Recently, a few members from our Interactive Media team were fortunate enough to attend ADC and GDC Next to learn about the latest trends in mobile app development.


Making friends at ADC.


Of course, being interested in health-related mobile apps, there were a good number of talks and attendees speaking about them. Sequence, a digital agency out of San Francisco, spoke about building the next-generation health sensor. While the talk was understandably light on implementation details, it gave us a great overview of the challenges and downsides with the current generation of sensors – they only track one thing (such as activity level for Nike and Fitbit), but what about tracking everything? What about tracking your activity level, sleep quality, posture, breathing capacity, and heart rate variability and then correlating that data for a massive quantified self view of the individual? That would be nice indeed, and we’re anxiously waiting for this to become reality.


Adrian Hong, the CEO of Six to Start, the company responsible for the wildly popular Zombies Run app, gave a great talk about both the challenges of making a mobile game in the healthcare space, and about transforming from an agency to a game development studio. Very interesting to hear about focused user testing, designing an app that people will want, and the fundraising on Kickstarter to fund your own project.


ADC / GDC Next had a classic arcade. Nice.


Not healthcare related, but Trulia VP of Engineering Jeff McConathy gave a frank and honest talk about developing for Google Glass. Always good to hear a first-person developer perspective on the reality of actual development – using the Mirror API, no Javascript, and not being able to get a user’s location for 10 minutes were some of the minor issues with development. In the end, the biggest challenge is simply user base as well as the viability of Glass as a real platform. That, and the fact that you can always just use the Trulia mobile app to do the same thing.


Doug sporting Google Glass. A lot of fascinating new tech waits for the perfect application to strike.

So was Google Glass hot or not? The INVIVO team was divided. It could be useful for continuous monitoring of health conditions or teaching, but it is limited by the amount of information in the display.


Finally, cross-platform development was the talk of the conference. There were new developments in cross platform app development and unit testing – Marmalade, Purple, Appium.

Unfortunately, the talks usually ended with no clear conclusion as to what can actually be done to achieve a write-once-deploy-anywhere solution. A lot of products simply rehashed HTML5 by re-skinning Cordova (PhoneGap) and / or generating awful-looking code. One thing that was clear is that users really hate products that are not designed for their platforms. Both Google and Apple will be happy to know that the trend is very much in favour of separate native development for each platform.


• eHealth or digital health is estimated to be a 30+ billion dollar industry by 2018 – making it worth more than the NBA.

• 2-eyes or 4-eyes? Our team saw 3D displays that do not require glasses and AR games projected off of a screen and viewed via glasses.

• Wearable Technology and is clearly the next step forward for mobile app development, including big players in quantified self devices like Nike Fuelband and Jawbone.

• Brain wave reading with devices such as NeuroSky has serious accuracy and precision limitations.  The application of this technology within the mobile app market is still trying to find its definitive niche.

• Health at home with Philips Vital Signs: reads heart and breathing rate via camera.

• Expect 3D gesture-based UI controllers to become increasingly commonplace in devices thanks to innovations with Thalmic Labs’ Myo, Xbox Kinect and Leap Motion.

Follow @Official_ADC and @Official_GDC and check out the conference talks at