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Using Regenerative Medicine to Preview Biological Responses

At IFTF, we're always looking for new tools to better understand future possibilities--and our 2010 Science, Technology and Well-Being map highlighted a new tool for personal health foresight: Stem cell research. The basic idea is this: the tools of regenerative medicine, which now enable scientists to, for example, engineer skin cells into other kinds of cells, such as heart cells, will enable scientists to test out effects of different kinds of treatments inside of petri dishes, rather than inside our bodies.

From Personalized to Empathetic Technologies

There's a lot to like about Eli Pariser's recent TED talk about the ways in which algorithms designed to personalize our experiences of digital information, in effect, put us into information bubbles. In effect, he argues that as sites like Google and Facebook customize and increasingly large percentage of the content we see, we'll naturally, and without our knowledge, be exposed to a progressively narrower range of new ideas and information.

Previewing Your Future Self

A few months ago, I highlighted a treadmill at Japanese gyms that flashes pictures of desserts at exercisers as they hit certain calorie counts in order to keep them motivated. Want that milkshake? Just run another half hour.

A Different Kind of Health Preview

At the Institute, we've spent a fair amount of time thinking about how visualization tools can help encourage people to improve their health by helping people see the visceral effects of eating, exercise and other behaviors. Now from Japan comes word of a different kind of health preview to motivate people to exercise: Encourage people to exercise by embedding images of desserts and other tempting foods into the console of a treadmill.

Healthy Avatars, Healthy Living

A preliminary study from RTI has found that Virtual World users with thin, active avatars are significantly more likely to be active and healthy in the physical world. Specifically, while 80 percent of Second Life users whose avatars participate in vigorous exercise also say they exercise in the physical world at least once a week, only 57 percent of users whose avatars do not exercise in the virtual world report exercising in the physical world.

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