Mozilla Mastermind Taking His Talents to the Health Care Arena

December 16, 2010
Sean Johnson

Aza Raskin, Mozilla's famed Creative Director, is taking on a whole new industry: health care.

Mozilla’s Firefox browser is one of the most popular Internet browsers in use today, and a large reason for that is Aza Raskin, Mozilla’s Creative Director. But Raskin is taking on a whole new industry: health care.

Part of the reason the Mozilla rose to prominence in a crowded Internet browser space is due to their innovation and the unique features that their Web browser continues to provide. In many of those instances, Raskin was the driving force, and, most recently, Raskin announced that the new version of Firefox (set for release in Q1 of 2011) would include a brand new feature called Panorama (formerly called Tab Candy), which is poised to change the way people browse the Internet.

Unfortunately for Mozilla, Raskin will be leaving at the end of 2010. But the browser’s loss is the health care industry’s gain; he will be the foundation of a startup called Massive Health, which will “attempt to tighten feedback loops (so that users can more immediately know the effects of their efforts to be healthy), make data actionable and create better-designed personal health tools so users can take better care of themselves.”

Raskin announced on his the motivation behind his decision:

Each of us has a unique ability. I want to use mine—the knowledge to make products which are disruptively easier and more enjoyable to use—to change people’s lives. Life-changing not in the sense of a new social website or better email, but in making people’s lives materially better by helping them get and stay healthy. Anyone that’s been sick, overweight, or had to deal with a doctor knows that health is a field in dire need of humane design.

Right now, the Massive Health website is nothing but an image and a link to a Twitter account explaining that more details will come soon. The early reports are that there are some serious investors behind the project, but mum’s the word when it comes to features or an actual plan to enact change in health care. The sad fact is that many notable businessmen have attempted to put their stamp on health care by creating a revolutionary site and failed (I’m looking at you, Steve Case); it is without question one of the more difficult fields to find success in terms of creating an innovative website.

But one thing is for certain; if Raskin can translate his innovation and success from his time at Mozilla and even the projects that he has worked on prior to that stint, then the health care industry is in for a real treat. Raskin finished his blog post announcement by saying:

With health-care costs rising faster than inflation, a crisis is on the horizon. We need to apply cognitive psychology, the principles of design, and tighter feedback loops to our own health. Health care needs to have its design Renaissance, where products and services are redesigned to be responsive to human needs and considerate of human frailties…Massive Health, we think, can help make that happen.

Here’s hoping.

Around the Web

Leaving Mozilla, Starting Massive Health [Aza Raskin’s Blog]

Mozilla’s Creative Genius Seeks to Transform Health Care with New Startup [Mashable]

Design guru takes on healthcare; Ultimate self-tracker? [Mobi Health News]