This is a fun one --- one story with two super-cool angles to it.
First --- a few days ago we launched a great new HealthVault application. It's called "Walk Me" and the idea is simple. Just start counting your steps - a little thing that research says can add up to a lot of positive change. You can use a fancy HealthVault-connected pedometer, but it's certainly not required. I use an old one I had hanging around - passable units are available for just a few dollars.
The real hook behind Walk Me is the connections it makes with other people. You're automatically placed into groups organized by location, age and BMI, and can see how your progress stacks up (still first in my BMI group, folks!). Even better, you can create Walk Me "widgets" to place on your own blog (look over on the right side of this page), Facebook or MySpace page, even in your email signature. And of course, the steps you track with Walk Me are available in any HealthVault application - so if you want to spice things up with a virtual trip in RouteTracker - it all just works. Pretty sweet.
Here's the other thing, though, that's really an even bigger deal. Walk Me is actually the first application to be featured in the new "Sandbox for HealthVault" - an environment we've created to showcase innovative applications created by Microsoft employees. Walk Me is the result of a few guys (primarily Rocky, Vaibhav, Eric and Chris - although a bunch of others contributed as well) here on the HealthVault team who decided that the world needed a good walking app - so they built one.
It's hard for me to describe how completely over-the-top excited and proud this makes me. First, that we have folks here at HealthVault who care enough about what we're doing to sit down and build polished apps like this on their own time. Second, that a huge company like Microsoft recognizes the value of this kind of innovation, and is able to see beyond bureaucracy to create a place for it to thrive. And last, that I know things like this actually work and will have a positive health impact on real people.
I have a pretty cool job.
The folks over at the Microsoft HealthVault have been busy and have created what is called the "Sandbox