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2014 SXSW Explores The Future of Food (HINT: Insects Play a Role!)

Just a bit of background in case you are like me and only recently learned about the glorious SXSW. SXSW—which is short for South by Southwest—is a collection of film screenings, “interactive events,” music festivals, and conferences that happens in Austin, Texas every March. (Today is opening day!) It started as more of an indie-music thing but now it’s one of the top tech meet-ups in the world. And there truly is something for everyone, including dozens of food-specific offerings like discussion panels.

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Below, a sampling of this year’s SXSW food-and-health related seminars:

March 8
“Dear Taco Vendor, How Are You Securing My Data?”
This important seminar explores the idea of exchanging personal information as currency. SXSW, like many other festivals and events, offers free swag in the form of clothing, grab-bags, and, of course, food. You’re not often charged money for these items, yet you have to “earn” these free things by logging into your various social networking accounts and promoting the company. This seminar discusses the process from logging in to ways the companies benefit from your information. The security of your personal life is important. Get to know the way of the world in 2014!
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Tinke Smart Phone Device Puts Your Health in Your Own Hands

Ever since bathroom scales became a household mainstay and we no longer require medical professionals to monitor our weight, taking ownership of our own healthcare has continued to evolve. Today we live in a world where we can research our own symptoms from various sources, do a great deal of medical testing at home with products we can buy at the drug store, and even use a mobile phone app to monitor our heart rate and oxygen levels.

A new device introduced this year for smart phones called Tinke has helped further self healthcare even more. The tiny little device plugs into your phone and becomes a monitor of heart rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygen levels, and heart rate variability. The user simply places their finger over the sensors and the technology detects changes in blood skin blood volume to get readings.

From there the data is displayed on the phone through the Tinke app, and the user can begin to track their own health.

The information can remain completely private, however, users are encouraged to join the Tinke community. Just like many wellness apps, the community of users is intended to encourage and motivate. The sharing of fitness and wellness information has been useful for many people in the social media world as they try to improve their health. Again, something we used to only do in the privacy of our own doctor’s office.
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12 Steps to Relieve Internet Addiction and Digital Depression

Are you one of the millions of Americans who depend heavily on your laptop or cell phone to get you through the day? Do you come home from work and instead of spending quality time with friends, exercising or doing chores you find yourself logging on to your Facebook or Twitter account? Do you incessantly check your email, the weather report or the news hoping something exciting will snap you out of feeling bored with your life? Do you feel lost without some sort of digital device that can dole out information in less than a few seconds when you have a burning curiosity about something?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, a digital detox plan might be the best gift you can give yourself this year.

Read these steps, tips and guidelines designed to help you dismiss digital depression. When you are finished reading, shut down your computer, turn off your Smartphone, completely unplug, and give yourself a well-deserved break.


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Jawbone UP Wristband Has Potential To Ease Healthy Changes

The first step in creating healthier habits is to know your baseline, where you are starting and what areas need the most improvement. “I need to eat healthier” is very vague and does not tell you what to do. When you do know which direction to go, it is important to know the first step and not bite off more than you can chew. Another important step to making a change in your behavior is to track your progress and recognize incremental improvements. If we do not allow ourselves to feel good about the small steps toward improvement that we make, the process can seem overwhelming, and we can be tempted to give up on our goals.

While there are many smartphone apps that can aid in tracking and even some that can make suggestions for improvements, perfect for busy days where taking the time to write down what you are doing and eating is likely to fall to the bottom of your to-do list. While you can start again the next day, many people stop using an app once they have missed a day or two. I am hopeful the new UP bracelet from Jawbone may make the entire process of creating healthier habits easier.

The Jawbone UP is a waterproof wristband, similar in size to a Livestrong band, with embedded sensors that connect to your smartphone to track behaviors such as eating, sleep, and physical activity. It is expected to be released by the end of this year. The free app will track your data and make suggestions for improvement. It sounds like suggestions will be made using the kaizen theory. It sounds really cool that you can input your daily diet by snapping photos of your food, but I wonder how much people will follow through with this. I am also interested to see just how the app works and if it includes push notifications.


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