A new app created by IBM and Australia’s Menzies School of Health Research has the power to let us glimpse the future effect on our bodies if we continue to indulge in excess alcohol, poor diets, and smoking.
There are very few who haven’t wondered what it might be like to peek into what the future might hold for us. Who hasn’t asked themselves questions about the future such as, where might I be? How will I feel? What will I look like?
Not even our brightest scientific minds can answer all those questions. Not yet at least.
However, a newly released health application called HealthLAB Time Machine has taken a technological leap forward to help provide answers to some of them.
And, from a health point of view, those answers might just be among the most important answers some of us will ever get.
HealthLAB Time machine, created by tech giant IBM and Australia’s Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin, is aimed at youth and aspires to create better health outcomes. It has been successfully piloted in the Northern Territory with Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander youths, although it also has health applications across the wider Australian community.
Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and leveraging the IBM Design Thinking technology, the app is a 21st century version of a crystal ball, allowing each of us to draw back the curtain of time to see how an unhealthy lifestyle may affect us as we grow older.
The app lets users input how poor diet, alcohol misuse and smoking can impact their health, which is reflected in their appearance as they age. HealthLAB, co-developed by KWPTech!, is hosted on IBM’s secure, open and enterprise- grade public cloud and accessible by a web browser on an iPad.
“We are really excited to share the HealthLAB Time Machine app with young people across urban, regional and remote Australia,” says Associate Professor Heidi Smith-Vaughan from Menzies HealthLAB.
“The apps primarily visual format captures the attention of youth and overcomes language barriers, and its digital transportability makes it ideal as a health promotion tool for us to use across vast distances in regional and remote Australia.
“Piloting with Northern Territory youth was a great success in getting them engaged in thinking about their health choices. Hopefully, we’ll see these youth having second thoughts before drinking alcohol, smoking and eating junk food.”
Success for the app hinges on a simple yet extremely important fact about young people – they are never far from their phones. “Our customer experience process uncovered insights clearly showing that ‘selfies’ were the obvious way to reach and engage young Australians,” says Natalie Morley, managing director of KWPTech! “We’re proud to have been able to bring creativity that works to deliver such important health outcomes.”
The Time Machine app project is a result of IBM’s continued work with the Northern Territory Government and seeks to improve health outcomes in regional areas across the territory.
James Jackson, IBM client executive for South Australia and the Northern Territory, says: “IBM is proud to continue a long standing relationship with the Northern territory Government to deliver this wonderful project that uses AI and IBM cloud technology to help improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians across the NT for years to come.
“Together with Menzies through The Bridging the Gap Foundation and KWPTech! we blended strategy, design and technology to bring this app to life.”
The HealthLAB project is a face-to-face experience for participants with a clinical coordinator and trained staff who can discuss chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, alcohol literacy and smoking.
A participant’s health is measured against the benchmarks for these diseases using modern technology. The test results and health implications will be explained to the participant in detail by the clinical coordinator and trained staff.
Use this app to record your HealthLAB results and to receive healthy living tips.
Women Love Tech is proud to partner with IBM Australia on this initiative.. All opinions expressed by the author are authentic and written in their own words.