June 25, 2010


I have been AWOL from the diabetes online community for a bit. Here's why: I have been working on a series of short films fro Friends For Life.

The project is called "theBetesNow." Astute students of the DOC may have seen a bit on Diabetes Mine about it.  Sucks to be scooped on your own project by Amy but hey props to her for being on the ball with the news.

The goal is to have some fun, bring a mix of new and familiar faces into a different format. So stay tuned  the results of our efforts will soon start trickling on to the internet.

June 4, 2010

Didget III - To the Internet and Beyond

The ambition of the Didget is very impressive. Bayes has built a meter with a Nintendo component and an online community for kids. This, my third review of the Didget, looks at that internet component.

YDMV's other Didget bits can be found here:
Didget II

Kids need to connect the Didget to their computer to get to the community. This may help some build the habit of connecting and downloading. Good idea. Very clever.

Bayers Diabetes tag line is Simple Wins. They use a standard USB cable to connect. That is simple. Kudos to the design team for skipping over the proprietary connector.

Maybe the plug team should sit down with the software guys. It was anything but simple to connect and register to the site. First in my lack of caffeination I tried to use my Mac with FireFox and I couldn’t load the browser extension needed. Then I used my daughter’s PC. I was doing this early and clearly needed more coffee. Every time I missed a field on the sign up form it erased three others. It wanted a little more information than I really wanted to share like my kid’s date of birth (and the drop down didn’t go back prior to 2000 unless you pick 200 and then re-drop down.)

OK I did get signed up in due course but it wasn’t simple. Much of that seemed to be for security. That is great. Kids should be secure and part of that, IMHO, is asking less.

In time and in need of Starbucks, I got in.

There are a number of sections starting with a set up screen. You can see here it is looking for the Didget serial number, building the connect habit:

After signing up there is an arcade where you can buy more games with points earned primarily from testing and testing consistently over time.

The Arcade looks like this:

For everyone concerned about making value judgments on BS, blood sugar testing and testing at least four times a day, every day over time is how the vast majority of points are earned in the game.

Another tab is a mood Ring that kids can use to express their mood with a drop down and there is a lot of choices.

Themes some are free and some need points and I didn't capture the screen.

A Tiki Mask answer machine (aka magic 8 ball). Here I ask it why it doesn't like my Mac.

A game leader board which I don’t have a picture of because it had user names on it and I will not even show a made up name of someone else’s kid on the internet.

Carb Calculator: Pick food and servings and it estimates carbs. It looks like it uses carb exchanges. For the scale and count users it may not be accurate enough. I do like the idea of making carb counting accessible to kids and in the context of their world and for a lot of kids (Your Kid May Vary) games are their space.

Kids can ask other users to be friends. I didn’t test this because well I try not to be a creepy old guy talking to kids online and that how it would have felt asking of a friend. I couldn’t see any thing about other kids than their name and a button to request being friends. There didn't seem to be a lot of users yet.

When you sign in as a parent you see completely different stuff. One piece I was impressed to see was that considered that a parent may have more than one type 1 kid. As a parent you also get a menu screen and it looks like this:

From the parent menu we geezers can view logs and such, well that is if you have been using the meter and as I said in Didget II my kids found out the Didget strips fit the Contour USB and they have been fighting over that meter. This is what the screen looks like, you can imagine numbers:

Editorializing to follow:
My older kid doesn’t see the value in a diabetes only communities online. At least that was his response to some of the big advocacy groups sites. Diabetes isn’t the only thing about him or define him and he prefers to stay in touch with his type 1 friends with Facebook and text messages. (Most of these friends are from CWD’s Friends For Life gotta get that plug in. It is a great program.)

However just because my kids isn’t into the idea doesn’t mean other kids will feel the same. Other may like it a lot, and the target demo here is younger than most Facebook users and this is a way less public place. (You have to connect a meter to get in.) In fact the value of FFL (see plug in prior paragraph) is being around and connecting with other kids with type 1. I think the value of focused community is huge. I think communities work best when one size fits the size it fits. One site doesn't fit all. People connect from the state of mind that they are in and facilitating small communities makes that possible. Marketers call it niche marketing. I think it is more significant than marketing.

Let me digress a bit here and talk right into the camera at Bayer.

Dudes (and I mean that in a non-gender specific way) - suck it up and get back to FFL. I don’t know why you stopped coming. I can guess but I don’t care why. In the words of the Beatles, “Get back to where you once belonged.” I miss your presence and I know others do to. You have some seriously strong products and families with diabetes need to see them. Rejoin the community there.

Back to the Didget and off my rant. I think this is a very significant product. It doesn't try to be the meter for everyone including your uncle with type 2. It take the idea of diabetes care and focuses on habits, specifically rewarding regular testing in the day, every day all month. The rewarding is in the context of a particular user community, kids. It maybe too old for some and too young for other and in that it is brilliant. It was made to fit one size not all.

The Didget is not a meter it is a system designed to promote the development of habits of care in kids. The system is the meter, the Nintendo game and the online components working together. Building a set of tools that are a kid focused system is brilliant.

I doubt we will be users. Our kids are part of the too old. Still I applaud the effort to bring management tools into kids' worlds. It is well conceived, focused and as such not for everyone, not even all kids. That is brilliant.



June 3, 2010

Another Cake or Two

My nephew just graduated from high school. For the last two years he was a dorm student and regular dinner guest. He and his roommate would come down for an upgraded over the dining hall. They both were lasagna fans and we would make huge batches of the stuff.

If one couldn’t make it down the other came and took back a take out box. It was a running gag that who ever came down for dinner ate the box as soon as he got back to the dorm and taunted they guy who couldn’t make it.

That is how guys are. It's simple. It works. We think it is hysterical.

For graduation we had a family lunch for my nephew and made him a cake that looked a lot like something else.

We made his roommate his own put it in a takeout box. We handed it off at graduation to the roommate. If we hadn’t I figure my nephew would have eaten it too just out of tradition.

June 2, 2010

Didget II

We have had the Didget rattling about the house for a while and I haven’t done much with it.

By design.

I opened it up read over the literature and handed it (the meter not the literature) over to Delaney. We laughed at the manual (Particularly the right side up part - Good Friend of the Blog Lorraine explains why in her review of the Didget) and then we watched Top Gear because that is what we do. After the Botswana Special, she played the game and announced it was a lot like Pokemon.

This information meant very little to me. What I know of Pokemon is the sum total this; before blood test strips, there were Pokemon cards all over the house. In fact for all I know there may still be Pokemon cards under the carpet of used strip we call the floor.

Anyway, I intentionally didn’t interact with Delaney as she used the Didget. I was curious to see what her reaction would be.

I think I should preface this next bit with - she is a few days from being a teen. I suspect that she is older than the target market for this meter-game combination.

After the initial, “It is cool!” her comment was, “It is huge.”

It is. Maybe not large enough to have it’s own moon orbiting it but I think it’s gravitational pull effects the tides.

I found it very interesting that when she discovered that the strips worked in the Contour USB she started testing with the USB. Then Connor stuck it in his pocket. Some where in this the Didget fell off the coffee table in the living room and nobody picked it up for a few days where it risked being layered into a geological strata with the strips and Pokemon cards.

My first test was this: Will the Didget hold the interest of an almost teenaged kid in my house?


I think my baby daughter is too old and so experienced with meters that the game and the large meter form factor do not work for her.

So I poked around (get it poked around, diabetes, Pokemon?!? I kill myself with this stuff! - Ok ok you want to kill me too, I’ll knock it off.) I think there is a very distinct market for this thing. Connor was diagnosed at 9. Delaney at 7. We charted and used stickers as rewards for their testing the number of times they were meant to and all kinds of happy smoke blowing stuff like that. Still sticking sharp steel in their fingers got old before it became a habit.

This meter would have been crazy useful in helping build those habits and making the whole crappy newly diagnosed experience a little better - a little more of their world and less of the medical industrial complex's world.

A little then is a lot.

I am way in favor ever little bit.

With that big picture said, time fo I wish that some of the game / bonus parameters were user definable. As in Your Diabetes May Vary so how you would like to use the game interface to reinforce care behaviors may vary too.  Specifically I would like to have control over the target of 4 test per day to reach the bonus points. I would make the magic number a little higher. Say test before each meal two snacks and bedtime for the grand total of 6. Yeah that is a little nit picky but what the heck I am meant pick nits aren’t I?

From what I have read there are other aspects of the Didget ecosystem (stole that ecosystem phrase from Continua) that I hope to investigate in future post. 

Until then I am a fan of what the Didget is trying to do. Specifically demystify the freaking meter, make it common and accessible and encouraging kids to make care behaviors habits in their world.

I am fascinated but not suppressed by my kids’ using the Didget strip in the Contour USB and their little turf war over it. Bayer has stepped up their game in meter design. I love the creativity and kid appeal of the Didget and the adult sophistication of the Contour USB. Good design rocks!

I believe in options and markets that deliver choices to consumers.

If Your Diabetes May Vary so should the tools used to manage it.

Kudos to Bayer for getting that.

For more T1 parental perspectives on the Didget visit my friends and fellow T1 Bloggers:
Leighann - D-Mom