Health

Singapore and Apple incentivize citizens and residents to stay healthy

Earn rewards worth up to $380

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With one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world, Singapore is incentivizing its citizens to stay fit and healthy in an entirely new way — using Apple Watch and a new app called LumiHealth.

Created in collaboration with a team of physicians and public health experts, LumiHealth is a personalized program that encourages healthy activities and behavior.

It’s designed by Singapore’s Health Promotion Board in partnership with Apple. The program is part of the country’s Smart Nation initiative, Singapore’s nationwide effort to leverage technology to deliver benefits to its citizens and businesses.

LumiHealth uses behavioral insights to encourage Singaporeans and residents to adopt healthy habits and complete wellness challenges through personalized reminders, programs, activity coaching, and incentives.

Within the LumiHealth app, users travel through worlds with a friendly intergalactic explorer who guides them through tasks that are personalized based on their age, gender, and weight. They include weekly activity goals that can be met through not just walking, but also swimming, yoga, and other activities.

By completing these goals and challenges, users help the intergalactic explorer get back home, all while being able to earn rewards worth up to SG$ 380 over the two-year duration of the program.

An Apple Watch is necessary to participate in the challenges, as is downloading the LumiHealth app from the App Store.

LumiHealth also reminds users to go for health screenings and immunizations, as well as participate in wellness challenges that aim to improve sleep habits and mindfulness as well as encourage better food choices.

“Even as all of us around the world are dealing with the challenges of COVID-19, we must keep investing in our future. And there is no better investment than in our own personal health,” said Heng Swee Keat, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister. “This partnership between Singapore and Apple will enable Singaporeans to lead healthier lives, but equally important, it will contribute valuable insights to improving the health of people all over the world.”

The LumiHealth app, designed with user privacy and security at its core, is available in the App Store for pre-order now, and the two-year program will be offered from late October 2020.

Apps

Ultrahuman: The essential app to get you through quarantine

Getting through isolation days through workout and meditation

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Taking care of our physical and mental health is very much important now more than ever. With everything that has been going on in the world, it’s not surprising that people are taking extra steps to advocate and practice self-care.

One way to do this is by adding good habits everyday and being disciplined to sustain these habits.

With self-care as one of their ultimate goals this year, Martynne and MJ decided to try Ultrahuman: an all-in-one fitness app that includes all the good habits they are currently incorporating in their lives — from workout to meditation.

For a few weeks, they put the app to a test and this is their verdict:

Meditation

Martynne: I am a huge advocate of meditation and it has been a life-changing practice for me, as someone who finds a hard time focusing and being in the present.

Ultrahuman has a wide range of course options that can match a specific mood or emotion. One of my personal favorites is the Managing Anger course, which helped me take a step back, consolidate my feelings and give compassion to myself throughout the process.

The Singles option with one-time meditation tracks helped me become more mindful and grounded whenever I feel overwhelmed in the middle of a workday. The productivity course, on the other hand, kept my eyes glued to my laptop screen until I finished what I needed to do.

The only thing I didn’t like about it, though, is the visuals seem basic to me, and the “dark” interface is much more fitting for the workout option.

Workout

MJ: When gyms are closed and home workouts aren’t fun anymore, how do you remain committed to your fitness goals? That’s what Ultrahuman did: Filling the gap by providing fun workouts and challenges that you can do in a span of weeks. It’s similar to how Nike Training Club presents their videos albeit more personalized.

The Ultrahuman app comes with guided videos from renowned trainers, and watching their instructions during your exercises felt like having a live session with a personal trainer. Unlike most fitness apps that offer video-on-demand workouts, Ultrahuman remembers that we are all beginners, offering a collection of videos through challenges that suit different levels.

After living a sedentary lifestyle, I knew I have to ease up when working out again. The app did wonders in helping me stay active by gradually increasing the difficulty of my challenges, without straining my body or having myself complain about how difficult a certain workout routine is.

Sleep

Martynne: There was an instance that I had a bad case of insomnia and I needed something to put me to sleep.

I tried listening to Ultrahuman’s Bedtime Stories and it reminded me of the sleep podcasts I used to listen to on Spotify.

The voices are relaxing, and the stories come with meditation and sound effects, but I realized I can be impatient with slow stories. I resorted to the app’s soundscapes and brain music, and they helped a lot to relax my brain and finally shut my eyes off.

I don’t exactly know what’s the science behind brain music, but they really work sometimes.

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Enterprise

Microsoft acquires speech recognition firm Nuance for $20 billion

The second most expensive acquisition by Microsoft

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Nuance
Photo by Reuters

Microsoft has acquired speech recognition and healthcare firm Nuance for a whopping US$ 19.7 billion. The deal will give the Redmond-based giant deeper access to hospitals and the healthcare industry, in general, via its medical dictation and transcription tools.

The announcement is a clear indication that Microsoft is looking for new verticals to improve growth. Recently, the company was interested in buying Discord, a gaming-centric instant messaging service, for a massive sum of US$ 10 billion.

Nuance has been a pioneer in voice-based artificial intelligence and was pivotal in powering Apple’s Siri. Since then, it has shifted to healthcare and, specifically, a transcribing tool that writes up the conversations between physicians and patients.

As part of this deal, Microsoft will pay US$ 56 per share for Nuance, a 23 percent premium over the company’s last closing price. Microsoft can use Nuance’s technology with its existing software like Teams or even offer it independently as part of its Azure cloud business. Simultaneously, it can gradually increase the presence of Azure and other connected products within a physician’s clinic.

For the longest time, Microsoft was dependent on the consumer business and relied mostly on Office and Windows for revenue. This has radically changed in the last few years with increased investment in AI, machine learning, and cloud computing.

Microsoft said Nuance CEO Mark Benjamin would remain at the company and report to Scott Guthrie, who is in charge of its cloud and artificial intelligence businesses.

The Nuance acquisition is the second most expensive in Microsoft’s history. The first being LinkedIn’s deal, valued at US$ 26 billion.

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Health

Facebook will convert its California HQ into a vaccination site

Helping end the pandemic

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Vaccination
Image by Hakan Nural

Facebook said it’s converting a part of its Menlo Park headquarters into a vaccination site, joining the government effort to speed up the US’s vaccination drive. The technology company is going out of its way to ensure citizens are jabbed as soon as possible, in turn, putting an end to the Coronavirus pandemic.

It’ll partner with the Ravenswood Family Health Center to turn part of its headquarters into a vaccination clinic for underserved communities. The company also said it’s partnering with California Governor Gavin Newsom and nonprofits to support pop-up clinics.

Facebook plans to arrange vaccine rides to and from Facebook’s campus. However, Facebook employees will be ineligible for the vaccination program. The new vaccination site is being made for under-served communities.

Recently, the social networking giant launched a tool that shows the nearest vaccination facilities to a user. Facebook is partnering with Boston Children’s Hospital, which runs the VaccineFinder.org website, to offer the tool that identifies places nearby to get the vaccine.

The adoption of vaccines is a point of contention for many due to a host of reasons — misinformation, lack of trust, poor supply chains, and more. Amid the pandemic, health regulators worldwide are urging citizens to get jabbed as soon as possible. Facebook has also launched a profile picture frame that says, “I got my COVID vaccine.”

“Now that many countries are moving towards vaccinations for all adults, we’re working on tools to make it easier for everyone to get vaccinated as well,” Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, said in a blog post.

As part of the efforts, the Coronavirus Information Center will expand to Instagram, and the company soon expects to roll out a WhatsApp chatbot in association with local health authorities.

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