Games and Health

Happy 4th!

This weekend, as you gather with friends and family for cookouts, lawn games, World Cup games, and fireworks, join us in taking a minute to remember what the day is about. In 1776, our founding fathers gathered to declare our independence from England. Fifty years later, two of those men famously died on the same day (John Adams and Thomas Jefferson).

The 4th has seen a lot of other important historic moments: in 1802, West Point opened its doors; in 1817, construction of the Erie Canal began; in 1827, the state of New York abolished slavery; in 1839, Lou Gherig was diagnosed with ALS; in 1997, NASA’s Pathfinder landed on Mars.

This year, let’s take a moment to thank the amazing men and women who serve our country every day in the armed forces, all levels of government, and community organizations.

And, please – don’t forget the sunscreen and to be careful in the heat that will hit some of us (DC-area folks, I’m talking to you!).

NASA’s mHealth Workshop: A Photo Slide Show

For those of you unable to attend Thursday’s workshop at the Center for Total Health held by NASA on the topic of Applications Benefiting Life in Space and on Earth, we hope you were able to follow much of the Twitter conversation.  You can see what people had to say by searching Twitter via the hash tag #NASAhealth.

Here are a few photographic highlights of the day’s activities.

A Chat with Fooducate’s Hemi Weingarten at Health 2.0 Spring Fling

The Center for Total Health Blog was in Boston this week for Health 2.0’s Spring Fling event, and we sought out up-and-coming innovators in the health space to hear what they are working on and what we can expect in the near future.  Over the next week, we’ll be posting interviews from the event, and today, we kick that off with our conversation with Hemi Weingarten, CEO of Fooducate.

Back in February when the blog was reporting from HIMSS, we asked Matthew Holt—founder of The Health Care Blog’s co-founder of Health 2.0—to tell us about one of his latest favorite apps, and he gave us an informal demo of Fooducate.  Weingarten goes a bit deeper, sharing the inspiration for the application, what’s on the horizon for Fooducate (apps for folks with food allergies and diabetes), and a short demonstration of some of its features.

Fooducate is available on iOS and Android devices, and it was selected as Apple’s Best App of 2011 in the Health & Fitness category.  They have their own blog with helpful advice on navigating the world of nutrition labels and making healthy choices.  Check it out here.   You can also follow them on Twitter— @Fooducate.

Well-Being Explored at the Center for Total Health

How will a person’s sense of well-being change in the future? And how can playing a digital game help a sick or injured person heal?

Those questions will be explored this week at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health

The Institute for the Future, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based non-profit research organization, is holding its Health Horizons Research Program event at the Center for Total Health today and Wednesday. Dozens of representatives from groups that sponsor the institute’s research are expected to attend the event.

Social Chocolate, a company that develops science-based digital games, is also sharing its findings as part of the event.

The Center for Total Health’s focus on immersive total health education and its expansive view of well-being is in tune with the Institute of the Future’s research on well-being.

The Institute for the Future is looking broadly at the concept of well-being, says Rod Falcon, the group’s Health Research Program Director.

“You can see health and well-being in so many areas of our lives and it’s all interconnected,” Falcon said.

The organization’s research, over the past two years, has focused on thinking about health and well-being not just as a market trend, or just from an individual experience, but as an interconnected ecosystem. People’s bodies, networks and environments are all part of this ecosystem, according to the organization.

In order for people to understand well-being, according to the organization’s research, it is important for them to find and pursue health in everything they do – from the foods they buy, to the way they parent, and to the way they live and work in their environments.

The presentation from the institute will specifically address research on the future of well-being and four possible ways people could experience well-being in 2021, according to Falcon.

While Wednesday’s presentations on the organization’s research will be an invitation-only event, today’s talk on a health-focused digital game will be held during a public reception.

Sean Baenen, interim chief executive officer of digital game company Social Chocolate, will be the keynote speaker at the public reception.

Baenen will discuss SuperBetter, the company’s new game that seeks to turn everyday folks into superheroes for health. Baenen, a leading mind in the new media world with engagements at Health 2.0, the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the World Economic Forum, will lead a demo of the game and share early results of the first closed beta tests.

The game, developed by Social Chocolate, provides game-play to harness the science of positive emotions, social connections and behavior change for better heath.

Baenen describes SuperBetter as a “recovery adventure game” and “social platform that allows people to recruit their friends, family and physicians as allies in their quest for better health.”

SuperBetter was the brainchild of Jane McGonigal, author of the book Reality is Broken and Research Director of Game Research & Development for the Institute for the Future.

The Institute for the Future’s research and the SuperBetter game both leverage the power of creative thinking and imagination, according to the institute.

Watch a demonstration of SuperBetter here.

 –Kathleen Haley

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