PandoDaily has been following the tale of a wearable called the Healbe Gobe that can supposedly measure your glucose with a skin sensor and deduce your caloric intake. Unfortunately, this miracle device is probably bogus:
Since last writing about the GoBe, Pando’s investigation has focused on the medical claims behind the device. Ten days ago, when we spoke via Skype, Shipitsyn explained the device’s science to me as follows: when you eat sugar, the insulin causes your cells to open up and release water, which Healbe measures through the GoBe’s impedance monitor – a device that can track fluid levels – and allows Healbe to calculate your glucose level.
“That’s some straight Ghostbusters, Peter Venkman bullshit,” says Zubin Damania, a Stanford-educated, Las Vegas-based doctor.
In fact, all of the experts we spoke to agreed that an impedance monitor has no way of making any meaningful correlation between the level of fluid in our body and glucose levels. There also appears to be no medical literature showing anybody having tried to make Healbe’s link between fluid in our cells and glucose.
Even if true, the technological breakthroughs claimed by Healbe couldn’t “just magically come up out of thin air,” says Ries Robinson, the CEO of Medici Technologies, who has a Masters in mechanical engineering from Stanford and a degree in medicine from the University of New Mexico.
In spite of the complete lack of medical credentials, work history, scientific research, or any other background details which would back up or verify the claims made by the device's maker, Indiegogo has yet to pull the campaign. They haven't even suspended it or added a warning message.
This campaign is about to reach the million dollar mark and Indiegogo's only response was to change their FAQ:
What’s the right thing to do if your crowdfunding platform guarantees to detect “any and all” cases of fraud, but then is shown clear evidence by Pando of a near-$1m fraudulent campaign happening right now?
If you answered “suspend the fraudulent campaign,” you’re right.
If you answered “quietly delete the no fraud guarantee from our website,” you’re Indiegogo.
I’m not joking. Following a week of reporting by PandoDaily in which we exposed the junk science, corporate smoke and mirrors and flat lies behind Moscow-based Healbe’s Indiegogo campaign, Indiegogo finally took action yesterday. Not by suspending the campaign to protect its users, not by doing anything at all to ensure that thousands of people aren’t about to be swindled out of close to a million dollars… but by deleting the reference to their foolproof fraud detection from their support pages.
While I don't expect Indiegogo to be infallible, I do expect them to correct their mistakes and not simply cover their own ass by changing the rules. This is a tacit admission that they know the claims made about the Healbe Gobe are questionable at best, and rather than pull the campaign they're going to pretend there is no issue.
I plan to avoid Indiegogo in the future, and I think it would be a good idea or everyone to avoid the site.
One of the cornerstones of crowdfunding is trust. Indiegogo has shown that we cannot trust them to protect backers against unscrupulous campaigners, and that's why I trust this site about as much as I would trust a used car salesperson.