Archive for October, 2015

October 9, 2015

Facebook’s ‘Dislike’ button unveiled, and it’s :-O !


Over the years, users have clamored for a Facebook “Dislike” button.

Now, finally, we know how Facebook feels about the request.

Facebook Loves it with a big red heart.

Or finds it Funny, with squinty-eyed, open-mouthed, laughing mirth.

Or Facebook finds the requests Surprising with open-mouthed “Wow!-ness”, or with one-tear-rolling down the cheek Sadness, or with orange-forehead glowering MADNESS!!!

Yes, that’s right – rather than a simple thumbs-down Dislike button, Facebook is testing a set of six additional emojis that, at this stage, line up as options next to the standard “Like” button.

According to a posting Mark Zuckerberg made on his Facebook page on Thursday, the emojis are “Reactions” that line up next to the plain old Like, signifying Love, Haha, Yay, Wow, Sad and Angry.

What he had to say about these very-much-not-thumbs-down emojis:

For many years ... people have asked us to add a "dislike" button. Not every moment is a good moment, and sometimes you just want a way to express empathy. These are important moments where you need the power to share more than ever, and a Like might not be the best way to express yourself.

At a Q&A last month, in response to yet another question about the Dislike option, Zuckerberg said that Facebook was working on getting some more nuance into users’ hands beyond the Like button.

He said that Facebook has spent a lot of time thinking about “the best way to give you better options for expressing yourself, while keeping the experience simple and respectful.”

The company started to test what it’s calling “Reactions” on Thursday, rolling it out first to users in Ireland and Spain.

To use the feature, you long-press the Like button until the six Reactions pop up, and you choose one from there.

Posts will reportedly show reaction counts alongside the number of comments: for example, 10 Loves, 4 Yays.

In retrospect, the introduction of emojis and the shunning of a thumbs-down button isn’t surprising.

Plenty of users have, reasonably enough, wanted an option besides Like, given how inappropriate a reaction it can be to posts regarding tragedies or sad events, such as the deaths of loved ones or the refugee crisis.

Users want to show support, but pressing Like on such a post is obviously inappropriate.

Since Zuckerberg publicly said that more options were in the works, his official Facebook page has been flooded with thousands of comments about the dislike option: many have been pro-Dislike button, but others have said that it would lead to cyberbullying and negativity.

The Verge quoted this one:

Please don’t put a dislike button, as much as there is times I would love it, would much rather express my thoughts in words to be completely direct on my opinion.

While the emojis aren’t a dislike button, they will give users “the power to easily express sorrow and empathy, in addition to delight and warmth,” Zuckerberg said.

Keeping a Dislike button out of users’ hands won’t prevent bullying, by any means. Facebook, like many social media networks, has a long history of being used as a platform to torment people.

You don’t need a Dislike button to post vicious things about people in plain old text comments, after all.

Facebook has done commendable work to battle cyberbullying, including rolling out a Bullying Prevention Centre in the UK and Europe last year – a culmination of years of work by Facebook engineers and partners at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

Mark Zuckerberg’s network has proven itself to be a bit tone-deaf on some issues though, including its real-name policy.

It’s also, of course, had a spotty history when it comes to the occasional security and privacy glitch.

But overall, Naked Security gives Facebook the thumbs-down far less often than we once did.

As Naked Security’s Paul Ducklin pointed out recently, we have good cause:

Security and privacy seem to be a much bigger deal at Facebook these days; there are clear and extensive guidelines for App Reviews; and the company not only made HTTPS the default, but subsequently got rid of HTTP.

Of course, many of our readers would rather douse their keyboards with glue than ever log in to a Facebook account and risk whatever privacy incursions or utter waste of time would possibly occur therein.

But for the rest of us, keeping Facebook thumbs-down-free is, in my opinion, a welcome way to at least try to keep the bullying at bay and the positivity up.

For that, I’m giving the company a thumbs-up.

If you want to emoji your own thoughts on the matter in the comments section below, go right ahead: we always ❤ to get your take.

October 1, 2015

Disruptive Innovations in Health Care Technology in 2015


We are seeing amazing advancements in healthcare technology, everything from enterprise cloud software to nanobots.  Is healthcare finally catching up with the times?

New startups and fortune 500 companies alike, are in a modern-day health care gold rush, with everyone trying to stake their claim.  What are your thoughts on promising healthcare technologies coming out this year and in the future?

healthcare technology 2015To those that embrace the future, here are the leading health care technologies to look forward to.

1.     Nanobots in Blood

Although nanobots are far from being utilized today, but the future is coming where these tiny robots can function like our own white blood cells and destroy bacteria and other pathogens.

Nanorobots

These miniature robots would function like their full-size equivalents with their own sensors, and propulsion systems and could perform small tasks like delivering chemotherapy 1000 times more powerful than using drugs and would not cause as many side-effects to patients like the current treatments do.

Other specific types of nanobots that are being developed are Microbivore, Respirocyte, Clottocyte, and Cellular repair nanobots that can destroy bacteria, carry oxygen, create blood clots for wounds, and repair cells.

The future is closer than we think, I remember just yesterday playing the Atari 64 with a single joystick and thinking, “Wow this is amazing!”

2.     Head Transplants and Mind Transfer

Ever since the dawn of man, we have all wanted to live forever, and one day that may become reality with companies like Google and Brainpreservation.org looking for ways to extend life by curing disease,  preserving our brains in stasis, or saving them on computers or another brain.

Brain Preservation

While it may seem strange for a tech company like Google to join up and fight the healthcare battle, it makes sense that their CEO Larry Page may want to improve his life and other’s around him and so they can solve life’s other tough challenges in the years to come.

Google fights death

How will this be accomplished…

Currently there are three methods cryopreservation, chemopreservation, and a hybrid approach that uses a blend of both methods.

brain storage

A futuristic approach…

If Moore’s law holds, within a few decades, a supercomputer might be able to simulate a human brain at neural level at faster perceived speed than a biological brain. However, the exact date is difficult to estimate due to limited understanding of the required accuracy, and computational speed is not the only requirement for making full human brain simulation possible.

A full brain map has been estimated to occupy less than 2 x 1016 bytes (20,000 TB) and would store the addresses of the connected neurons, the synapse type and the synapse “weight” for each of the brains’ 1015 synapses.  However, the biological complexities of true brain function (e.g. the epigenetic states of neurons, protein components with multiple functional states, etc.) may preclude an accurate prediction of the volume of binary data required to faithfully represent a functioning human mind.

Current research

Copying one’s  human brain to a computer or host may still be many decades away due to the massive amounts of nerve cells called neurons, 85 Billion to be exact and the complexity of mapping each connection, but that is not stopping current researchers from mapping the  C. Elegans roundworm.

This worm was the first organism to have its genome sequenced, and the first to have its entire brain mapped. It is largely hermaphrodite, with 959 cells each of which has also been mapped. Its network of 302 neurons connect via 6393 synapses – its connectome – and link to the worm’s 95 muscles at 1410 junctions.

Independent researcher Tim Busbice has already created a digital copy of the worm’s brain with the data from the Openworm project and created an avatar to host the animal with wheels for muscles.

Another doctor by the name of Dr. Sergio Canavero believes that it’s now possible to slice the head of off one person, stitch it to the decapitated body of another, and then reanimate the two-human mash-up. What’s more, he says the first head transplant operation could come in two years, New Scientist reported.

3.     The Hospital Experience

We all know that visiting a hospital is no thrilling experience, but companies like NXT Health are looking change the way we experience treatment in our rooms.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/37038503?api=1&player_id=player_1

NXT Patient Room 2020 from NXT Health on Vimeo.

The goal with the modernized room design are to improve the interoperability of the systems in order to eliminate the wasteful redundancy and technological clutter that plague many modern healthcare facilities.

In order to facilitate changing technology and the dynamic needs of healthcare systems, the space features a pre-fabricated, modular system of interchangeable parts that allow adaptations to occur with a minimal impact on facility operations. Additionally, the technological touch points that are woven into the concept empower patients to have a sense of comfort and control during the medical experience by empowering them to connect with remote loved ones, collaborate with caregivers, and adjust various environmental features.

See the NHS, Stanford Hospital or Ottawa Hospital for practical examples. And companies such as the recently launched Calico from Google will make attempts at reaching these goals.

4.     Robotic “Flight Simulator” Surgery

Roswell Park Cancer Institute is quickly becoming one of the leaders in surgical training, thanks in large part to a creative collaboration between University at Buffalo’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and  RPCI’s Center for Robotic Surgery . Surgical procedures have always required years of training, and until recently most of that training is done in a live environment.

robotic surgery training

No sane person would climb aboard a commercial airliner if we knew the pilot was currently training on his or her first flight. We like to think of pilots as highly seasoned and experienced professionals. Many pilots first learn how to take the controls in realistic simulated environments, they learn how to fly without ever touching a flight control. We should treat surgery the same way, and we should expect that getting rid of the kinks has already taken place.

RoSS (Robotic Surgery Simulator) is changing the way surgeons hone their craft. Allowing real-world views of actual surgeries can give aspiring, practicing, or professional surgeons the chance to experiment and get it wrong in a simulated environment. More importantly, it gives these surgeons the tools they need to get it right when the time comes to perform surgeries when lives are at stake.

Although this specific tool has been around for a little while they are now being produced by Simulated Surgical Systems. Soon we may see productive alternatives to real-life surgical practice around the country.

5.     Holographic Images

Hospitals are a place to go when you’re sick to get treatment, but did you know that in the United States, more than 2 million people are affected by hospital-acquired infections every year, and 100,000 people die as a result. and it costs an estimated $20 billion to treat these infections.

One area that can help dramatically is the ability to input data without actually touching physical  devices such as keyboards, the mouse, etc.  I remember last time I went to the dentist they put their gloves on as standard procedure and checked my teeth, but as they reached for the keyboard to input their findings they touched the mouse and keyboard which had no disposable cover.  The main issue is that these input devices are swiped with a disinfectant cloth but are not cleaned properly.   Imagine how many germs from 100’s of patients are collecting in the crevices.

holographic input - keyboard

A holographic data input like a keyboard or mouse may help reduce the amount of infections people are exposed to.

Some people may say this does not feel natural and like the ability to physically touch keyboard keys or other inputs so a company out of Tokyo, HaptoMime, uses reflective surfaces to create a floating virtual screen that you can actually feel. The technology is in its infancy but may hold some promise.

If you are looking for a very simple virtual keyboard, you can already purchase one on Amazon.

Another example:

Another application for holographic imaging  is to provide physicians with a comprehensive view of the procedure details as seen in a short video below.

6.    Enterprise Cloud Business Intelligence Software

Building a new medical or dental  business today, or maintaining relationships from your current network of referring providers is hard enough, and it is even more so when almost 100 percent of the healthcare system still relies on referral pads as one of the main sources of outreach to find and educate their network of services available at their facility.

medical and dental marketing service

As it stands today, a provider that wishes to grow their network will hire staff or an outsourced marketing company. They then create a referral pad with questions specific to every specialty in their organization and go door to door trying to build relationships with other providers, in hopes that they generate an increase in referrals.

This is changing with applications like referralMD | Physician Referral Management Platform In the Cloud, that help providers create the referral letters digitally and allows the organization to promote themselves to millions of patients and other providers looking for treatment options.

Gone are the days of a Primary Care doctor calling a specialist and saying “Can you get in the car and deliver more forms so we can send you a referral” or having the PCP maintain 100’s of paper forms in their back office for every specialist they work with.

Why is this important?

The current method of using paper causes upwards of 50% of patient referrals to never result in a doctor’s visit.  This huge gap in care causes patient’s to lose treatment, the healthcare facility to lose money,  and increases the potential of malpractice lawsuits due to improper hand-offs and lack of audit trails.  Consider this the next time you use a referral pad.

7.    A Better Blood-Test Experience

No one likes needles, especially when you repeatedly have to get pricked by an inexperienced phlebotomist.   Great news!  Companies like Theranos have designed away to run tests with micro-samples of blood, 1/1,000th the size of a typical blood draw.  The benefits are a better patient experience, but also a cost reduction in lab fees, which can be substantial.

theranos blood testFor example:

One of the most common blood tests is the complete blood count (CBC) which assesses the cells in blood. It is not, as the name suggests, a test which completely tests everything in blood. It looks mainly at the three main types of cells in blood – red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

  • CPT code: 85025
  • Medicare Price: $10.69, Theranos price: $5.35

8.    Mitochondrial DNA Transfer

Alternatively known as a “three parent baby” this process helps eliminate a variety of potentially fatal diseases like heart and liver failure, and deafness. Although many ethical and moral questions surround the recent U.K. approval of this process, the potential implications for future generations is boundless.

Mitochondrial DNA Transfer

Mitochondrial DNA Transfer is when two parents contribute normally to an in vitro fertilization and a third-party contributes the mitochondrial DNA. The first two successful transplants of mitochondrial DNA occurred in the late 90’s as a result of fertility experimentation for previously unsuccessful couples.

The reason this makes the list for 2015 is that these procedures are becoming recognized for the potential that they may deliver. The reduction of gene related diseases may mean longer lifespans, improved health, and even the elimination of certain diseases. This process may also enable couples to conceive children who without it would never have the possibility. As these procedures are perfected and the science becomes more transparent the usefulness of this technology only grows exponentially.

The moral and ethical implications may lead to a platitude of arguments in the future, like whether or not designer babies will become a normal wealthy indulgence. Because these arguments exist, the rest of the world may experience a delay in acceptance of procedures like these; however, the potential benefits are likely to greatly outweigh the few extravagant outliers that always seem to expose themselves.

9.    Stem-cell Reconstructive and Plastic Surgery

Stem-cells seem to have fallen from the spotlight in recent years, a few fraudulent claims and a variety of government hurdles has dampened these research fields in the United States. Finally some approved practical applications have started to surface in a variety of different fields.

stem cells

Recently Dr. Rey has been spotted claiming that the majority of his breast augmentation surgeries are now performed by injecting stem-cell enhanced fat into procedure areas. The use of stem-cells for a variety of augmentations is starting to replace lipo-filling, which is the practice of removing full fat cells from one part of the body and transplanting them to another.  This type of procedure can be used to help fix facial deformities, recover tissue lost due to cancer, and a wide variety of other necessary plastic surgeries.

Many scam based claims have been made by less than reputable service providers that stem cells can have glorious results for somewhat common procedures. Unlike those claims, using stem-cell augmented fat cells has been proven. In a study performed by Copenhagen University stem-cell enhanced fat cells retained 81% of initial volume through four months, in comparison with only 16% mass retention when lipo-filling alone is used.

The exciting part about this advancement is that stem-cell enhanced fat cells can be used in so many different environments, and the accepted uses of this technology will only grow as more benefits are uncovered. Replacing invasive surgeries with something much less complicated reduces recovery times and lessens the likelihood of mistakes and unforeseen complications.

10.    Augmenting Human Capabilities

Perhaps the most visually impressive display of healthcare technology innovation is the video of Les Baugh controlling prosthetic arms with his mind alone.

Augmenting human capabilities

Through extensive research on the way Les’ mind controlled his limbs, researchers were able to determine how mind managed these connections. With that research they were able to develop a technology that would read his brain activity and send the signals to sockets that controlled the motor functions of his prosthetic limbs.

An exciting technology spearheaded by an exciting pioneer, Mike Mclaughlin likens the current stage of this technology as the beginning of the internet. Funded by DARPA, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory is being tasked with creating naturally controlled artificial limbs – which we can see is already becoming a reality.

The reality of this science is that all of our lives will be changed, weather we know it now or not; just like the beginning of the internet when no one believed it would be useful, this will change the course of history.

Images courtesy of: www.voxns.com, urbantimes.co, io9.com,www.voxns.com, urbantimes.co, io9.com, howstuffworks.com, askmen.com