The examined Life: Digital Health for All
Digital health and wellness technologies are not exclusively for the old and frail, nor are they only for those who are gravely ill and incapacitated. New mobile health, social media and activity monitoring technologies are designed so we can better care for ourselves, regardless of our current state of health. They enable us to better understand our own bodies, our activity, our sleeping patterns, and our work-out activities, as well as to educate ourselves on self-care.
Individuals adopting these technologies will be healthier, happier and more socially connected — all with the silver lining of saving money and unnecessary trips to the doctor.
I have a very close relationship with my smartphone. In fact, I would say that my smartphone is with me and possibly knows more about my activities and patterns than anything or anybody else. I know what you’re thinking — either that I need to get a life or that technology is running my life. I would like to argue, however, that I am using technology to the fullest capacity to empower myself.
My morning starts with a Bluetooth bracelet vibrating to wake me up when it detects my lightest sleep patterns within a specific window of time, followed by my phone’s alarm to ensure that I actually did wake up. Before even getting out of bed, I check my daily schedule and am reminded that today is pajama day at my son’s school. While the coffee brews, I quickly browse my email and simultaneously scan the barcode of my lunch for my food diary. While I’m working, my wrist band periodically nags me when I’ve been inactive for too long and I’m forced to quickly take a stroll around the office. When I travel, which is more often than I’d like, my phone is my connection to my husband and sons. We Skype and FaceTime every night. It’s the next best thing. My smartphone makes me smarter, move more, eat better and keeps me informed on my health decisions, good and bad. So, why shouldn’t this type of information and automated self-improvement be available to all, even the computerless?
In the age of social connectivity and self-awareness, it puzzles me to think that those without a smartphone or tablet could miss out. This is why comprehensive digital health, activity and socialization technologies like GrandCare Systems or Care Innovations are paving the way for all generations to easily utilize technology, regardless of computer knowledge. With a “design-for-all” concept, these touch-based systems are like appliances that provide many of the benefits a smartphone affords. In addition, they can connect and enable family and professional caregivers to remotely log in and add automated reminders, calendar appointments, family pictures, videos, medication prompts, greetings and more. Family members can be alerted if something seems amiss (for example, the door opens during the night, medications are not accessed, or excessive motion is detected at the foot of the stairs). All of this serves to engage, support and enable an individual to be as independent, connected and healthy as possible.
The value proposition for adult caregivers and their aging parents is an easy sell. Many of us could benefit from knowing our weight, blood pressure and pulse oxygen levels and seeing how they trend over time.
Several companies are already providing technology solutions and many more prototypes and beta pilots are popping up every day. Solutions can range from a simple crisis management PERS (personal emergency response system) to a medication dispenser to a full-blown comprehensive activity, health and socialization system.
Why wait? We don’t wait for a theft to get a lock on the front door, nor do we wait to have a car accident to buckle our seatbelts. The same should be true for how we treat our own health and the well-being of our loved ones.
The aforementioned conversation that has to occur between devices is actually called the HDMI initialization sequence (commonly called “handshake”) and the first step in this sequence is known as “Hot Plug.” Hot Plug is a +5v signal sent between the source and display, acknowledging that they are connected to each other. This is the wakeup call telling both devices to begin sharing information. If the +5v Hot Plug pulse does not occur, or attenuates to the point of being below the threshold voltage, then you basically get nothing. Game over — go directly to troubleshooting; do not pass go, do not collect picture or audio.
The second step in the initialization sequence is known as the Extended Display Identification Data (EDID) standard. It was originally developed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) to support plug-and-play functionality within the computer community. The idea is that by having a display share its formatting/processing capabilities with the source, a consumer would always experience the highest-quality video and audio within the system’s capabilities. While fantastic in theory, manufacturers have struggled somewhat with implementing EDID correctly across all products since its adoption within the consumer electronics space. Because a display’s EDID is responsible for instructing the source on how to format and send the A/V information, incorrect communication may cause all sorts of seemingly odd anomalies — stereo instead of multi-channel audio, wrong aspect ratios, incorrect colorimetry, lower-than-optimal resolutions, or even no video/audio at all. It is important to note that the complexities of EDID processing increase exponentially when using HDMI splitters or matrix switches connected to multiple displays with differing EDIDs.
The final step in the “handshake” process is copyright authentication, also known as High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP). I have often heard it affectionately referred to within the industry as “Hollywood’s Defense against Chinese Piracy.” HDCP was developed by Intel as a copy-protection scheme requiring key exchanges between authorized devices before allowing content to be viewed. While this may seem perfectly reasonable and easy to execute on the surface, there are multiple factors that contribute to authentication failures within a significant number of HDMI systems.
First, even though HDMI v1.0 was officially launched in 2003, no HDCP compliance testing specifications existed until 2006. Second, the HDMI specification allows for up to 127 different “key” values per device; yet, many manufacturers assume their source device will be connected to only one display, and therefore implement a measly one to three keys. This can be a major problem if you are sending the signal from that source to multiple destinations. Unless the splitter/matrix switch you’re using has the ability to monitor and enforce HDCP compliance internally, when more displays are connected than there are keys for the source to hand out, you will typically end up with either the “flashing screen of death” or a beautiful image of the environment described by Edgar Allen Poe in the “Pit and the Pendulum.” Lastly, it is possible for manufacturers to issue firmware updates affecting the way HDCP is handled by their devices and these updates can break a system of devices that were previously working together quite well.
While this exercise of peeling back the jacket to expose the internal workings of HDMI may not have been quite as exciting as watching an everyday object transform itself into a walking, talking, superhero robot, hopefully it has given you some ideas about how to be successful when dealing with the complexities of today’s most popular digital video transmission medium. Armed with this knowledge (which is almost as cool as being armed with a plasma cannon, right?), it is now your job to go out and provide your clients with systems of the highest quality and reliability.
To learn more, check out the CEDIA Marketplace online or use the CEDIA app on your smartphone to find our white paper series on HDMI. Be sure to keep an eye on the CEDIA calendar of events for in-person and hands-on training sessions, including the Home Theater Boot Camp and HDMI Workshop.
Contributed by the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association. To learn more about CEDIA membership visit www.cedia.org/join.