Magic Leap One
Not yet available
TO MARKET Augmented reality has advanced a lot in the past year. One of
the most anticipated gadgets is from the secretive, massively
funded (nearly $2 billion) Florida-based startup Magic Leap. It
unveiled its first AR headset, Magic Leap One, at the end of 2017,
saying it will ship in 2018. Styled sort of like a modern pair of
steampunk goggles, the black headset is meant for developers,
and the company says it will produce images that look great while
being comfortable to wear—two goals that have eluded many AR
headset makers thus far. Magic Leap has been working toward
this release since 2011, but there are still a lot of details to be
worked out, including price and release date. —Rachel Metz
Consumer DNA testing company 23andMe
has begun what it terms a “massive study”
into the genetic basis of weight loss. The
company, based in Mountain View, California, has contacted 1. 3 million of its customers with an o;er to take part in the project
by sticking to one of two diets or an exercise plan for three months, reporting back
on whether their waistlines grew or shrank.
The crowdsourced study may prove to
be the most comprehensive attempt yet to
discern the links between people’s genes
and dieting success. 23andMe hopes what
it learns will let it create predictive models
that provide tailored weight-loss advice
as part of its consumer genetic reports.
Already, consumers can pick from a
dozen or more DNA tests that promise diet
insights. But the tests have come under
withering criticism from prominent doctors who say they’re no better than the tips
you’d get from a nutritionist or a friend at
the gym. The advice might be okay; it’s the
DNA test that’s a waste of money.
According to 23andMe, previous stud-
ies attempting to link DNA to dieting out-
comes haven’t had enough participants to
zero in on genetic factors. Its new project
will involve 10 to 50 times as many vol-
unteers as previous work, says Geo;rey
Benton, the company’s head of health R&D.
The company holds DNA data on more
than three million customers who have
sent in saliva samples. That makes it one
of the two or three largest biobanks in the
world. After customers’ DNA is analyzed,
they receive reports about their geographic
ancestry, how many Neanderthal genes
they have, and a few hereditary health
risks. Buyers also receive a prediction of
their body mass based on their genes, a
report telling them whether they have an
inborn tendency to be heavier or thinner.
The problem is 23andMe can’t yet tell them
what to do about it.
Starting last May, 23andMe began
exploring whether it could convince its
customers to carry out at-home experi-
ments. It began with a pain tolerance test
in which it asked people to see how long
they could keep a hand in a bowl of ice
water. That was followed by a sleep study
in which about 6,000 volunteers were ran-
domly assigned to change their behavior in
specific ways, like avoiding co;ee or agree-
ing not to look at a screen starting 30 min-
utes before bedtime. “We wanted to see if
we could actually do an interventional trial
from start to finish and do it remotely from
23andMe,” Benton says.
With the new dieting study, 23andMe
will randomly assign people to one of three
plans. Some will avoid bread, cakes, and
other carbohydrates. Another group will eat
more fiber but shun animal fat. A third will
eat as usual but add workouts to their week.
They’ll report back to the company about
how often they have “cravings,” whether
they’re stressed, and if they succeed in following the diets.
The company thinks people will have
roughly the same results on all the plans.
But it may be able to figure out whether
there are genetic reasons why some people
will lose 40 pounds and others gain 10 no
matter which advice they follow.
With its diet study, 23andMe could
demonstrate that its “platform” is suited
to carrying out very large clinical trials of
the type normally performed by research
universities or drug companies. That could
be commercially valuable, since 23andMe
already sells genetic data to pharmaceutical companies and sometimes helps them
locate people with specific diseases.
23andMe launches a giant
The consumer DNA testing company seeks 100,000 volunteers to help it link
genes to diet success.