Apple is reportedly working on mental health monitoring using iPhone data

Apple is reportedly working on ways to help detect and diagnose conditions such as depression, anxiety and cognitive decline using an iPhone. Researchers hope that analysis of data such as mobility, sleep patterns and how people type could spot behaviors associated with those conditions, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Other measurements could include facial expression analysis and heart and respiration rates. All of the processing would take place on the device, with no data sent to Apple servers.

The company is working on research projects that could lead to the development of these features. The University of California, Los Angeles, is studying stress, anxiety and depression, with Apple Watch and iPhone data for 3,000 volunteers being tracked in a study that starts this year. A pilot phase that began in 2020 recorded data from 150 participants.

Researchers will compare data captured from iPhone and Watch sensors with questionnaires participants fill out about how they feel, according to the report. They're also said to be measuring the level of the stress hormone cortisol in participants' hair follicles. Apple and UCLA announced the three-year study in August 2020.

Another research project is underway that may factor into this Apple project. The company and pharmaceutical firm Biogen said in January they're working on a two-year study to monitor cognitive function and perhaps spot mild cognitive impairment, which has the potential to develop into Alzheimer’s. The plan is to track around 20,000 participants, around half of whom have high risk of cognitive impairment.

If data from the studies lines up with symptoms of depression or anxiety, Apple could use it to create a feature that warns users if it sees signs of a mental health condition. The iPhone could prompt users to seek care, which could be important as early detection can improve quality of life in the long run.

Apple and its partners are in the early stages of this work, so it'll likely be a few years at least before the company adds mental health monitoring features to the iPhone. There's no guarantee the research will lead to such features at all.

Some previous studies have indicated people with certain conditions use devices differently than other folks. It's not yet clear whether developers can build algorithms that can detect mental health conditions reliably and accurately.

Still, there's no smoke without fire. Health has been a growing focus for Apple over the past few years, so there's a chance features based on this research will eventually emerge.

Apple is reportedly working on mental health monitoring using iPhone data

Apple is reportedly working on ways to help detect and diagnose conditions such as depression, anxiety and cognitive decline using an iPhone. Researchers hope that analysis of data such as mobility, sleep patterns and how people type could spot behaviors associated with those conditions, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Other measurements could include facial expression analysis and heart and respiration rates. All of the processing would take place on the device, with no data sent to Apple servers.

The company is working on research projects that could lead to the development of these features. The University of California, Los Angeles, is studying stress, anxiety and depression, with Apple Watch and iPhone data for 3,000 volunteers being tracked in a study that starts this year. A pilot phase that began in 2020 recorded data from 150 participants.

Researchers will compare data captured from iPhone and Watch sensors with questionnaires participants fill out about how they feel, according to the report. They're also said to be measuring the level of the stress hormone cortisol in participants' hair follicles. Apple and UCLA announced the three-year study in August 2020.

Another research project is underway that may factor into this Apple project. The company and pharmaceutical firm Biogen said in January they're working on a two-year study to monitor cognitive function and perhaps spot mild cognitive impairment, which has the potential to develop into Alzheimer’s. The plan is to track around 20,000 participants, around half of whom have high risk of cognitive impairment.

If data from the studies lines up with symptoms of depression or anxiety, Apple could use it to create a feature that warns users if it sees signs of a mental health condition. The iPhone could prompt users to seek care, which could be important as early detection can improve quality of life in the long run.

Apple and its partners are in the early stages of this work, so it'll likely be a few years at least before the company adds mental health monitoring features to the iPhone. There's no guarantee the research will lead to such features at all.

Some previous studies have indicated people with certain conditions use devices differently than other folks. It's not yet clear whether developers can build algorithms that can detect mental health conditions reliably and accurately.

Still, there's no smoke without fire. Health has been a growing focus for Apple over the past few years, so there's a chance features based on this research will eventually emerge.

FTC rules that health apps must notify consumers affected by data breaches

Since 2009, companies handling health records have been required to notify consumers if their data is breeched. Now, the rule has been extended to health apps that track fitness, vital statistics, sleep and more. The FTC ruled 3-2 that companies producing such apps must inform users impacted by data breaches, lest they face a financial penalty of over $43,000 per day, The Hill has reported. 

"As many Americans turn to apps and other technologies to track diseases, diagnoses, treatment, medications, fitness, fertility, sleep, mental health, diet, and other vital areas, this Rule is more important than ever," the FTC wrote in the ruling. "Firms offering these services should take appropriate care to secure and protect consumer data."

A more fundamental problem is the commodification of sensitive health information, where companies can use this data to feed behavioral ads or power user analytics.

Recent high-profile breaches include UnderArmour's MyFitnessPal breach that affected 150 million users in 2018. A more recent data leak came about due to an exposed server that contained 61 million records related to fitness trackers and wearables that exposed Apple and Fitbit users' data online.  

The rule passed along party lines, with the majority Democratic commissioners voting 3-2 in favor. However, the Republican commissioners dissented because the FTC was already working on revamping health breach notification rules. "The right way to go about it is to conclude the ongoing rulemaking process, especially when the statutory and regulatory interpretation on which the majority rely is far from clear," said commissioner Noah Phillips. 

FTC Chair Lina Khan said the ruling is just the start of what's needed. "A more fundamental problem is the commodification of sensitive health information, where companies can use this data to feed behavioral ads or power user analytics," Khan said. "The Commission should be scrutinizing what data is being collected in the first place and whether particular types of business models create incentives that necessarily place users at risk."

Hitting the Books: How Florence Nightingale changed medicine using stats and ‘rose charts’

During Crimean War, hospitals of the day weren't so much centers of healing or recovery as they were the places where injured combatants went to die slightly more slowly. Turkey's Scutari hospital was one such notorious example. Converted by the British Empire from army barracks, Scutari lacked every imaginable amenity, from basic sanitation to sufficient ventilation, this "hospital" served as a potent incubator for myriad infectious diseases — that is until Florence Nightingale and her team of volunteer nurses arrived in 1854. 

Maladies of Empire by Jim Downs explores how many aspects of modern medicine are borne on the backs of humanity's most abhorrent impulses, though in the excerpt below, Downs illustrates how one woman's unyielding tenacity and fastidious record keeping helped launch the field of preventative medicine.

Maladies of Empire
Belknap Press

Excerpted from MALADIES OF EMPIRE: HOW COLONIALISM, SLAVERY, AND WAR TRANSFORMED MEDICINE by JIM DOWNS, published by The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Copyright © 2021 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


While in Scutari, Nightingale developed a system of record keeping that tracked a variety of factors at the Barrack Hospital and the nearby General Hospital. She took notes on everything from cleanliness to the quantity of supplies to diet to the placement of latrines and graveyards.

She also carefully examined the physical space. She took careful note of the size of the wards, the condition of the roof, and the quality, size, and placement of the windows. In her book on the health of the British army, like Thomas Trotter and others who wrote about the importance of fresh air, she pointed to the problem of improper ventilation, and she devoted an entire section to “bad ventilation.” She quoted the report of the sanitary commission, which remarked on the “defective state of the ventilation” in the Barrack Hospital. There were only “a few small openings here and there,” so that there was no way for the “hot and foul” air to escape. As an adherent of the miasma theory, she believed that diseases were spread through the air and advocated for ventilation to release the “foul air” from hospitals.

In addition to inadequate ventilation, Nightingale pointed to poor drainage and badly designed sewers and plumbing. In her testimony to the royal commission, Nightingale reported on the filthy conditions she found in the Barrack Hospital when she arrived. “The state of the privies... for several months, more than an inch deep in filth, is too horrible to describe.” She observed six dead dogs under one of the windows, and a dead horse lay in the aqueduct for weeks. The drinking water was dirty; once she saw used hospital uniforms in the water tank. Rats and insects abounded, and “the walls and ceilings were saturated with organic matter.”

In the conclusion to her report on the health of the British Army, she explained, “We have much more information on the sanitary history of the Crimean campaign than we have upon any other, but because it is a complete exam (history does not afford its equal) of an army, after failing to the lowest ebb of disease and disaster from neglects committed, rising again to the highest state of health and efficiency from remedies applied.

"It is the whole experiment on a colossal scale.” She pointed out that during the first seven months of the Crimean campaign, mortality exceeded that of the plague of 1665 as well as that of recent cholera epidemics. But during the last six months of the war, after sanitary reforms had been made, “we had... a mortality among our sick little more than that among our healthy Guards at home.”

Using mortality data that she had collected during the war, along with domestic mortality statistics, Nightingale showed that between 1839 and 1853, mortality among soldiers was much higher than among civilian men: “of 10,000 soldiers [at the age of 20], 7,077 live to the age of 39, out of whom 135 die in the next year of age; whereas out of 10,000 civilians at the age of 20, 8,253 attain the age of 39, and of those 106 die in the year of age following.” Nearly all mortality among soldiers was the result of disease; “actual losses in battle form a very small part of the calamities of a long war.” Nightingale classified the causes of death as “zymotic diseases” (which in the nineteenth century referred to infectious diseases such as fevers, measles, and cholera), “chest and tubercular diseases,” and “all other diseases (including violent deaths).” Nightingale was critical of the army’s classification system for diseases. At the bottom of a chart, she notes, “Bronchitis and influenza have no place in the Army nomenclature. The chronic catarrh of the Army Returns is believed to be really phthisis, in the great majority of cases; acute catarrh comprehends both epidemic catarrh, or influenza and bronchitis.”

Nightingale presented statistics using charts, tables, and diagrams, which were just beginning to appear in research reports, to make it easier for readers to visualize the comparison she was making. She developed a new kind of graphic, called a “rose chart,” also known as a coxcomb chart or polar area diagram, to present mortality data from the Crimean War. Each chart, which is laid out like a pie, shows data from one year, with the slices representing months. Each slice is divided into colored segments whose area is proportional to the number of deaths.

One segment is for deaths from wounds, a second for “preventable or mitigable zymotic diseases,” and a third for all other causes. A quick glance at the charts of deaths from April 1854 to March 1855 and April 1855 to March 1856 is enough to show that many more deaths were caused by disease than by combat, and that overall mortality decreased in the second year.

To further make visible the dangers of unsanitary hospitals, Nightingale gathered mortality data for matrons, nuns, and nurses working in fifteen London hospitals who died of the “zymotic diseases” of fever and cholera. She presented tables, which she notes William Farr compiled for her, showing that the mortality rate of the nursing staff was much higher than that of the female population in London; in addition, women working in hospitals were more likely to die of zymotic diseases than were other women. She used these figures to argue for the “very great importance” of hygiene in hospitals. “The loss of a well-trained nurse by preventible [sic] disease,” she wrote, “is a greater loss than is that of a good soldier from the same cause. Money cannot replace either, but a good nurse is more difficult to find than a good soldier.”

In her book Notes on Hospitals, she retold the story of the British prisoners of war who died in a crowded jail cell in India in 1756: “Shut up 150 people in a Black hole of Calcutta, and in twenty-four hours an infection is produced so intense that it will, in that time, have destroyed nearly the whole of the inmates.” Nightingale’s reference to the case is evidence for its status as the prototypical illustration of the need for ventilation. And the fact that it took place in India shows how British medical authorities used information from around the empire.

As a result of her work with large numbers of patients in the Crimean War, Nightingale framed her analysis like an epidemiologist, in terms of populations. She focused on how disease spread within a group. She devoted her energies not to changing bedpans or dressing wounds but to studying the structure of hospitals, analyzing statistics, and figuring out how to increase ventilation.

The war provided her the opportunity to compare mortality rates in varied settings: crowded hospitals, shabby tents, and wooden huts. It also underscored to her the importance of preventive measures, which constitutes one of the major tenets of modern epidemiology. By publishing her observations, her insights, and guidelines for hospitals to follow, she hoped to provide a set of rules and guidelines for physicians to follow to prevent the spread of disease. While efforts to ensure proper hygiene as a way to guard against illness can be traced to Mesopotamian civilization and Sanskrit writings from 2000 BCE, Nightingale’s warnings, in particular, and sanitary reform, more generally, sparked a critical turning point in the middle of the nineteenth century that gave rise to preventive medicine. This transformed military medicine from an enterprise that largely focused on treatment and surgery to one that began to engage epidemiological questions and issues.

Hitting the Books: How Florence Nightingale changed medicine using stats and ‘rose charts’

During Crimean War, hospitals of the day weren't so much centers of healing or recovery as they were the places where injured combatants went to die slightly more slowly. Turkey's Scutari hospital was one such notorious example. Converted by the British Empire from army barracks, Scutari lacked every imaginable amenity, from basic sanitation to sufficient ventilation, this "hospital" served as a potent incubator for myriad infectious diseases — that is until Florence Nightingale and her team of volunteer nurses arrived in 1854. 

Maladies of Empire by Jim Downs explores how many aspects of modern medicine are borne on the backs of humanity's most abhorrent impulses, though in the excerpt below, Downs illustrates how one woman's unyielding tenacity and fastidious record keeping helped launch the field of preventative medicine.

Maladies of Empire
Belknap Press

Excerpted from MALADIES OF EMPIRE: HOW COLONIALISM, SLAVERY, AND WAR TRANSFORMED MEDICINE by JIM DOWNS, published by The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Copyright © 2021 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


While in Scutari, Nightingale developed a system of record keeping that tracked a variety of factors at the Barrack Hospital and the nearby General Hospital. She took notes on everything from cleanliness to the quantity of supplies to diet to the placement of latrines and graveyards.

She also carefully examined the physical space. She took careful note of the size of the wards, the condition of the roof, and the quality, size, and placement of the windows. In her book on the health of the British army, like Thomas Trotter and others who wrote about the importance of fresh air, she pointed to the problem of improper ventilation, and she devoted an entire section to “bad ventilation.” She quoted the report of the sanitary commission, which remarked on the “defective state of the ventilation” in the Barrack Hospital. There were only “a few small openings here and there,” so that there was no way for the “hot and foul” air to escape. As an adherent of the miasma theory, she believed that diseases were spread through the air and advocated for ventilation to release the “foul air” from hospitals.

In addition to inadequate ventilation, Nightingale pointed to poor drainage and badly designed sewers and plumbing. In her testimony to the royal commission, Nightingale reported on the filthy conditions she found in the Barrack Hospital when she arrived. “The state of the privies... for several months, more than an inch deep in filth, is too horrible to describe.” She observed six dead dogs under one of the windows, and a dead horse lay in the aqueduct for weeks. The drinking water was dirty; once she saw used hospital uniforms in the water tank. Rats and insects abounded, and “the walls and ceilings were saturated with organic matter.”

In the conclusion to her report on the health of the British Army, she explained, “We have much more information on the sanitary history of the Crimean campaign than we have upon any other, but because it is a complete exam (history does not afford its equal) of an army, after failing to the lowest ebb of disease and disaster from neglects committed, rising again to the highest state of health and efficiency from remedies applied.

"It is the whole experiment on a colossal scale.” She pointed out that during the first seven months of the Crimean campaign, mortality exceeded that of the plague of 1665 as well as that of recent cholera epidemics. But during the last six months of the war, after sanitary reforms had been made, “we had... a mortality among our sick little more than that among our healthy Guards at home.”

Using mortality data that she had collected during the war, along with domestic mortality statistics, Nightingale showed that between 1839 and 1853, mortality among soldiers was much higher than among civilian men: “of 10,000 soldiers [at the age of 20], 7,077 live to the age of 39, out of whom 135 die in the next year of age; whereas out of 10,000 civilians at the age of 20, 8,253 attain the age of 39, and of those 106 die in the year of age following.” Nearly all mortality among soldiers was the result of disease; “actual losses in battle form a very small part of the calamities of a long war.” Nightingale classified the causes of death as “zymotic diseases” (which in the nineteenth century referred to infectious diseases such as fevers, measles, and cholera), “chest and tubercular diseases,” and “all other diseases (including violent deaths).” Nightingale was critical of the army’s classification system for diseases. At the bottom of a chart, she notes, “Bronchitis and influenza have no place in the Army nomenclature. The chronic catarrh of the Army Returns is believed to be really phthisis, in the great majority of cases; acute catarrh comprehends both epidemic catarrh, or influenza and bronchitis.”

Nightingale presented statistics using charts, tables, and diagrams, which were just beginning to appear in research reports, to make it easier for readers to visualize the comparison she was making. She developed a new kind of graphic, called a “rose chart,” also known as a coxcomb chart or polar area diagram, to present mortality data from the Crimean War. Each chart, which is laid out like a pie, shows data from one year, with the slices representing months. Each slice is divided into colored segments whose area is proportional to the number of deaths.

One segment is for deaths from wounds, a second for “preventable or mitigable zymotic diseases,” and a third for all other causes. A quick glance at the charts of deaths from April 1854 to March 1855 and April 1855 to March 1856 is enough to show that many more deaths were caused by disease than by combat, and that overall mortality decreased in the second year.

To further make visible the dangers of unsanitary hospitals, Nightingale gathered mortality data for matrons, nuns, and nurses working in fifteen London hospitals who died of the “zymotic diseases” of fever and cholera. She presented tables, which she notes William Farr compiled for her, showing that the mortality rate of the nursing staff was much higher than that of the female population in London; in addition, women working in hospitals were more likely to die of zymotic diseases than were other women. She used these figures to argue for the “very great importance” of hygiene in hospitals. “The loss of a well-trained nurse by preventible [sic] disease,” she wrote, “is a greater loss than is that of a good soldier from the same cause. Money cannot replace either, but a good nurse is more difficult to find than a good soldier.”

In her book Notes on Hospitals, she retold the story of the British prisoners of war who died in a crowded jail cell in India in 1756: “Shut up 150 people in a Black hole of Calcutta, and in twenty-four hours an infection is produced so intense that it will, in that time, have destroyed nearly the whole of the inmates.” Nightingale’s reference to the case is evidence for its status as the prototypical illustration of the need for ventilation. And the fact that it took place in India shows how British medical authorities used information from around the empire.

As a result of her work with large numbers of patients in the Crimean War, Nightingale framed her analysis like an epidemiologist, in terms of populations. She focused on how disease spread within a group. She devoted her energies not to changing bedpans or dressing wounds but to studying the structure of hospitals, analyzing statistics, and figuring out how to increase ventilation.

The war provided her the opportunity to compare mortality rates in varied settings: crowded hospitals, shabby tents, and wooden huts. It also underscored to her the importance of preventive measures, which constitutes one of the major tenets of modern epidemiology. By publishing her observations, her insights, and guidelines for hospitals to follow, she hoped to provide a set of rules and guidelines for physicians to follow to prevent the spread of disease. While efforts to ensure proper hygiene as a way to guard against illness can be traced to Mesopotamian civilization and Sanskrit writings from 2000 BCE, Nightingale’s warnings, in particular, and sanitary reform, more generally, sparked a critical turning point in the middle of the nineteenth century that gave rise to preventive medicine. This transformed military medicine from an enterprise that largely focused on treatment and surgery to one that began to engage epidemiological questions and issues.

This interactive yoga mat turns stretching into a game, gives users daily motivation to exercise

Unlike the ordinary stretching mats, Solelp features a smart mat, camera-laden bar, interactive handles and a mobile app that gives users a connected environment to perform and enjoy stretching for a better body posture.

Living in the pandemic, we have all understood the importance of staying fit and healthy. Staying healthy is not just about building muscles, eating a healthy diet, or achieving aerobic fitness. You must think about your body posture and flexibility (which is taking a backseat as we continue to work from home). This is where stretching comes in!

Solelp, a yoga mat-like device is designed primarily to make stretching exercises a game you’d want to play over and over again. By combining stretching with engaging gameplay – the user is pushed through missions, goals, and points, to keep one focused on a sense of achievement. This helps anyone enjoy stretching as an exciting everyday activity.

Designed for the home gyms, this stretching device – that folds away when not in use – unlike the ordinary stretching mats, Solelp comes with a smart mat, camera-laden bar, interactive handles, and a mobile app giving the user a connected environment to perform and enjoy stretching for a better body posture and health. The bar on the head of the mat integrates a LiDAR camera sensor to accurately scan the user’s body posture and provide real-time feedback.

To augment the concept of interactive stretching, the mat is enabled with an LED screen that guides the user with the placement of hands and feet using touchpoints. Further, a pair of handles provided with the kit offers a nice, smooth grip and emits colors as the user interacts with it. These handles with resistance bands can be used for stretching and receive instant posture feedback. Interestingly the onboard controls on the handles can be used to interact with the camera bar and the two speakers at either end that can be used to play music as you play the game of stretching.

This exciting stretching device is connected to your smartphone via an app, wherein you get all the routines, rewards, and missions to complete. These are designed to keep you motivated in your stretching routine. The Solelp has an interesting overall design and build that continues to convey a fun and energetic mood, keeping you healthier and with a body posture to flaunt!

Stretching in addition to helping improve body posture can enhance its performance and physical activity. It can decrease the person’s risk of injuries and enable the muscles to work most effectively. Stretching is a solution to painful backs and regular routine is essential for good posture. Many of us however find it difficult to remain motivated to exercise, an interactive device as the Solelp can make stretching exercises easy and interesting for the good of our bodies.

Designer: Minj Co.

Fitbit’s Charge 5 packs an ECG and stress response sensor

The trickle-down of features from Fitbit’s higher-end wearables to its everyday fitness trackers continues with the Charge 5. This new edition of the device is packing both ECG and EDA sensors, both of which were first found in the higher-end Sense, to better help you monitor your heart health and stress. Charge 5 also gets a few quality-of-life improvements compared to its predecessor, including a new body that’s 10 percent thinner and a new color AMOLED display with an always-on option.

But the real point of this new tech is to integrate the Fitbit into your daily health routines as something more than just a tracker. The ECG sensor will, naturally, help you check your heart’s electrical activity and check for signs of atrial fibrillation. The EDA, or Electrodermal Activity sensor (itself a fancier term for Galvanic Skin Response) is designed to measure the perspiration of your hands, which can be a marker for stress. As with the Sense, users can then be coached through a stress-reduction session if their stats get too aggressive.

Fitbit is also looking to bolster its $10-per-month Premium offering to encourage more of its hardware users to sign up to a monthly subscription. That includes a new Daily Readiness Score, which sounds a lot like Garmin’s Body Battery calculation, which will examine how ready you are to work out. It’ll do that by looking at your heart rate variability, recent sleep schedule and activity to judge if you should hit the treadmill or the couch that day.

Premium will also get a new collection of workouts from Les Mills to help coach you through the workout du jour. In addition, Fitbit is partnering with Calm, and Premium users will get access to “30 pieces of Calm content in seven languages,” with users able to run an EDA scan at the same time as listening to a Calm-created mindfulness session. Or they will be, since the material is expected to arrive at some point in September.

The Fitbit Charge 5 is available to pre-order today, and will cost $179.95 complete with six months of Fitbit Premium thrown in.

This ingestible robot delivers insulin to your body without external needles

Researchers from Italy have created a robot that could one day allow diabetes patients to get a dose of insulin without any needles. PILLSID involves two separate parts. One component is an internal insulin dispenser that a doctor would surgically implant in your abdomen. The other is a magnetic capsule loaded with the hormone.

Anytime you need to refill the dispenser, you take one of the pills, and it travels down your digestive system until it reaches the point where the device is implanted near your small intestine. Using the power of magnets, the device rotates the capsule into position and then punctures it with a retractable needle and pumps the refill of insulin into a reservoir. The cool thing here is that the dispenser charges wirelessly, limiting the number of interventions a doctor needs to maintain the device. Once the capsule is empty, it continues its trip down your digestive system until you eventually poop it out. Good times.

On the surface, the system may sound scary, but in a lot of ways, it’s preferable to many of the current tools you can use as a type 1 diabetes patient to regulate your blood sugar levels. Insulin pumps, for instance, involve a tube or needle that you need to self-administer. One jab might not be so bad, but some people need to get multiple injections per day. "Maybe it's scary to think about a docking station inside the body, but it worked," Arianna Menciassi, one of the co-authors of the study, told IEEE Spectrum. Unintuitively, this is a much less intrusive system, and it has the potential to be useful for administering other life-saving drugs.

In a test involving three diabetic pigs, the research team found the system could successfully manage their insulin levels for several hours. In some instances, they found bodily fluids from the pigs would leak into the robot. So as a next step, the team is working on sealing the device better.

While it will likely be some time before PILLSID makes its way to hospitals, devices that attend to your medical needs from inside your body are likely to become more and more common. In 2016, for instance, MIT showed off an origami robot that can pick up objects from inside your intestine.

This ingestible robot delivers insulin to your body without external needles

Researchers from Italy have created a robot that could one day allow diabetes patients to get a dose of insulin without any needles. PILLSID involves two separate parts. One component is an internal insulin dispenser that a doctor would surgically implant in your abdomen. The other is a magnetic capsule loaded with the hormone.

Anytime you need to refill the dispenser, you take one of the pills, and it travels down your digestive system until it reaches the point where the device is implanted near your small intestine. Using the power of magnets, the device rotates the capsule into position and then punctures it with a retractable needle and pumps the refill of insulin into a reservoir. The cool thing here is that the dispenser charges wirelessly, limiting the number of interventions a doctor needs to maintain the device. Once the capsule is empty, it continues its trip down your digestive system until you eventually poop it out. Good times.

On the surface, the system may sound scary, but in a lot of ways, it’s preferable to many of the current tools you can use as a type 1 diabetes patient to regulate your blood sugar levels. Insulin pumps, for instance, involve a tube or needle that you need to self-administer. One jab might not be so bad, but some people need to get multiple injections per day. "Maybe it's scary to think about a docking station inside the body, but it worked," Arianna Menciassi, one of the co-authors of the study, told IEEE Spectrum. Unintuitively, this is a much less intrusive system, and it has the potential to be useful for administering other life-saving drugs.

In a test involving three diabetic pigs, the research team found the system could successfully manage their insulin levels for several hours. In some instances, they found bodily fluids from the pigs would leak into the robot. So as a next step, the team is working on sealing the device better.

While it will likely be some time before PILLSID makes its way to hospitals, devices that attend to your medical needs from inside your body are likely to become more and more common. In 2016, for instance, MIT showed off an origami robot that can pick up objects from inside your intestine.

Jabra’s latest earbuds are for people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss

A number of companies make "hearing enhancement" devices that look more like a set of earbuds than a piece of clinical tech. Nuheara has been a staple at CES with its IQbuds line and companies like Bose, Bragi, Olive and others have offered a mix of tech and hardware to assist with hearing loss. Even Apple plans to introduce a "Converstaion Boost" for its AirPods Pro. Since the FDA allows companies to sell directly to consumers with mild-to-moderate hearing loss without the need for a prescription, the list of options is constantly growing. Another company that's specifically equipped to blur the line between hearing aid and true wireless earbuds is Jabra, thanks to the auditory assistance expertise of its parent company GN. 

With the Jabra Enhance Plus, the company offers a more approachable device for people who may not need what all-day hearing aids offer just yet. Jabra describes these earbuds as "a miniaturized true wireless form factor" that's 50 percent smaller than its stellar Elite 75t model. Those are already some of the smallest buds I've tested, so reducing the size even further makes the Enhance Plus more comfortable and more discreet. Plus, a design that resembles earbuds rather than a traditional hearing aid helps reduce the stigma around wearing something that helps your hear better. 

Inside, four separate sound processing features work to improve audio quality. The Enhance Plus analyzes sound to keep things as natural as possible while also reducing noise for speech clarity. The earbuds also ensure feedback doesn't hinder amplification and they isolate sounds coming from in front of you. 

Jabra Enhance Plus
Jabra

In addition to providing hearing enhancement, the Jabra Enhance Plus can work just like a set of true wireless earbuds to play music and take calls. Similar to other earbuds, the Enhance Plus comes with multiple sizes of ear tips to help you find the best fit, on-board controls and water/dust resistance (IP52). Jabra says they'll last 10 hours on a charge with 30 hours total when you factor in the charging case. An app assists with setup and offers a degree of customization. 

Jabra plans to launch the Enhance Plus at "select hearing care clinics" in the US "towards the end of the year." A licensed professional will conduct a hearing test to make sure these earbuds are appropriate. There's no word on pricing just yet, but the company says it's applying for approval under the FDA's self-fitting category. If you're looking for more of a true hearing aid rather than these "enhancers," Jabra also offers the Enhance Pro. It carries the more traditional behind-the-ear hearing aid design along with a charging case. It's also pricey, starting at $1,800. 

If that's what you're after, the Bose SoundControl hearing aids went on sale in May, and as of last week, are available in all 50 states. That device puts the company's audio expertise to use to help you hear better, and Bose said it was the first FDA-cleared hearing aids that could be sold directly to consumers. What's more, they're more affordable at $850, but they run on the typical zinc-air batteries for hearing aids rather than being rechargeable. 

Update 1:13PM ET: Bose SoundControl hearing aids are now available in all 50 states after a limited rollout at launch. This post has been updated to clarify that availability.