How Teeth Can Improve Your Hearing (and Other Mobile Medical Miracles)

CJ Castillo

By now, we should all be aware of the impact wearable technology has had on physical fitness.

a tooth embedded with a mobile medical deviceActivity trackers like the Nike FuelBand, FitBit Flex and Jawbone Up have revolutionized the way we workout, but wearables can do a lot more than make sure we’re burning enough calories. They can improve our hearing, restore our vision and keep our hearts ticking longer than ever before. And the best part is, these innovations are just beginning.

The Sonitus SoundBite

There used to be two options for people with hearing problems, invasive and expensive surgery or unwieldy hearing aids. Now, thanks to technological medical advances, the hearing-impaired have better ways to cope. One product in particular, the Sonitus SoundBite Hearing System, is set to have a huge impact on our eardrums.

sonitus soundbite

The SoundBite uses bone conduction and wireless sound processing technology to help people with conductive hearing loss regain the ability to hear by transmitting audio waves through their mouth. That’s right, an unobtrusive microphone sits in the patient’s deaf ear, while a custom-made transmitter sends signals from the patient’s molars.

The mouthpiece enables wearers to hear by creating vibrations that are felt in the cochleae of both ears, bypassing the outer and middle ear altogether. While bone conduction isn’t a new method for treating the hearing impaired, the SoundBite is the first option that doesn’t involve surgery, making it a less costly and safer alternative.

Argus II Retinal Prosthesis

Moving from the ears to the eyes, the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis gives limited sight to the visually impaired. Although the Argus II doesn’t address all causes of blindness or restore full sight toArgus II Retinal Prosthesis patients, the device can slow down the effects of degenerative eye diseases.

The Argus II works through a pair of glasses with a built-in camera that transmits external data to a device implanted in user’s optic nerve. Again, the Argus II doesn’t give the wearer 20/20 vision, but it does give them the ability to see shapes and detect their surroundings far better than a walking stick.

Proteus Digital Health

As far as internal medicine is concerned,Proteus Digital Health received FDA approval last year for its digital pill, which helps track how patients respond to medication. The system consists of an ingestible sensor, a patch worn on the body and an app installed on a smartphone or tablet.

Proteus Digital Health

According to an article in GigaOm, when the patient swallows the sensor along with medication, the magnesium and copper in the sensor react with the acid in the patient’s stomach to create a small electrical charge, allowing the sensor to communicate with the patch and app. The patient can track and log his medication and share the information with healthcare providers.

BodyGuardian Remote Monitoring System

BodyGuardian Remote Monitoring System

The BodyGuardian Remote Monitoring System (RMS) from Preventice is a wearable body sensor that allows physicians to remotely monitor a patient’s physiological data. A small sensor is attached to the patient’s chest to track heart rate, respiration rate and activity level, giving physicians and healthcare providers access to patient information with just a few clicks.

With many of these devices only in their first iteration, it’s exciting to think about what the future has in store. The SoundBite may shrink down to the size of a pesky broccoli floret stuck in your teeth. The Argus II could be the world’s most advanced contact lens. Protus pills could aid in cancer detection. And the BodyGuardian could keep track of your vital signs while adhering to the skin like a temporary tattoo. Who knows? The only thing we can say for sure is that mobile health is proving to be a real lifesaver.



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The 2 Rules of Sponsored Content

Michael Brenner

stay out of trouble by following the rules of sponsored contentThere’s a lot of debate these days around sponsored content and the more recent term of “native advertising.”

Many like to point out that sponsored content is nothing new. Advertorials have been around for a long time. But they seem to be taking on more importance as brands “become publishers,” while digital media and  social platforms are seeking new ways of generating revenue.

So ahead of the panel discussion, here are my views on the top questions related to sponsored content:

What is sponsored content?

Sponsored content is content written or under-written by the sponsor that runs on a publisher’s domain. Sponsored content should add some value to the reader. It should line up to the expectations of the audience and be relevant to the main categories of content on the publisher site. Sponsored content should be clearly labeled as content coming from the sponsor and not the publisher’s editorial team.

Is sponsored content different from native advertising?

I see them as different things. Native advertising is not always content marketing. For example, a native advertisement embedded into my Facebook news feed is still an ad. A promoted tweet can be “just” an ad although I am sure each of these examples would show higher click through if the content was more like content marketing (something useful, entertaining or non-promotional.)

Why are these important for brands? For publishers? For readers?

I believe sponsored content is a great way for brands to partner with publishers to create content that is helpful to the readers. It forces brands to put the needs of the audience first. It allows publishers to think about new ways of creating a revenue stream to underwrite their own editorial without having to insert interrupting ads that no one wants and fewer and fewer readers are interacting with. To me, if sponsored content is done right, everybody wins. Although I’m not so sure if advertising agencies sees this as a good thing.

The 2 rules of sponsored content

  1. Create great content: Brands need to think and act like the editorial group inside publishers by producing engaging, interesting and quality content that helps the audience and leaves your own desire for self-promotion behind. When brands create great content that the audience wants, on any distribution platform, the brand will see an increase in reach, engagement and potentially conversion from the trust it builds. Remember, marketing is getting new customers to know, like and trust you enough to choose you over the competition. Great content is one of the best ways to do this. And sponsored content is one of the best ways to reach out to new audiences.
  2. Always provide full disclosure: Sponsored content must fully disclose that the content is not editorial and is being paid for by the advertiser. While the standards and rules of exactly how to do this are still being debated, every attempt should be made to fully disclose the publisher / brand relationship.

Is sponsored content an attack on journalistic integrity?

Finally, a few words to the voices out there decrying sponsored content as the death knell for journalistic integrity. Publishers have always accepted money from advertisers. And while the editorial and sales desks were kept separate to minimize even the perception of impropriety, journalist salaries have always been supported at least in part by ads.

Now that the world increasingly expects content to be free, and advertising click-through rates have fallen to point-zero-something percent, publishers need to find new ways to generate revenue in a way that doesn’t interrupt their readers. This will allow those same publishers to pay their staff writers.

When this is done with integrity (full disclosure) and good intention (great content), I believe journalistic integrity will be preserved.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on TwitterLinkedInFacebook  and Google+ or  Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.



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Boss: The Worst Four-Letter Word in Business

Ted Coine

hangman on a blackboardRemember George Carlin’s 7 Dirty Words comedy skit? It’s brilliant. Irreverent. It’s funny because it’s true. But it’s incomplete.

At least in a business context, there is one word that’s worse than all the rest – yes, even worse than the one you’re thinking of right now.

The first time I was CEO, I made an enormous list of mistakes, but at the time it looked like everything I touched turned to gold – so I made a big mistake when I let a friend call me Midas without calling him on it. “Boy, this guy’s so successful, and he’s calling me that? I must really be good.”

The truth is, I was more like a gambler on a roll: I was Midas until the day I wasn’t. Ouch. Looking back, I wish I’d read Tim Harford’s Adapt before I’d founded that company. Oh, well.

Midas is a bad word in business, but it isn’t the worst.

Around this same time, I also made the mistake of allowing our girls’ niñera (babysitter) to call me “Mr. Coiné.” As with Midas, my ego did not need anyone calling me “mister.” Neither does yours.

But Mister isn’t the worst thing someone can call you, either. You know what is the single worst four-letter word in business? Boss.

Oh, boy. I’ve learned from personal experience to hate that one. Here’s why:

What the speaker means: “All I have to do is obey my boss’s marching orders, keep her happy, and I can keep my job. Someday I’ll even get promoted for my loyalty. Critical thinking? That’s above my pay grade. It’s my boss’s job.”

Is this who you want to lead? A follower?? Me, too – when I was a less confident kid. These days, I refuse to lead anyone other than other leaders. Meanwhile…

What the listener hears: “You’re important. You’re wise. You have all the answers.”

I’ve met plenty of egomaniacs who think they have all the answers. Time typically proves them wrong. I’ve never met anyone who’s had more than a few of the answers herself. That’s why we need other leaders to help us. Build a well-rounded team, hopefully one with plenty of misfits, and typically someone in there will have the answer you need to any given problem – or they’ll know where to find it.

Please, do your whole company a favor, and ban the four-letter word “boss” from your workplace entirely. It’s a bad message sent, and a cancerous message received.

Image Credit: mybaitshop / 123RF Stock Photo


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5 Ways Leaders Win at Gamification Technology

Meghan M. Biro

Summer is over, and while I’m always sorry to see it go, fall in New England is an exciting time. hello games logo represents gamification in the workplaceEveryone hunkers back down to work and there’s a sense of renewal and possibility. Right now, I’m particularly excited about gamification, which lends leaders and HR pros some incredible tools to make work more productive and fun.

Gamification uses online gaming and smart design to engage employees, boost performance, and give a jolt of adrenaline to everyone’s work lives. At its best, gamification is a blast! And many people believe it works. Which is why 70 percent of Forbes Global 2000 companies have announced plans to deploy it in some form or other.

The field is growing by leaps and clicks. To get a sense of what all the buzz is about, I suggest checking out the sites of the some of these interesting and innovative players, including Bunchball, Badgeville, KnackGamify and BigDoor. These brands are definitely onto something and getting to know them is a real education. Please note: there are so many players in this game that I have yet to even unfold yet. This is by no means a complete list.

Like all great HR technology and leadership tools, gamification is only as good as the people who use it. Just throwing up a few games and hoping for the best is a prescription for poor execution and business results.

Let’s look at 5 ways leaders can get maximum value from gamification

 1) Customize. Every organization is unique and for your gamification to succeed, it must genuinely reflect your workplace culture, mission, practices, and needs. You want seamless integration and alignment so that when people play, their loyalty and performance is growing in a way that helps you move towards your shared leadership goals. This means your gamification must link with your existing workplace culture and IT infrastructure, otherwise there will be a wall between the games and your real world of work and employees. Accomplishing this requires sophisticated software, designed with a lot of input from Leadership and HR.

2) Reward and recognize. When people do well with gamification, they must be well and aptly rewarded and recognized. And points, badges and gift cards to Applebee’s without any reason WHY don’t cut it. The rewards must represent something meaningful and lead to career advancement, money, and/or real recognition from colleagues and leaders. Remember: gamification isn’t a game, it’s a serious leadership tool and must be treated as such.

3) Keep your branding fresh. Am I the only one who thinks the whole world has ADD these days? Things change so quickly, and we’re bombarded with so much stimuli, that keeping people engaged requires continuous upgrades and enhancements of your gamification program. Once it gets stale, people will turn off and gamification will just become one more chore. So plan ahead, make sure you’ve got at least six months of new twists turns ready to roll about before you debut your program.

4) Make it fun. We’ve all had Facebook fatigue, and even pledged to go cold turkey. Then, an hour later, we’re back checking updates and status. Why? Because social media is dynamic, ever-changing, and, at their best, just plain fascinating (pet pics notwithstanding). They’re vibrant social communities. You want to create the same kind of exciting dynamic with your gamification. This encourages honest and fair competition and a sense of ownership and anticipation. Make it fun and you have the chance for a leadership tool that builds community and ultimately transcends the workplace and engages people body, mind, and soul.

5) Support your team. Successful gamification requires buy-in and support at the highest levels of your organization. It can’t just be an add-on, or the latest managerial fad du jour. Make sure your gamification manager has direct access to leaders, and some real authority. It may be too early to think about naming a chief gamification officer. Then again, it may not. Halfway measures will ensure halfway results. Give gamification the leadership support it deserves.

Gamification is a relatively new field, but it’s yielding undeniable employee engagement and HR results. Because online, it feels trendy and exciting. But scratch the surface, and it’s a new variation on tried and true leadership practices: it motivates and engages employees and leads to stellar results. Let the HR games begin!

Rule #1 – Unless you actually try you cannot comment and be taken seriously. You must be in it to win it.

Photo credit: Wikipedia


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What Makes a Good Bank?

Chris Skinner

the good bankSAP is publishing the results of investigations into what make a good bank today.  It’s a research program led by Economist Intelligence Unit and co-sponsored by Credit Suisse and Mazars with support from Capgemini.

The research outlines how a good bank is based upon three pillars: effectiveness, trustworthiness, and innovation – and defines these as:

  • An effective bank delivers value to its shareholders by bringing value to its customers
  • The most important quality of the good bank is trust
  • Good banks innovate to attract new customers and encourage growth


That implies that most of the banks I’ve dealt with for the past five years have been bad banks.

They haven’t delivered any shareholder value; they’ve busted their trust with not just the public and the media, but also with government, shareholders and staff; and their major innovation has been in how to buck the regulation through regulatory arbitrage.

That does not sound good, does it?

But is this painting a true picture?

Are banks still hated?

Are they still as “socially useless” as they were described by Lord Turner, the then-chairman of the UK Regulator in 2009?

Interestingly, Mark Carney, the new Governor of the Bank of England, thinks yes.  In an interview with the BBC in August, he said:

“The focus [of a bank] has to be on the real economy – what it does for businesses making investments, what ultimately it means for jobs in the economy, and it’s the loss of that focus… that becomes socially useless.”


I must admit that this whole discussion leaves me conflicted.

Society, the media, governments, and the regulators want good banks that work for the interests of the economy and can be trusted to always do the right thing for the customer, the bank, and the country.

But that fails to note that the ultimate stakeholder in a bank is the shareholder.

The shareholder is not just the external body of investors, but often the senior management of the bank.

Bank executives still have a great deal of their personal remuneration tied to the success of the banks’ quarterly results and valuation on the global exchanges.

While this is the case, a bank and its senior management will behave in the interests of only the shareholder and not the stakeholder.

This means that governance of bank – the most critical area of transformation since the crisis hit the industry – has to build a balanced scorecard of motivation and remuneration based around a new balance.

A good bank balance if you like.

A socially useful scorecard if you prefer.

So the shareholder returns and share price are just one of the scorecard attributes, and would constitute just a fifth of the leadership team’s remuneration package.

Another fifth would be tied to compliance and regulatory relations.

Another fifth to economic performance in the banks constituent markets, and the relative financial health of those markets.

A firth would be tied to employee satisfaction.

A final fifth, and the one that should be the most important, would be tied to customer satisfaction.

This sounds like utopia.

And that’s exactly what it is.

Shareholders over-ride all aspect of proprietary banks focus and, unless they are nationalized, always will be.

So a good bank focuses upon shareholder return first, as noted; and is trusted by the stakeholders second; and innovates to attract new business third.

Sounds like the Economist Intelligence Unit has defined it pretty well and it’s not being socially useful, but just being a good bank that should be the measure of a bank’s progress.


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