Medical Technology Advances – Spotlight #314

Good Monday morning. It’s October 21st. The Washington Nationals face the Houston Astros to start baseball’s World Series on Tuesday night. 

2. News To Know Now

1. Facebook will change the way it counts the number of times someone has seen an organization’s posts. The company says that the change will be less extreme than the change in Q1 and appears to adjust the number of impressions downward. There has been scant information about this news that broke Friday, and we expect more this week. [AdWeek]

2. Facebook has also opened its search channel to advertisers after months of testing. When you search for a page or person on Facebook, you will now see advertising mixed in with the results.

3. A bill that would create personal penalties for corporate executives leading organizations with data privacy problems was introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) last week. Wyden is the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee that will first consider the legislation. [Ars Technica, Congress.gov Legislation Tracking]

3.  Medical Technology on Consumer Devices

Medical technology advances are enabling prolonged lifespans in many developed countries, and consumer devices are now being pressed into service to help medical practitioners help you prevent and fight diseases. 

Mobile phones and wearable devices such as fitness trackers are the tools fueling change. A top-end smartphone tends to lag the power of computer desktops by as little as five years. Mobile usage rates continue skyrocketing across all groups and have caused substantial decreases in other device sales. That means that your smartphone is as powerful as computers from only a few years ago and much more likely to be nearby.

Consider these medical technology advances that seemed aspirational ten years ago:

  • Google’s Android Live Transcribe app creates talk-to-text “instant captioning” in seventy different languages, a boon to hearing impaired people.
  • CPAP machines used by millions to treat sleep apnea now often use a home’s computer network or a device’s bluetooth connection to automatically upload sleep data directly to physicians.
  • Taking a selfie video with your phone can diagnose high blood pressure based on how software interprets the smartphone’s light interacting with your skin. There are still major kinks to work out, but with 1.1 billion hypertension sufferers worldwide, there is plenty of upside.
  • Beauty company L’Oreal created a nine millimeter wide sensor that measures UV exposure. The device can store three months of data.
  • Don’t forget that video conferencing was essentially unavailable in the mobile marketplace until 2012. A recent data analysis of insurance claims shows that consumers are availing themselves of video visits to doctors and clinicians.

Plenty of issues still need to be decided, especially data privacy and securing medical devices that consumers may wear. We told you previously about security researchers who had to prove to Medtronics that they could hack an insulin pump and withhold or overdose insulin into a vulnerable patient.

4.  Google Search Updates

Advertisers can now create a lead form that appears directly in Google’s search results. The information is then sent to the company. It’s part of the ongoing process we’ve been following and sharing with you that allows Google to be a sole distribution point for as many search queries as possible. They describe the process as frictionless, which is a phrase that certain members of the fox family often use when asked to guard a chicken coop.

A substantial part of that initiative is the often-overlooked Google Books project, which just celebrated its fifteenth anniversary. What started out as Page and Brin’s “audacious goal of organizing the world’s information” now includes a digitization project of more than forty million books. Google rolled out a new interface last week and greatly improved the search screens. Google already keeps the results one click away from every search result.

Google continues to be interested in crowd-sourced data and will now allow Apple users to report traffic congestion, crashes, speed traps, and similar information using Google Maps. This information can appear when people search for how to find a business. In online search forums where marketers sometimes speculate about nefarious things, the notion of negative information on maps is a big deal. Let your imagination run wild with tales of chronic traffic slowdowns and undesirable yet fictitious businesses nearby.

Google is also cautioning organizations not to use a separate domain to present your website to mobile users. That’s because they are not always sure what device a search is using and might display mobile-optimized pages to desktop computer users. Our takeaway is that mobile device vs. desktop device optimization is best left to people who study such things.  Need more details? Point the responsible person in your org to this YouTube Q&A with Google analyst John Mueller.

5. Debugged: Flu Vaccine does not cause polio

Things are bad enough when untrained lay people incorrectly insist that flu vaccines cause influenza. They can’t and don’t. Now a stupid meme is making the rounds on Instagram claiming that “over 1,100 people died from reactions to the flu shot” last year. And that it causes polio in children. 

The flu vaccine does not give children polio. Severe allergies do occur at the rate of 1.3 allergic reactions per one million doses. Those reactions caused one person to be hospitalized in the last three years. No one died from the flu shot.

Get more facts here if you need them.

6. Also in the Spotlight

Lyft is offering free or discounted rides to job seekers and to new hires still waiting for their first paycheck. The USO, United Way, and Goodwill are partners. [Lyft]

Pinterest is allowing users to “fine tune” their pin feeds and get recommendations about their secret boards. Head over to this explanation on their site to learn more. [Pinterest]

7. Great Data: An Interactive that Teaches 

MIT has created the Court Algorithm Game (yay, algo games!) that allows users to set standards for whether a judge should jail a defendant. There’s no code involved, promises MIT, which uses an iterative process to take visitors through some of the complexity that a human or software program faces when making this recommendation.

I learned a lot from this tool. That’s why it’s great data.

8. Protip: Your Data After Your Death

You know when you need a digital executor, and yes, I do. But most people don’t. They just need to someone to help memorialize their Facebook timeline and to get their data out of Google.

The funny and smart people at The Next Web take you through how to do the latter in their feature from this weekend, “RIP: How to stop Google from stealing all your data after you die.

9. Bizarre Bazaar (strange stuff for sale online)

If you write a compelling 50 word answer about why art matters,  British artist Banksy may deign to sell you a clutch for £750 ($968 USD) or a mug for much less. Some items like the clutch are limited editions. Some like the mug are priced around $13-15 to keep the man outfitted in spray paint.

Visit Gross Domestic Product, the homewares brand of Banksy.

10. Coffee Break: Traffic planning simulator

Remember that MIT interactive tool showing you how hard it is to be a judge from three items ago? It’s also really hard to design optimum traffic flow. That’s why Google Maps wants to report about it. 

Go ahead and take a spin on this simulator that lets you change road types, truck behavior, noise levels, and all sorts of variables.

There’s a politeness indicator for drivers changing lanes that I cranked down to zero to mimic the DC Beltway.

Start your engines!

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