Leslie Saxon, MD

Leslie Saxon, MD

The University of Southern California (USC) Center for Body Computing (CBC), part of Keck Medicine of USC, today announced this year’s four finalists in its annual USC CBC SLAM event where designers and creators improve health through the power of music. The finalists will present their concepts to the expert judging panel on October 2 where the winner will receive $10,000 and present the concept at the 8th annual USC Center for Body Computing conference the next day.

The USC CBC SLAM event, created this year in collaboration with Skullcandy Inc., challenged participants to visualize a sensor in music headphones and create an app or other program where music is the driver to engage and empower consumers in their personal health management. The participants had the choice of creating a product based on a single sensor or multiple sensors, and they had to provide the concept and create the experience for the judges.

The finalists and their concepts include:

Rachel Francine and Andy Tubman developed and created the SingFit app to find new solutions for everything from autism and depression to chronic pain and Parkinson’s disease, by using the world’s oldest medicine, music, in a 21st century fashion. SingFit digitizes the evidence-based music therapy technique of lyric prompting, which enables practically everyone, including those with dementia, autism and traumatic brain injuries to sing on a regular basis in order to achieve therapeutic goals. Francine and Tubman are co-founders of Los Angeles-based Music Health Tech.

Patrick Merel developed GeneGroove, the first app to play unique melodies from genome tests and information. The next phase of development connects GeneGroove to biosensors to make associations between genetic risks reported by genomic tests, genome music, behavior changes and biosensors feedback. Merel, founder and CEO of San Diego-based Portable Genomics, is also pursuing the gamification of genomics to engage and educate the next generation in genomics.

Rent Sidon created Rhythm EKG, a fitness app that modulates audio based on a listener’s biometric feedback to reinforce proper training habits and influence peak performance. Sidon holds multiple software patents and is developing an educational technology startup company focused on student performance through emphasis on process and brain-based executive skills.

Richard Warp developed Frequencer, a mobile app that creates musical environments based on a player’s body signals via a pair of headphones. The app listens for a range of physiological indicators such as attention, stress and meditation, and translates them into sound palettes that adapt to the internal state of the player. Warp, a San Francisco-based composer and music designer, developed Frequencer in conjunction with David Reeder and neuroscientist/musician Robert Gibboni.

These innovators were selected for their originality, the aesthetics of the user interface, and for the ways in which their solution enhances both the music experience and the health experience.

“Music and technology are inherently creative fields so combining these elements to promote improved health in an engaging way is what this competition is all about,” said Leslie Saxon, M.D., a cardiologist and executive director and founder of the USC Center for Body Computing. “We’re thrilled with the submissions and amazed by the ideas of the four finalists. Each of them essentially developed the soundtrack for consumers to create their own health stories.”

“I’m looking forward to hearing these inventors share their ideas with us, and I’m sure the decision for a winner will be a tough one,” said Hoby Darling, CEO of Skullcandy. “When passionate people set out to make something better – like our personal health – there’s nothing they can’t accomplish. I’m so glad to be part of this energetic group of people who want to harness the power of music to help people.”

The prestigious panel of judges for the USC CBC SLAM competition was chosen for their thought leadership roles in the worlds of digital health, entertainment and music:

Ty Braswell, Creative Digital Strategist
Braswell, an expert in digital engagement and a mobile marketing, currently leads the business development strategy at JASH Comedy, overseeing branded content projects for the online JASH comedy network founded by talent partners Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Tim & Eric, and Reggie Watts. Just over a year old with one million+ subscribers, JASH has produces branded content projects for major brands.

Seth “Hoby” Darling, CEO/President at Skullcandy Inc.
Hoby has led a transformation of the Skullcandy business and placed the company on a path to deliver sustainable growth. Previously, he was general manager of Nike+ Digital Sport, head of strategy and planning for Nike Affiliates, senior vice president of strategic development and general counsel at Volcom Inc., a youth lifestyle apparel company.

Steven LeBoeuf, Ph.D., co-founder and president of Valencell Inc.
LeBoeuf has raised more than $10 million in funding for Valencell and is the inventor/co-inventor of more than 50 patents. Previously, he led the optoelectronic biosensor program at GE Global Research, where he managed the development and productization of biosensor systems and developed cutting-edge nanosensor technology. Before joining GE, LeBoeuf developed optoelectronic solid-state materials and devices while a researcher at North Carolina State University.

Ariel Schwartz, senior editor, Fast Company
Schwartz is senior editor at Co.Exist, Fast Company’s spinoff focusing on “world-changing innovation for good.” She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.

“Digital health is driving the innovation and information patients need in an increasingly complex health care world,” said Tom Jackiewicz, senior vice president and CEO of USC Health, which oversees Keck Medicine of USC. “We’re proud to have the USC Center for Body Computing as a leader in this movement of empowering consumers to take charge of their personal health management.”

by Meg Aldrich