Google is changing the way it displays search queries to pull medical facts directly into its results.
The medical information is being added to the company’s Knowledge Graph, which underpins Google’s instant search results and powers Google’s Now personal assistant and app. It will allow health questions to be answered directly, without a user having to click.
Google already does this with dictionary definitions, schedules for big sporting events and Wikipedia extracts for famous people. Knowledge Graph is essentially a built-in encyclopaedia, which pulls in facts, data and illustrations from various sources.
One in 20 searches on Google are health-related, according to the company. “We’ll show you typical symptoms and treatments, as well as details on how common the condition is – whether it’s critical, if it’s contagious, what ages it affects, and more,” said Prem Ramaswami, a product manager for Google’s search.
In an era of email, text messages, Facebook and Twitter, we’re all required to do several things at once. But this constant multitasking is taking its toll. Here neuroscientist Daniel J Levitin explains how our addiction to technology is making us less efficient
Our brains are busier than ever before. We’re assaulted with facts, pseudo facts, jibber-jabber, and rumour, all posing as information. Trying to figure out what you need to know and what you can ignore is exhausting. At the same time, we are all doing more. Thirty years ago, travel agents made our airline and rail reservations, salespeople helped us find what we were looking for in shops, and professional typists or secretaries helped busy people with their correspondence. Now we do most of those things ourselves. We are doing the jobs of 10 different people while still trying to keep up with our lives, our children and parents, our friends, our careers, our hobbies, and our favourite TV shows.
Our smartphones have become Swiss army knife–like appliances that include a dictionary, calculator, web browser, email, Game Boy, appointment calendar, voice recorder, guitar tuner, weather forecaster, GPS, texter, tweeter, Facebook updater, and flashlight. They’re more powerful and do more things than the most advanced computer at IBM corporate headquarters 30 years ago. And we use them all the time, part of a 21st-century mania for cramming everything we do into every single spare moment of downtime. We text while we’re walking across the street, catch up on email while standing in a queue – and while having lunch with friends, we surreptitiously check to see what our other friends are doing. At the kitchen counter, cosy and secure in our domicile, we write our shopping lists on smartphones while we are listening to that wonderfully informative podcast on urban beekeeping.
But there’s a fly in the ointment. Although we think we’re doing several things at once, multitasking, this is a powerful and diabolical illusion. Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT and one of the world experts on divided attention, says that our brains are “not wired to multitask well… When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost in doing so.” So we’re not actually keeping a lot of balls in the air like an expert juggler; we’re more like a bad amateur plate spinner, frantically switching from one task to another, ignoring the one that is not right in front of us but worried it will come crashing down any minute. Even though we think we’re getting a lot done, ironically, multitasking makes us demonstrably less efficient.
Company exploring creation of online ‘support communities’ that would connect users suffering from various ailments
Facebook already knows who your friends are and the kind of things that grab your attention. Soon, it could also know the state of your health.
On the heels of fellow Silicon Valley technology companies Apple and Google, Facebook is plotting its first steps into the fertile field of healthcare, said three people familiar with the matter. The people requested anonymity as the plans are still in development.
The company is exploring creating online “support communities” that would connect Facebook users suffering from various ailments. A small team is also considering new “preventative care” applications that would help people improve their lifestyles.
In recent months, the sources said, the social networking giant has been holding meetings with medical industry experts and entrepreneurs, and is setting up a research and development unit to test new health apps. Facebook is still in the idea-gathering stage, the people said.
Tu teléfono no sólo es tu mejor amigo: ahora también es tu entrenador personal, instructor, nutricionista, monitor de la calidad del sueño, laboratorio médico e incluso además tu doctor.
La “salud digital” se ha convertido en la nueva Meca de la industria de la tecnología. Tanto las modestas nuevas empresas dedicadas a crear aplicaciones para móviles como las grandes compañías del sector están buscando la forma de sacar provecho a las preocupaciones sobre la salud y el bienestar.
Mientras se multiplican las aplicaciones que miden la frecuencia cardíaca, la presión arterial, la glucosa y otras funciones fisiológicas, los gigantes Google, Apple y Samsung han lanzado plataformas que facilitan integrar los servicios médicos y de salud.
“Hemos llegado al punto en que tenemos sensores en nuestro teléfono o accesorios usables (como pulseras, relojes, zapatos y cintos) capaces de recopilar información que antes era imposible obtener sin acudir a un centro médico”, dijo Gerry Purdy, analista de Compass Intelligence.
“Puedes revisar tu frecuencia cardíaca con electrocardiogramas en los móviles. Los costos están bajando y estos sensores se están volviendo socialmente cada vez más aceptables”, agregó.
La consultora Rock Health estima que 143 empresas dedicadas a la salud digital han ganado 2.300 millones de dólares durante el primer semestre de 2014, cifra que sobrepasa el total del año pasado.
Además, un análisis de la consultora mundial Deloitte sugiere que las firmas que venden gafas y relojes inteligentes, así como pulseras y cintos que rastrean la actividad física, venderán unas 10 millones de unidades para fin de año, creando un negocio de más de 3.000 millones de dólares. Para 2017, adelanta, la venta de estos aparatos alcanzará las 170 millones de unidades.