can't wait! 

Fun stuff indeed. Next on the list --- Kinect !”

So here is the stairwell exercise program using Microsoft Tags and if you read here enough I talk about the FDA and device and drug companies needing to look into this for Recalls as it would certainly make the process easier.  Bar codes do make tasks go a lot easier and it’s almost simpler than using your cell phone to make phone calls.


Even the White House could use a Surface table and Tags to keep unwanted guest out when events occur and here’s a post from 2009 talking about it. 

You can read more below at how an encrypted gateway connecting Microsoft Tags to both Google Health and HealthVault is already available, so the stairs with bar code Tags makes perfect sense. 

For now we can tune in and see what happens with the exercise in the stairwells.  It does make sense to be able to record any type of activity or exercise in HealthVault if you want an easy and “secure” way to record your activity versus using something where you don’t know who if any 3rd parties might have access.  BD

Microsoft Health Solutions works out of a pretty classic suburban office building --- seven total floors, three underground for parking and four for humans. The building is pretty much a rectangle, with a central elevator core and two stairwells, one at each end. Most of the space is taken up by individual offices (thanks to Microsoft's long-standing tradition of trying to give each employee some personal space), but also includes conference rooms, a couple of computer labs, kitchens and bathrooms, and some small common areas.

Most of us range between floors during the day --- not least of all me, whose office is on floor two while my entire team is on --- really --- one, three and four. And I'm always amazed at how many people will sit and wait for freaking EVER for the elevators to show up rather than just taking the stairs. Now don't get me wrong --- as much as I'd like to be I'm not Mr. Fitness myself --- but sheesh, it's not like this is a high rise or anything.

This seemed like a perfect opportunity for a fun and simple HealthVault app --- one that would encourage folks to add a little exercise to their day by choosing the stairs as part of an intra-office image competition. And thus was born " Stairs " --- an experimental (and still not totally finished) HealthVault app that tracks total time spent and elevation gained while climbing stairs.

The easiest way to think about Tag is that it's just a shortcut for typing a URL into your phone (this isn't completely fair, but works for my purposes here). The Tag application takes control of the camera and uses it to scan a 2D barcode. Encoded into the barcode is a URL, which image Tag automatically sends to your phone's browser. It is pretty dang slick, and makes it feasible for mobile apps to use long, data-rich URLs that would be otherwise just ridiculous to try to enter on a phone.

Tags made the user experience really easy. After a one-time registration process that links a phone to a specific HealthVault record with a persistent cookie, all the user does is scan a tag when they enter and exit the stairwell. Each stairwell door has a unique barcode and URL that identifies the stairwell, the floor and the elevation (by a count of stairs from the lowest level) at that doorway. For example:

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