Be careful about diagnostic health apps

There is tremendous potential with using apps and connectivity to improve health care. We can now accomplish incredible things using today’s technology, but there will be limits.

Here’s an article about how four new apps for skin care fared when tested to identify melanoma. Three of the four had very poor ratings, but the reason is very interesting.

Here’s the important thing: The three apps that failed to spot melanomas 30% of the time all use digital image analysis techniques. Computers decide whether a mole is cancerous or not. The fourth app actually sends images to a dermatologist, who replies with an evaluation in 24 hours. That fourth app correctly identified 52 out of 53 melanomas that researchers sent along. Such accuracy doesn’t come cheap–the app charges $5 per image, which is enough to drive many people towards the cheaper digital image analysis apps (they ranged from free to $4.99, with no individual charge per lesion).

The key here is that software and machines can only take us so far, at least with today’s technology. Apps like this work best when there is a human component. I suspect that the machine can handle the very easy cases, but then we need an expert to make the tough calls.

So get excited, but stay wary when you hear some of these claims.


Best of the Web: App reviews

We’re taking a trip around the web to find sites with informative and entertaining app reviews. With the explosion of smartphones and social media, apps are now everywhere, and younger kids view them as ubiquitous as television. For the rest of us, it’s amazing how one app can make our life easier and completely change the way we’ve done something for years. Other are just fun as hell. We’re flooded with them however, so it’s always nice to get tips from experts around the web.

Gizmodo iPhone App of the Week
This powerhouse tech blog focuses specifically on apps for particular devices, with this one here for the iPad.

You’ll find an app of the week feature in the content-rich apps section of this popular tech site.

APP Chronicles
Tons of write-ups of free apps.

Bullz-Eye App of the Week primarily covers men’s lifestyle topics, but this feature covers a wide variety of apps.

ABC News Technology Review
This tech section has an well-done app of the week series.


Uber ready to roll in DC

It looks like all the fat cats in Washington DC will be able to take advantage of Uber, the hot new app for scheduling limo service.


4 Really Cool Mobile Apps That Organize Your Day

Did you know that your Blackberry is only as good as the mobile apps you have downloaded on it? It’s true. Smartphones, especially Blackberry devices are only as good – or as cool – as the mobile apps that are downloaded on them.

Image Courtesy of Flickr

Mobile apps can transform a seemingly useless handheld mobile phone into something fun, entertaining, and exciting. However, to do that you need to first know which mobile apps to download.

The following is a look at some cool mobile apps that all Blackberry phones should have downloaded on them.


Everyone knows that smartphones can be used as an alarm clock. So why would anyone want to download an alarm clock onto their Blackberry device? The simple answer, because this is super cool.

puZZed is an automated alarm clock that automatically starts to ring at the designated time. However, instead of being able to shut the clock off with a push of a button, this one requires that you solve a puzzle before it will turn off. When you purchase this mobile app you’ll have the option to choose math, typing, matching, or memory puzzles. There will be no sleeping in when the puZZed app is around.


Relive the memories of being able to talk to your friends on walkie talkies with the BeepUs mobile app. This mobile app will instantly turn your Blackberry device into a real life walkie talkie – only better. When this mobile app is downloaded it allows you to perform a push-to-talk action that instantly connects you with the friend on the other line. Sure, you could just pick up the phone and call, but the BeepUs app allows you to relieve some of your favorite childhood memories.

Home to Phone

Every top Blackberry mobile app list has to have some practical mobile app, and that is where the Home to Phone mobile app comes in. The Home to Phone app allows users to send valuable information back and forth from a home computer or laptop, to a Blackberry device. Whether it is a menu to your favorite restaurant, directions to a party, or just phone and address information for a store, the Home to Phone mobile app will allow you to instantly send the information you need right to your smartphone.

Tune In

Radios may be a thing of the past, but the radio stations aren’t. Download the Tune In mobile app and you can turn your Blackberry device into a radio. You’ll be able to listen to thousands of different radio stations at just a touch of a button. The best part of it all is there are no ad interruptions, allowing you to enjoy your favorite radio stations as if you were listening to them live.

Owning a Blackberry phone can be a fun and exciting experience, but only if you have the right apps downloaded. Take a few minutes and consider downloading some of these really cool mobile apps, and you’ll be able to turn your Blackberry device into a super cool handheld phone.


Groupon 2.0


Groupon is evolving from a crowdsourcing engine to drive customers to restaurants and retailers to a more targeted, time-sensitive tool.

Groupon Now offers two simple buttons – “I’m Hungry” and “I’m Bored.” The idea is simple – to match people in real time and place to establishments looking to get rid of excess goods. Here’s an example:

It’s only 11 a.m. Mason clicks the “hungry” button, and his phone transmits its location to Groupon’s servers and then displays a list of deals from nearby restaurants. Across a bridge spanning the Chicago River, the Asian fusion restaurant Thalia Spice is testing Groupon Now by offering $20 worth of food for $12. A block to the north, an eatery named @ Spot Café is dangling a $10 coupon for $6. Each restaurant has specified that its discount is good only during select hours on that particular day, when a few of their tables would otherwise be empty.

And that, Mason declares as he taps his phone and purchases $8 of savings from Thalia Spice, could turn Groupon into a combination Yellow Pages, Valpak coupon packet, and price-conscious concierge for millions of consumers. “People could end up being driven to eat by what they find on Groupon and when they find it,” he beams.

The advantage for restaurants is pretty obvious, but very significant.

Unlike Groupon’s daily deals, which tend to generate a flood of customers, Groupon Now might lure just a few, but at the right time. Rob Solomon, Groupon’s president, says the true promise of Groupon Now is to help eliminate perishable inventory—food ingredients, labor hours, and anything else that’s wasted if not used immediately. “If we can eliminate 10 percent of perishability, we can change the dynamics for small business owners,” he says. Small businesses would become more like airlines, matching supply against demand to maximize revenues. “If we get this right,” Solomon says, “we are going to influence what tens of millions of people are buying at a frequency that we have never seen before.”

Imagine sushi restaurants in particular. Sushi fans are familiar with half-price sushi nights, and naturally the restaurant cycles its inventory to get rid of the perishable food on those nights. But now they can do flash deals during the week – like all-you-can eat salmon sushi if they have excess inventory they’ll have to toss the next day.

These ideas aren’t really that new, but Groupon’s reach and restaurant contacts put the company in a position to take the most advantage of these types of apps.


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