Category Archives: Consumer Choices in Food, Health, and Wellness

Stop Looking for the Fountain of Youth: Invest Instead in Healthy Aging in Place

In recent years, the eternal topic of aging and the concern that people have around this natural process has gained increased attention from the media, entrepreneurs, and scientists. This topic was even included in the HBO TV series “Silicon Valley,” where one of the characters undergoes a blood transfusion from a younger individual to replace their “old” blood with new blood full of youthful energy. While, this might only seem like a work of fiction, a startup called Ambrosia is actually offering these “young blood” transfusions at $8,000 each. In fact, during the past five years, a number of companies and projects have emerged intending to battle the process of aging. For instance, an Alphabet subsidiary, called Calico, intends to use biotechnology to understand aging-related health conditions and develop “interventions that enable people to lead longer and healthier lives.” Continue reading

A Taxonomy for Innovation in Sleep

Last month, Fitbit unveiled its new smart watch, the Fitbit Iconic. The company plans to utilize the device’s new blood oxygen saturation sensors (relative SpO2) for sleep apnea diagnosis. For Fitbit, the new functionality in the Iconic is a natural progression from its previous work; but from a broader perspective, Fitbit’s recent innovation represents yet another data point of a bigger story: sleep is hot. Today, sleep has already become widely accepted as a primary pillar of wellness (even the Apple Health Kit will vouch for this), and sleep tracking has become ubiquitous in consumer wellness solutions; yet recently we’ve witnessed an uptick in innovation of sleep-specific solutions. Below, we use Lux’s Tech Signal to uncover spikes in interest in sleep innovation, which primarily took off in 2013:

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Release of EU Sugar Quota: A Sweet Opportunity for First-Generation Sugar Users

On September 30, 2017, the European Union’s sugar quota system will be abolished to allow greater market orientation among European sugar producers. The sugar quota system was established in 1968 to set a price floor, production limits, and import limits to insulate European sugar producers and end-users from price volatility on the global sugar market. With the abolishment next month, sugar producers will be able to ramp up production and exports, resulting in a variety of implications for downstream industries. Continue reading

Closing the Loop on Diabetes Care: Focusing on the Value-To-Price Ratio for Success

Diabetes has long been an epidemic, but with increasing prevalence and rising cost, solving for the condition is now more pressing than ever. Patient empowerment and self-care have been deemed the keys to effective diabetes management, however gaps in education and ability exist. Developers—big and small—are buying into the self-care idea and are using digital to deliver on this vision. There are four primary pillars to diabetes management: blood glucose monitoring, diet, physical activity, and insulin delivery. Most hype has been dedicated to the revolutionary “artificial pancreas,” or closed-loop insulin delivery system, which automates insulin therapy. Yet, in most other aspects of diabetes management (e.g. physical activity and nutrition, which also apply to diabetics not dependent on insulin therapy), the patient cannot be fully taken out of the equation. Still, innovation is reshaping all four primary aspects of diabetes management, and while solutions other than the “artificial pancreas” still require human intervention, they do address some aspects of the feedback loop, ultimately equipping the patient with the education and means to self-manage their own condition. Our analysis reveals that select solutions – for example, genetics and microbiome-based food recommendation engines – hold an especially big promise, as they address multiple aspects of the feedback loop and come at a reasonable price. Readers should look to invest in high-value solutions that come at a reasonable price while approaching solutions that provide a fairly small value-to-price ratio with caution. In cases where a solution is lacking, readers should look to marry two or more existing solutions deemed complementary by the “flow of data in diabetes feedback loops” framework, which we establish by building on Lux’s IoT system data flow framework.

By: Noa Ghersin

What GMO Crops Can Learn From Papaya

What do bananas, citrus, coffee, and cocoa have in common? A few things actually, all of these crops are huge contributors to the global agriculture, food, and beverage industries, they are primarily grown in developing countries, each crop faces impending threats of disease and environmental stress, and all of these crops could learn a few things from the papaya.

Farmers have always selectively bred their crops for the most desirable and hearty traits.  This process used to take years even decades to yield genetically superior fruits and vegetables, but now just when the technology and the need have reached a tipping point – the tide of public opinion has squelched the ability of farmers and geneticists to save their crops.

What can other crops learn from Papaya? Continue reading

The Value of Biometrics in the Health Space

Biometrics are gaining in popularity, from the standardization of fingerprint sensors in smartphones, to use of facial recognition in airports. While the hype today is in those two markets, there is still a lot of interest and activity in other spaces including the health sector. In the health sector, biometrics add new valuable use cases including improving identification of the patient, which leads to better access control, better clinical trial studies, and improved medication adherence. Below we go into depth of these three use cases to show the value of biometrics in the health space. Continue reading

Governments Take a Stance on Telehealth

Telehealth regulation has become a trending topic since U.S. legislators introduced the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2017, but internationally, governments are taking mixed positions on regulation. Telehealth has grown in the past decade into a global industry that extends care across borders, and is driving innovation in areas like triage and disease management. Yet despite its proliferation, national policy remains disjointed and poses a major hurdle across the industry. Continue reading

Lux Highlights the Key Themes From BIO World Congress 2017

Lux recently presented at the BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology. Although the event’s topics ranged from renewable chemicals and materials to biofuels to synthetic biology, three key themes emerged: Continue reading

Blockchain in Health: A Survey of Emerging Use Cases

Earlier this week, healthcare IT firm Change Healthcare became the newest member of the Hashed Health Blockchain Consortium, a distributed ledger consortium whose goal is to advance the use of blockchain protocols in healthcare. The expansion of this group and the quest for the establishment of standards for implementation of blockchain in healthcare are not surprising – the last year has witnessed a  sharp uptick in developers looking to bring blockchain to the industry. However, while the number of companies starting to apply blockchain – a distributed ledger technology that claims to offer several benefits over traditional databases, such as improved trustworthiness and automated smart contracts – to healthcare is growing, and while there certainly is a lot of hype surrounding this activity, there still remains confusion on the specific challenges these companies are looking to tackle and on the value they promise to deliver. In the table below, we synthesize currently sought-after use cases for blockchain in health, outline tech developers’ claims, and highlight players in each solution category.

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Replacing Sugar: More Than Just Sweet

Reducing and substituting for sucrose has been the heartache of food and beverage companies for the past few decades. There are many products trying to do what sugar does, but landing slightly left of ideal, at best. Sugar possesses unique properties in combination that are difficult to replicate with just one product. We have grouped sugar substitutes into categories of origin. Each replacement category includes a variety of options for sweeteners and comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Continue reading