I’ve just returned from a fantastic weekend of walking in the Yorkshire Dales at the annual Boots and Beer Festival. This is the third year we have attended and the event keeps getting better with over 540 walkers (and presumably drinkers) participating and enjoying great walks and stunning scenery. We opted for the long walk on Saturday and the medium walk on Sunday clocking up 26 miles in two days.
So why am I writing an article here? Well this year I armed myself with a new device – an Omron Pedometer. The great thing about this device (apart from being very light and very easy to use) is that its USB enabled. This allows me to connect the pedometer to my pc when I get back from my weekend of exercise. Many people will be familiar with the Device Center in Windows Vista – this lets me connect my phone, mp3 player etc and synchronise the data between them.
I’ve recently installed the HealthVault Connection Center which lets me do the same for any personal medical devices I may have – such as the pedometer, heart monitor, blood pressure monitor etc. Once the device is connected to my PC I can then upload my exercise data to my own personal HealthVault.
HealthVault is a personal health platform that lets you gather, edit, augment, store, and share health information in a secure web site. HealthVault allows me to organise my Health Information, manage any health conditions I may have, get healthy and fit (and stay that way) and make the most of visits to the Doctor. In future HealthVault will help me connect with Doctors and Hospitals directly.
As soon as I connect the pedometer to my pc the HealthVault Connection Center synchronises the data to my PC:
I can then automatically upload the exercise data directly to HealthVault
Should I wish to go and look at my HealthVault details I simply go to the web and securely logon to my HealthVault. As you can see I personally use my Microsoft Live Id to do this (you use this every time you logon to the NHS Resource Centre). There are other options available in HealthVault as well.
Once I have logged on I can control my Health information directly, add or change information and choose to securely share my information with family members or healthcare professionals:
I can also go and look at the specific details uploaded from the pedometer:
As well as being able to connect devices to HealthVault it’s also possible to connect applications – one of the first I have used is MSN Health and Fitness. Whilst being quite US centric today it does allow you to use virtual earth in a very innovative way. Once I had enabled MSN Health and Fitness to pass information to my HealthVault account I can use it to create new cycle or walking routes.
Using virtual earth I can plot my exercise route right there on the map (I can even add my own photos, 3d models and create and download a 3d tour/video if I wish). The great thing about this is that I can then store this route in my HealthVault and then link my exercise data directly to the route.
I’ve created a quick representation of the walk we did in the Dales on Sunday –this was a medium walk of 10.5 miles starting and ending in Hawes.
Whilst this map is useful it does not tell the whole story. So I switched to the 3d view in virtual earth. You now start to see the climb up to Hearne Top (number 2 on the map) is actually 500m above sea level, an believe me it was quite a climb after my ‘healthy’ breakfast at the B&B.
Hopefully you can start to see how these technologies can help us in terms of health and fitness. They are also becoming incredibly important in the treatment of long term conditions. Take a young male in his teens with diabetes – sometimes the only interaction with a healthcare professional is an appointment at the GP or if the patient has some sort of episode and ends up in A&E. Technologies such as HealthVault enable these appointments to much more informed with the patient being able to share information directly with the GP.
...and finally – always remember to drink (and to exercise) responsibly!