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Daniel K. Henry

Daniel K. Henry

Amazon Echo. FitBit. Even your coffee pot.

While you might be thinking “one of these things is not like the other,” they are all examples of the Internet of Things (IoT).

They are all everyday objects that can be connected to the internet and be recognized by other devices and contribute info to a database. The Internet of Things describes Internet V.2, where data is created by things.

Kevin Ashton, digital innovation expert who is credited with coining the term, defines the Internet of Things in this quote:

“If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us—we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best.”

Now that the Internet of Things has made the physical world one enormous information system, how will the Internet of Things impact business in 2017?

It’s only the beginning for the Internet of Things

While some would argue IoT got off to a rocky start with a lower adoption rate than was predicted, most would agree the IoT is growing and will continue to grow in 2017 and beyond. Whether it reaches the lofty predictions of 50 billion connected devices by 2020 remains to be seen, but I strongly believe that businesses who learn to harness the data created by the Internet of Things are the ones who will survive and thrive in the future.

There are several new products and innovations now available due to the Internet of Things.

Smarter homes

There was certainly tremendous adoption of smart home technologies in 2016; experts believe Amazon sold nine times more Echos for the 2016 holiday season than the year before. Expect smart home technologies to become even more important in 2017. Seventy percent of people who purchased their first smart home device believe they are more likely to purchase more, according to a Smart Home Technology Survey.

Shutterstock

Wearable technology

There were 78.1 million wearables sold in 2015 and the market is expected to grow to 411 million by 2020. All wearable technology, which includes smart watches, fitness trackers, VR headsets and more, generates a ton of data that businesses are just beginning to understand the possibilities and potential applications for.

Smart cars

It is estimated that a staggering 82 percent of cars will be connected to the internet by 2021. App integration, navigation and diagnostic tools, and even self-driving cars will be ways the Internet of Things transforms the automobile industry. The auto industry is investing heavily to determine the next IofT innovation.

Transform the way we do business

We just scratched the surface for ways the IoT will offer new products and possibilities for consumers, but it will also impact the way we do business. Here are just few ways:

  • Inventory management: Anyone who has spent a work day or week counting widgets will appreciate the beauty of the IoT for inventory management. Smart devices will ultimately be able to track inventory automatically.
  • Consumer demands: Consumers will get used to smart devices and begin to expect “smart” behavior in all aspects of their lives. Inventors will have a field day coming up with new gadgets, furniture, appliances and more that meet this new demand and offer a new source of revenue for businesses.
  • Shorter buying cycle: Businesses will need to come to terms with a shorter buying cycle and consumer expectations for immediate gratification that the IoT supports.
  • Learn from the data: The volumes of data generated from smart devices help businesses learn how and what to innovate for the biggest impact.
  • Remote work: As IoT becomes more integrated, additional remote working opportunities will be available for tasks that used to require staff to be on-site to complete.

There’s no doubt, the Internet of Things is just getting started. Businesses who start now to develop or expand IoT technology in their products, services and operations are the ones who will realize a competitive advantage.

Of course, as with most new innovations, IoT comes with a drawback; at the moment, most IoT devices are not secured, making them an easy target for hackers. Last year, millions of IoT devices were hacked and used to take down some of the underlying infrastructure of the internet. Going forward, IoT manufacturers would do well to pay more attention to security, and users should take every precaution to secure their devices.

Bernard Marr is a best-selling author & keynote speaker on business, technology and big data. His new book is Data Strategy. To read his future posts simply join his network here.

Source : forbes.com

Apple rolled out the new iOS 10.3 update Monday — and if you took the plunge and upgraded to the new OS, you might have noticed your iPhone is running a bit more quickly and smoothly than it did before.

That alone shouldn't be a big surprise. New software should make your phone hum, and this update in particular includes a fancy new modern file system that has played a part in freeing up more storage space on devices than the previous OS.

But that's not the only reason your iPhone now has some extra pep, according to Apple engineer Renaud Lienhart. He took to Twitter to reveal one of the undocumented tweaks to the OS.

iOS 10.3 feels “snappier” because many animations were slightly tweaked & shortened, for the better.
— Renaud Lienhart (@NotoriousBUGS) March 28, 2017

The animations he's talking about come when you open, close or switch between apps, as BGR notes. This doesn't mean the apps will be running faster when you use them — it has to do more with improved responsiveness, which I noticed right away while switching between open apps on the new OS. It's a small change, but it makes multitasking on the iPhone even more seamless than before.

You should update your device to iOS 10.3 for more than just the speed boost, too. It's always a good call to keep your phone's OS current, since updates usually fix issues and bugs, like the Safari ransom bug that 10.3 knocked out.

That, and you'll finally be able to track down pesky AirPods when they get lost and avoid dropping a $69 fee (not nice) for a replacement.

Author: Brett Williams
Source : Mashable Tech
 
Thursday, 06 April 2017 01:48

The 100 Websites That Rule the Internet

There are over 1.1 billion websites on the internet, but the vast majority of all traffic actually goes to a very select list of them. Google.com, for example, has an astounding 28 billion visits per month. The next closest is also a Google-owned property, Youtube.com, which brings in 20.5 billion visits.

Today’s infographic comes to us from Vodien, and it lists the 100 highest ranking websites in the U.S. by traffic, according to website analytics company Alexa.

The information is grouped by company – for example, you can see that Google controls four sites in the Top 100 (Google, Youtube, Blogger, and Google User Content), while Verizon owns the Huffington Post and AOL.com (they will also control Yahoo and Tumblr when that deal closes in Q2). The data is also sorted by industry, so sites in a similar category are grouped in the same color.

A STEEP DROPOFF

The dropoff from #1 to #100 is significant. Google.com has 28 billion visits, but a website like Citi.com (ranked #98) only has 53 million visits a month. That’s a 500x difference!

Meanwhile, a website like ours (Visualcapitalist.com) gets one million visits per month, and is ranked #33,000 in the United States – a 50x difference from Citi. Further down the trail – there are literally millions of tiny websites that get thousands or just hundreds of visits per month, and some that don’t get any love at all.

The whole distribution is quite fascinating, and it is clear that the spoils go overwhelmingly to the very top of the food chain. However, that also means that there is an entire world of millions of websites out there that almost no one (except Google’s crawler) has ever seen.

Source : visualcapitalist.com

If you’re waiting to buy a foldable Samsung phone this year, you might need to hold onto your wallet for a little while longer. Samsung Display’s principal engineer, Kim Tae-woong, says the company is currently focused on bezel-free displays. “Because the bezel-free display currently sells well, we still have enough time to develop foldable display,” said Tae-woong at a Display TechSalon event recently. Samsung now believes it will commercialize foldable phones in 2019, despite initially planning to unveil them as early as 2015 or 2016.

Bloomberg reported last year that Samsung was planning to release two phones with bendable displays in 2017, but it’s clear Samsung is still working on perfecting the technology, while reaping the rewards of its bezel-less investments. Samsung initially showed off a bezel-less OLED phone prototype in 2013, before unveiling the Galaxy Note Edge a year later. Samsung hasn’t unveiled a fully flexible phone concept yet, but we’ve seen patents and some display technology demonstrations from rivals. Analysts now believe Samsung will likely unveil a foldable phone once demand for its bezel-less displays slows down. 

Source : msn.com

A few weeks ago, security researchers found that “lazy” makers of routers and Internet of Things (IoT) devices have been reusing a few hardcoded security keys, rather than giving each device a unique key, thereby leaving them susceptible to en masse hijacking.

How did researchers find the 4,000 vulnerable embedded devices in question?

It turns out that they used Censys: a new, little-known search engine that tracks all the devices hooked up to the internet.

Censys was released in October by researchers from the University of Michigan, who describe it as a “community effort” that’s similar to an open-source project.

Computer scientists at the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana are helping to run it, and Google’s providing the infrastructure that powers the free search engine.

Censys collects data on hosts and websites through daily scans of the IPv4 address space – the internet protocol that routes most internet traffic today, despite the ongoing deployment of a successor protocol, IPv6.

The search engine uses two companion tools: an open-source network scanner, known as ZMap, that probes every computer online in mere minutes, and the application layer scanner ZGrab.

Censys maintains a database of how hosts and websites are configured.

Researchers can query the data through a search interface, report builder, and SQL engine.

Zakir Durumeric, the University of Michigan researcher who leads the Censys project and who invented ZMap, told MIT Technology Review that the team’s trying to catalog everything on the internet – warts and all:

We’re trying to maintain a complete database of everything on the internet.

According to Durumeric, ZMap can determine not only what machines are online at any given moment, but also whether they have security flaws that should be fixed before they get exploited.

It can find not only obvious software bugs but also more subtle issues, such as those caused by an IT administrator failing to properly implement a cryptography standard.

Durumeric says that the things that people attach to the internet are “absolutely astounding”:

We have found everything from ATM machines and bank safes to industrial control systems for power plants. It’s kind of scary.

Astounding, but not surprising to those who’ve been reading about the Internet of Things spreading far and wide and bringing with it all sorts of security issues, including:

Beyond the router fiasco, Censys was also used by the researchers who found a major security problem with security certificates on Dell PCs that the company acknowledged a few weeks ago.

More details about Censys are available in the team’s research paper.

If you’d like to give the search engine a try, the developers have made this tutorial.

Source : nakedsecurity.sophos.com

Got great video content that no one's seeing? Columnist Tony Edward provides a comprehensive guide to optimizing your YouTube presence.

YouTube is arguably the second largest search engine on the Web. It is the third most visited site on the Web, according to Alexa and SimilarWeb. Recent information released by Google has shown that more and more users are using YouTube as a search engine. Searches related to “how to” on YouTube are growing 70% year over year. It is also no secret that video content is more engaging than a page of text and can be much more informative. YouTube’s popularity and reach are also expanded by its inclusion in both Google Web and Video search.

YoUTube Videos in Google Web SearchYouTube Videos in Google Video Search

Google weeded out the video competition in Web search by predominantly displaying only video-rich snippets for YouTube videos back in 2014. Here is a graph outlining the percentage share of video-rich snippets in Google.

Wistia Video Snippet Share Google

Source: Wistia

Google also made a surprising update to Google Trends recently by including YouTube trending topics in the tool. This shows that YouTube search traffic is significant enough that Google needed to incorporate it to paint a better picture of trending topics and stories across the Web.

YouTube tending topics in Google trends

So it is very important to have a presence on YouTube to expand your marketing reach, build your brand and drive traffic back to your website. Not only can you rank in YouTube search, but also in Google’s Web and video search.

YouTube Search Result Page Overview

The YouTube search result page is very similar to Google’s SERP’s, with paid ads at the top and organic results below.

YouTube Search Result Page

Videos can also be ranked in the related video sections of specific video pages.

YouTube Video Rankings Related Videos

Esta A Presence On YouTubeblishing

Before creating a YouTube channel or videos, you must have a strategy! This strategy is, of course, heavily based upon a solid video content calendar that aligns with company goals. Once your strategy has been developed, you can launch a new channel or optimize an existing channel. Here are the steps you need to take to optimize your YouTube channel.

1. Channel Name, Branding & Vanity URL

It goes without saying that your YouTube channel should be well branded. Your channel name, icon, banner (aka “Art”) and vanity URL should reflect your brand. The channel icon and banner images should be high quality to avoid pixelation.

How to Optimize YouTube Channel

Example of a vanity URL: https://www.youtube.com/user/EliteSEMInc

YouTube recently changed its policy for claiming a vanity URL for your channel. You must now meet the following qualifications to claim a vanity URL:

  • 500 or more subscribers
  • Channel is at least 30 days old
  • Channel has uploaded a photo for the channel icon
  • Channel has uploaded channel art

A channel without a vanity URL will receive an unoptimized URL that is not user-friendly or memorable, so it’s very important to work toward getting a vanity URL. I recently created a YouTube channel for Elite SEM’s CEO Ben Kirshner. His channel does not yet qualify for the vanity URL, and here is what it looks like:

(See Google’s YouTube Help documentation for more details on vanity URL qualifications.)

2. Channel Keywords & Targeted Country

Placing the appropriate keywords in the channel keywords element can help your channel rank higher in YouTube search. Be sure to select keywords that are related to your business and that have search volume. Leverage the Google AdWords keyword planner tool for search volume data. Be sure to select the targeted country you want to rank in.

YouTube Channel Keywords

3. Associated Website

Leverage the associated website feature in your channel settings. Linking your website will help establish your brand authority in the YouTube search results.

YouTube Associated Website

4. Channel Description & Links

A big opportunity to improve the rankability of your channel is to place branded and keyword-targeted content in the description section of your YouTube channel. The more content the better. Be sure to also include links to your website and social profiles to help users easily navigate to your website.

YouTube Channel Description Optimization

5. Channel Homepage

For your YouTube channel homepage you should utilize the featured video feature. This will allow you to highlight a specific video that will automatically play when someone visits the channel homepage. This will help boost engagement and can help you highlight specific information about your business. You should also highlight video playlists on the homepage to help users discover the different video content that you have uploaded. The more video playlists the better.

YouTube Channel Homepage Optimization

6. Links To Your Channel

Place links to your YouTube channel on your website and in your social profiles and emails. This will help increase channel exposure, visits and authority.

YouTube Video Ranking Factors

Video ranking factors are pretty straightforward. You can go about boosting rank in much the same way you would optimize a Web page. Here is breakdown of the rank factors:

  • Meta Data. Video titles, descriptions and tags are the core ranking factors. Keyword insertion is very important in all three elements. Similar to Web page title optimization, you should place the primary keywords at the forefront of the video titles. Be sure to include links to your website and social profiles in video descriptions to help users easily navigate to your website.

YouTube video optimization meta data

  • Video Quality. HD videos will rank higher than low-quality videos. YouTube highlights HD videos in search results. HD is a user experience element. Poor quality videos will annoy users, and you will not only lose views and subscribers, you’ll also get dislikes.

YouTube Video Quality

  • Views, Likes, Shares & Links. YouTube video rankings are affected by the number of views, likes (thumbs up) on YouTube, social shares and inbound links. When a video is published on your channel, you should begin distribution to help gain views, likes, shares and links. Here are some ways to distribute your video content:
    • Share on all your social profiles
    • Include in email updates/newsletters to your customers
    • Embed on your website, use as a topic for a blog post, or place in an existing video section of your website
    • Share on social bookmarking sites like Reddit or StumbleUpon
    • If the video is relevant and significant enough, you can conduct outreach to targeted sites, blogs, etc., to gain exposure
    Here is an example of one of Elite SEM’s video link and social share metrics. As you can see, the video has a page authority of 49/100, which is pretty good.

YouTube Video Link and Social Metrics

  • Thumbnail Optimization & Annotations. Utilizing the custom thumbnail feature for videos and annotations can help increase video CTR, views and shares. For each video, you have the option to upload a custom thumbnail. The image should be high quality (640 x 360 pixels minimum, 16:9 aspect ratio), vibrant and eye-catching. Visually compelling imagery will help get your video more clicks and views.YouTube Video Thumbnail OptimizationAnnotations allow you to highlight text in a video. This text can be additional video notes, calls to action and links to other related videos. You can use this feature to ask users to like and share your video. YouTube recently expanded annotations by adding the Cards feature.

YouTube Video Annotation Optimization

  • Subtitles & Closed Captions. YouTube allows you to add closed captions for videos that have spoken-word content. This feature opens up your content to a larger audience, including deaf or hard of hearing viewers or those who speak languages besides the one spoken in your video. The captions are crawlable by the search engines! This takes your video to the next level from a ranking perspective. By enabling the closed captions feature, you will increase the video’s rankability. Note that the YouTube automatic captions feature is not perfect, and you will have to make corrections. You have the option to upload a closed caption file. More details here.

YouTube Closed Caption Feature

  • Branding. While branding your videos does not directly affect video rankings, it does help increase brand authority and engagement, which can lead to more subscribers, shares and views. Be sure to include a branded intro and outro to your videos. YouTube also offers a watermark feature that allows you to brand watermark all your videos.

YouTube Video Branding Watermark

At the end of the day, it is very important to have quality video content that adds value, solves a problem, engages and meets user needs. Great content will naturally get shared and get links, which will help increase rankings. Spend time working on your video content calendar, and employ the above optimizations to have a successful YouTube presence.

Author : Tony Edward

Source : Searchengineland.com

Think about all of the websites you visit every day. Now imagine if the likes of Time Warner, AT&T and Verizon collected all of your browsing history and sold it on to the highest bidder. That’s what will probably happen if Congress has its way.

This week, lawmakers voted to allow internet service providers to violate your privacy for their own profit. Not only have they voted to repeal a rule that protects your privacy, they are also trying to make it illegal for the Federal Communications Commission to enact other rules to protect your privacy online.

That this is not provoking greater outcry illustrates how much we’ve ceded any willingness to shape our technological future to for-profit companies and are allowing them to do it for us.

There are a lot of reasons to be worried about this. Because your internet service provider controls your connection to the internet, it is in a position to see everything you do on the internet. Unlike a search engine or social networking platform or news site, you can’t easily switch to a competitor. And there’s not a lot of competition in the market, either. If you have a choice between two high-speed providers in the US, consider yourself lucky.

What can telecom companies do with this newly granted power to spy on everything you’re doing? Of course they can sell your data to marketers – and the inevitable criminals and foreign governments who also line up to buy it. But they can do more creepy things as well.

They can snoop through your traffic and insert their own ads. They can deploy systems that remove encryption so they can better eavesdrop. They can redirect your searches to other sites. They can install surveillance software on your computers and phones. None of these are hypothetical.

They’re all things internet service providers have done before, and they are some of the reasons the FCC tried to protect your privacy in the first place. And now they’ll be able to do all of these things in secret, without your knowledge or consent. And, of course, governments worldwide will have access to these powers. And all of that data will be at risk of hacking, either by criminals and other governments.

Telecom companies have argued that other internet players already have these creepy powers – although they didn’t use the word “creepy” – so why should they not have them as well? It’s a valid point.

Surveillance is already the business model of the internet, and literally hundreds of companies spy on your internet activity against your interests and for their own profit.

Your e-mail provider already knows everything you write to your family, friends, and colleagues. Google already knows our hopes, fears, and interests, because that’s what we search for.

Your cellular provider already tracks your physical location at all times: it knows where you live, where you work, when you go to sleep at night, when you wake up in the morning, and – because everyone has a smartphone – who you spend time with and who you sleep with.

And some of the things these companies do with that power is no less creepy. Facebook has run experiments in manipulating your mood by changing what you see on your news feed. Uber used its ride data to identify one-night stands. Even Sony once installed spyware on customers’ computers to try and detect if they copied music files.

Aside from spying for profit, companies can spy for other purposes. Uber has already considered using data it collects to intimidate a journalist. Imagine what an internet service provider can do with the data it collects: against politicians, against the media, against rivals.

Of course the telecom companies want a piece of the surveillance capitalism pie. Despite dwindling revenuesincreasing use of ad blockers, and increases in clickfraud, violating our privacy is still a profitable business – especially if it’s done in secret.

The bigger question is: why do we allow for-profit corporations to create our technological future in ways that are optimized for their profits and anathema to our own interests?

When markets work well, different companies compete on price and features, and society collectively rewards better products by purchasing them. This mechanism fails if there is no competition, or if rival companies choose not to compete on a particular feature. It fails when customers are unable to switch to competitors. And it fails when what companies do remains secret.

Unlike service providers like Google and Facebook, telecom companies are infrastructure that requires government involvement and regulation. The practical impossibility of consumers learning the extent of surveillance by their internet service providers, combined with the difficulty of switching them, means that the decision about whether to be spied on should be with the consumer and not a telecom giant. That this new bill reverses that is both wrong and harmful.

Today, technology is changing the fabric of our society faster than at any other time in history. We have big questions that we need to tackle: not just privacy, but questions of freedom, fairness, and liberty. Algorithms are making decisions about policing, healthcare.

Driverless vehicles are making decisions about traffic and safety. Warfare is increasingly being fought remotely and autonomously. Censorship is on the rise globally. Propaganda is being promulgated more efficiently than ever. These problems won’t go away. If anything, the internet of things and the computerization of every aspect of our lives will make it worse.

In today’s political climate, it seems impossible that Congress would legislate these things to our benefit. Right now, regulatory agencies such as the FTC and FCC are our best hope to protect our privacy and security against rampant corporate power. That Congress has decided to reduce that power leaves us at enormous risk.

It’s too late to do anything about this bill – Trump will certainly sign it – but we need to be alert to future bills that reduce our privacy and security.

Bruce Schneier is a security technologist, and a fellow and lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He blogs at schneier.com.

Author : Bruce Schneier

Source : theguardian.com

Edward Boyden is a Hertz Foundation Fellow and recipient of the prestigious Hertz Foundation Grant for graduate study in the applications of the physical, biological and engineering sciences. A professor of Biological Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, Edward Boyden explains how humanity is only at its infancy in merging with machines. His work is leading him towards the development of a "brain co-processor", a device that interacts intimately with the brain to upload and download information to and from it, augmenting human capabilities in memory storage, decision making, and cognition. The first step, however, is understanding the brain on a much deeper level. With the support of the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation, Ed Boyden pursued a PhD in neurosciences from Stanford University.

The Hertz Foundation mission is to provide unique financial and fellowship support to the nation's most remarkable PhD students in the hard sciences. Hertz Fellowships are among the most prestigious in the world, and the foundation has invested over $200 million in Hertz Fellows since 1963 (present value) and supported over 1,100 brilliant and creative young scientists, who have gone on to become Nobel laureates, high-ranking military personnel, astronauts, inventors, Silicon Valley leaders, and tenured university professors. For more information, visit hertzfoundation.org.

Author : Edward Boyden

Source : bigthink.com

It happened in history class. Heraa Hashmi, a 19-year-old American Muslim student at the University of Colorado, was supposed to be discussing the Crusades with the man sitting next to her. Within a few minutes, however, he was crusading against Islam.

“Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims,” Hashmi’s classmate told her. What’s more, he complained, not enough Muslims were making a stand against terrorism.

Hashmi was perplexed by this analysis. Muslims are constantly denouncing atrocities that have been committed in the name of Islam. Yet many people seem to think Muslims don’t condemn terrorism enough. So Hashmi decided to put the notion to the test. Using Google spreadsheets, she made a “712-page list of Muslims condemning things with sources”, which she tweeted. The list includes everything from acts of domestic violence to 9/11.

“I wanted to show people how weak the argument [that Muslims don’t care about terrorism] is,” she explained.

Her stats struck a chord. Within 24 hours, Hashmi’s tweet had been retweeted 15,000 times. A couple of her followers volunteered to help her turn her spreadsheet into an interactive website and, within a week of the tweet, muslimscondemn.com was born. This was last November, but the website has grown considerably since then and, sadly, flickers into prominence whenever a new attack takes place.

Hashmi’s project isn’t just designed to prove that Muslims are constantly condemning terrorism; she made it to demonstrate how ridiculous it is that Muslims are constantly expected to offer apologies for terrorist acts. Muslims, notes Hashmi, are “held to a different standard than other minorities: 1.6 billion people are expected to apologise and condemn [terrorism] on behalf of a couple of dozen lunatics. It makes no sense.” After all, Hashmi, says, “I don’t view the KKK or the Westboro Baptist church or the Lord’s Resistance Army as accurate representations of Christianity. I know that they’re on the fringe. So it gets very frustrating having to defend myself and having to apologise on behalf of some crazy people.”

You can see that double standard at play in the aftermath of the London attacks. Khalid Masood, the London attacker, was born Adrian Elms in Dartford, Kent and is believed to have converted to Islam in prison. Have we heard Kent natives – hello Nigel Farage!– condemn the actions of the people born in their county? (“I hope my Kentish brothers and sisters will reach out to fellow Britons in solidarity to demonstrate that such hatred will not defeat the inherent bonhomie of the home counties?”) No, we haven’t, because that would be ridiculous. And yet Muslims have often been expected to apologise for the actions of someone on the very fringes of their community, and have done so.

Thanks to Hashmi, all these condemnations are now carefully recorded at muslimscondemn.com. So for anyone asking why more Muslims don’t denounce terrorism, you know where to go.

Author : Arwa Mahdawi

Source : theguardian.com

Doctor appointment booking platform Zocdoc is launching a new, smarter search feature to its offering on both mobile and desktop. Now, the ability to find and schedule doctor visits will become more personalized and approachable with Zocdoc’s Patient Powered Search engine, which employs machine learning and natural language processing to make the experience more conversational.

The idea is to take the onus off patients to know exactly what they are looking for, including proper terminology to accurately describe a condition. The Patient Powered Search engine can recognize more everyday human language, including vague searches like “hurt wrist” or misspelled medical conditions. It even has a limited emoji vocabulary.

“Millions of patients come to Zocdoc each month to find and book appointments with healthcare providers across more than 50 specialties … This is no small feat, considering the healthcare industry uses academic terminology and alphabetized lists of hard-to-spell specialties to categorize and deliver care,” the company wrote in a blog post. “At the same time, according to the CDC, nine in ten Americans struggle to understand jargon-filled health information. This disconnect between medical speak and patients’ own colloquial language – think ‘gyno’ not ‘obstetrician-gynecologist’ – can frustrate, intimidate or even deter patients in their searches. This is especially concerning at the critical moment when patients are motivated to seek care.”

Zocdoc developed the beta version of the Patient Powered Search based on data they have gathered over the past 10 years since launching, and built a machine-learning algorithm using existing medical literature gathered online. Using aggregated data in a method knows as semantic search technology, the search engine has learned natural human communication and mapped commonly used terms to the appropriate corresponding medical term, visit reason or procedure. It is then paired with string-matching technology to retrieve relevant results.

“Additionally, during our beta period, some of the most common searches were simply-put symptoms, conditions or even body parts, such as ‘stomach,’ ‘TMJ’ and ‘tonsil.’ which, thanks to our algorithm, now successfully map to gastroenterologists, prosthodontists and ENTs,” the company wrote. “We are also using machine learning to aggregate intent, and prioritize and re-rank search results based on patient behaviors so the most popular search selections will appear at the top. This allows us to continually learn what patients are looking for, and adjust results based on trends or new needs.”

Zocdoc’s original service, which is available on iOS and Android devices, is targeted at consumers. The app asks for a user’s zip code and insurance provider and then lists nearby doctors and their availability. Users can then select a time to complete the appointment booking. Since October 2012, Zocdoc has also offered a check-in feature so that patients can also send over a basic medical history before they arrive instead of filling out the medical history clipboard. But Zocdoc has been moving beyond appointment booking for a while. In 2015, the company announced it had raised $130 million to do just that.

In June 2014, ZocDoc launched a premium service that employers can offer their employees, called Zocdoc for Business. This was Zocdoc’s first offering for employers. Zocdoc for Business launched with a handful of customers, including Foursquare, Gilt, IAC, Jefferies, NASDAQ OMX, and Quirky.

“Patient-Powered Search lays an important foundation for the future – it gives Zocdoc, our patients, and our partners an unmatched advantage when it comes to healthcare search, discovery and booking,” the company wrote.  “And, most importantly, it furthers our core mission to give power to the patient – putting patients’ needs at the center of our product innovation to remove friction throughout their healthcare journey.”

Author : Heather Mack

Source : mobihealthnews.com

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