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Twitter can help predict emergency hospital visits

Written By kom nampultig on Kamis, 16 April 2015 | 21.43

NEW YORK: Twitter can help several hospitals plan better in terms of tackling patient rush and availability of resources and staff, suggests a study.

The researchers said personal health-related tweets posted by some users could be helpful for hospitals.

"You can get a lot of interesting insights from social media that you can't from electronic health records," said lead author professor Sudha Ram from the University of Arizona.

"You only go to the doctor once in a while, and you don't always tell your doctor how much you've been exercising or what you've been eating."

"But people share that information all the time on social media. We think that prediction models like this can be very useful, if we can combine various types of data, to address chronic diseases," she explained.

The researchers looked specifically at the chronic condition of asthma and how asthma-related tweets, analyzed alongside other data, can help predict asthma-related emergency room visits.

Ram and colleagues created a model that was able to successfully predict approximately how many asthma sufferers would visit the emergency room at a large hospital in Dallas on a given day, based on an analysis of data gleaned from electronic medical records, air quality sensors and Twitter.

"We realized that asthma is one of the biggest traffic generators in the emergency department," Ram said.

"Often what happens is that there are not the right people in the ED to treat these patients, or not the right equipment, and that causes a lot of unforeseen problems," she added.

The researchers found that as certain air quality measures worsened, asthma visits to the emergency room went up. Asthma visits also increased as the number of asthma-related tweets went up.

The findings are scheduled to be published in the Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics.

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Jawbone UP4 fitness tracker integrates your credit card too

SAN FRANCISCO: On one hand, or wrist, there may be an eye-catching Apple Watch, while the other will sport with more discreet jewelry packed with internet Age smarts.

Jawbone had that vision of the wearable computing trend in mind when it ramped its UP family of lifestyle-tracking bands and teased a coming model that enables American Express users to tap and pay at shop checkout counters.

"People often wear a watch at the same time they are wearing bracelets," Jawbone vice president of product management and strategy Travis Bogard told AFP at the company's San Francisco headquarters.

"We can now put technology into those situations in a way that doesn't disrupt how you would wear it. Then you can collect that information and do interesting things with it."

A UP3 bracelet that tracks heart rate along with activity and sleep is shipping after a delayed release while technicians improved water resistance.

Jawbone introduced another new UP band with an overhauled design and almost half the mass of its predecessor.

Bogard showed off a coming flagship UP4 model with sensors capable of measuring heart rate and other biometrics, and which could be used at checkouts that have American Express contactless payment systems.

"We have created a seamless payment experience all in the tap of a wrist," said Leslie Berland, executive vice president of digital partnerships and development at American Express.

UP4 will be priced at $199 when it is released in the middle of this year, according to Bogard. The lowest priced UP model is $49.

Bogard was undaunted by the pending arrival next week of Apple Watch, which unofficial estimates indicate has about a million pre-orders and could ignite the smar watch market.

"Those are really daytime wear," he said of smartwatches.

UP bands are designed to be jewelry that "disappears on the body" while being worn all day every day, using sensors to track activity, sleep and more.

The bands synch to smartphones and feed what they learn to the Internet cloud, where "smart coach" software provides personalized advice for healthier lifestyles.

Jawbone has focused on creating a platform that can synch to applications tailored for an array of smartwatches from major players including Apple, Huawei, Asus, LG and Motorola.

Data gathered by wearable computing devices can be used by "smart coach" to coax or nudge users toward lifestyle goals from losing weight to drinking more water or getting to sleep earlier.

"Data is good, understanding is better," Bogard said.

While Jawbone believes people will want UP hardware, it has made the platform open so developers can synch devices, applications or services to the system.

"One thing that differentiates tech companies from competitors is being a platform," Gartner analyst Brian Blau told AFP.

"That is something of a Holy Grail. Getting to that point and kick-starting an ecosystem is really lucrative, and could be for Jawbone."

Having services, applications, smartwatches and more tuned to its platform diversifies opportunities for Jawbone to make money.

Gartner has found that while people have been showing interest in wearable computing, it hasn't translated into massive mainstream purchasing.

"I think that the Apple Watch is going to pique people's interest and they will pay more attention to wrist wearables," Blau said.

The analyst doubted there would be a quick shift to people using watches, bracelets or other wearable computers as wallets since it is already easy enough to use credit cards for purchases.

Overall, it remains early days for wearable computing with innovations on the horizon including virtual or augmented reality head gear and sensors or chips embedded in clothing fabric, according to the analyst.

"The wearables industry is only just getting started," Blau said.

"The conundrum the wearables industry is in today is which will stand out as the next platform or the next spot on the body where people will wear things."

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Apple expands environmental efforts with 2 new projects

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA: Apple is expanding its environmental efforts by investing in a new Chinese solar power project and preserving 36,000 acres of "sustainable" timberland in Maine and North Carolina.

The initiatives come as the tech giant this year met a self-imposed goal of powering all its US operations with renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions -- initiatives that have won high marks from environmental groups like Greenpeace.

On Thursday, Apple announced a new focus on using paper from trees harvested under environmentally sound conditions. It's also promising to use more renewable power overseas, where Apple relies heavily on contract manufacturers -- and where a top executive acknowledged the company can do more.

"It's important to us to tackle climate change everywhere we are," Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president for environmental initiatives, told The Associated Press. "When you talk about China, you're talking about manufacturing partners. We're looking to bring the same innovation there. This is the start."

The new solar project in China has a capacity of 40 megawatts, which is smaller than some projects Apple has announced in the United States. By comparison, Apple is spending $850 million for rights to nearly half the output of a 280-megawatt solar facility planned for construction south of Apple's Cupertino, California, headquarters. That project will produce enough energy to power all of Apple's California offices, a computer center and 52 retail stores.

Still, the Chinese project will produce more than the amount of energy consumed by Apple's 19 corporate offices and 21 retail stores in China and Hong Kong, Jackson said. She added that Apple uses renewable energy for 87% of the power at its facilities worldwide.

That figure, however, doesn't include substantial power consumption by contract manufacturers. With the new project in China, Apple is looking to improve its own operations first.

"Before we go somewhere else and start asking and eventually requiring clean energy, you want to make sure you show folks how to do it," said Jackson, who was US Environmental Protection Agency administrator during president Barack Obama's first term.

Jackson declined to say how much Apple is investing in the plant, which is being built in partnership with US energy company SunPower and four Chinese firms. Although China is known for heavy reliance on coal, its government has set aggressive goals for solar, wind and hydroelectric power.

Meanwhile, Apple pledged an unspecified amount of money for a Virginia-based nonprofit, the Conservation Fund, to purchase two large tracts of timberland on the East Coast. The Conservation Fund will resell the land to commercial interests under legally binding terms that require future owners to preserve the forest and follow environmentally sound principles for cutting and replanting trees.

Larry Selzer, the group's chief executive, said that will protect the forest while keeping it in the hands of private owners who pay taxes and create jobs. Selzer said he'll use proceeds from reselling the land to buy and protect additional tracts.

Apple won't necessarily buy paper made from trees on that land, but Jackson said the investment will increase the supply of sustainable wood fiber. She said the two tracts would produce about half the non-recycled wood fiber used in Apple's product packaging last year.

That would put Apple halfway toward its goal of obtaining all its non-recycled paper products from sustainable timber. Apple wouldn't say how much paper it uses, but it says two-thirds of its paper packaging comes from recycled material. In the last three months of 2014, Apple sold more than 100 million iPhones and other gadgets, most in cardboard boxes.

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to receive Champion of Change award from Obama

WASHINGTON: US president Barack Obama plans to honour Microsoft's Indian-origin CEO Satya Nadella with the Champions of Change award for bringing about change within his company to support working families.

"Microsoft recently announced that over the next year it will make changes to ensure that a wide variety of suppliers that do business with Microsoft in the US provide at least 15 days of paid leave each year to employees who handle Microsoft work," the White House said as it announced the names of recipients of the Champions of Change Award.

Before being named CEO in February 2014, 47-year-old Nadella held leadership roles in both enterprise and consumer businesses across the company.

Joining Microsoft in 1992, he quickly became known as a leader who could span a breadth of technologies and businesses to transform some of Microsoft's biggest product offerings.

Originally from Hyderabad, he earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Mangalore University, a master's degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Chicago.


Champions of Change award is given to those who support working families and have helped to bring about change within their companies, communities or organizations by advocating for commonsense paid sick and paid leave policies, equal pay and an end to pregnancy discrimination to support families, businesses, and economy.

According to the White House, the president remains focused on middle-class economics -- adhering to the simple idea that economy works best when it's working for everyone.

Republicans in Congress continue to take a different approach, offering huge tax giveaways to the wealthy and well-connected at the expense of the middle class, it alleged.

Earlier this week, the White House released a Middle Class Tax report highlighting his budget proposals to help those 44 million middle-class Americans.

The 'Champions of Change' programme was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.

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Lava launches Iris X1 Atom

NEW DELHI: Lava has expanded its Iris series with another entry level smartphone — Iris X1 Atom— priced at Rs 4,444. The smartphone will compete with Motorola Moto E, Samsung Galaxy Star Advance, Micromax Unite 2 and Microsoft Lumia 435.

Iris X1 Atom runs on Android KitKat 4.4 (with an update for Android Lollipop guaranteed) and features a 4-inch (480x800p) WVGA display. Powered by 1.2 GHz quad core processor, the phone comes with 512MB RAM, and has 4GB of internal storage. For more storage, users can install microSD cards up to 32GB.

Iris X1 Atom sports a 5MP primary camera with LED flash and VGA secondary camera and packs a 1750mAh battery. For connectivity, the smartphone offers 3G, GPRS/EDGE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v2.1 and a micro-USB slot.

Lava's new smartphone will be available in white-silver, black-silver and black-gold colours and can be bought from various e-commerce portals as well as retail stores across the country beginning next week.

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Apple bans selfie sticks at WWDC 2015

Written By kom nampultig on Rabu, 15 April 2015 | 21.43

NEW YORK: No selfie sticks would be allowed at the Worldwide Developers Conference 2015, Apple announced in the new rules for the event.

The attendees wouldn't be allowed to use selfie sticks or any other kind of photo monopod within the bounds of either Moscone West or Yerba Buena Gardens.

Though photography using phones or compact cameras is permitted, developers have already been barred from making audio or video recordings of WWDC events, or using professional photo equipment.

During events like the opening keynote, selfie sticks could potentially give attendees un-obstructed shots of the stage, but might also block the views of other audience members and Apple's own camera crews.

"You are not permitted to make audio or audiovisual recordings of WWDC or take professional photographic or video equipment, or wearable recording devices into Moscone West or Yerba Buena Gardens," Apple's information page announced.

"In addition, you may not use selfie sticks or similar monopods within Moscone West or Yerba Buena Gardens," it read.

A number of other major events have already banned selfie sticks over concerns about them obstructing the views of other people.

WWDC 2015 is scheduled from June 8-12 in San Francisco. Apple is expected to showcase iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 at the event.

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Cleartrip backs net neutrality, exits Facebook’s Internet.org

NEW DELHI: A day after Flipkart cleared its stance on net neutrality by stepping away from the controversial Airtel Zero plan, travel website Cleartrip has also backed the neutral net by exiting Facebook's Internet.org programme.

Join the Times campaign for a neutral internet here

In response of Net Neutrality India's questions on why it was violating net neutrality principles by being part of Internet.org initiative, Cleartrip said posted the following on its blog:

"A few weeks back, Facebook reached out and asked us to participate in the Internet.org initiative with the intention of helping us deliver one of our most affordable products to the more underserved parts of the country. There was no revenue arrangement between us and Internet.org or any of its participants — we were neither paid anything, nor did we pay anything to participate. Additionally we don't make any money out of that product. Since there was absolutely zero money changing hands, we genuinely believed we were contributing to a social cause.

But the recent debate around #NetNeutrality gave us pause to rethink our approach to Internet.org and the idea of large corporations getting involved with picking and choosing who gets access to what and how fast. What started off with providing a simple search service has us now concerned with influencing customer decision-making by forcing options on them, something that is against our core DNA.

So while our original intent was noble, it is impossible to pretend there is no conflict of interest (both real and perceived) in our decision to be a participant in Internet.org. In light of this, Cleartrip has withdrawn our association with and participation in Internet.org entirely.

We believe that the Internet is a great leveller and that freedom of the Internet is critical for innovation. Cleartrip is and always will be a fully committed supporter of #NetNeutrality."

READ ALSO: Complete coverage on net neutrality

Internet.org is Facebook's initiative to bring internet services to areas that are still not connected to the web. In India, the programme was launched in India in February 2015, wherein Reliance Communication will provide free internet to the subscribers.

READ ALSO: What is net neutrality and why it is important?

However, the programme is a little against the principles of net neutrality, which entail that all websites and apps should get the user accessibility and bandwidth. For example, Internet.org only allows users to search queries only via Microsoft's Bing, but not Google or other search engines.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, however, has said that net neutrality can co-exist with Internet.org.

Watch AIB video on net neutrality

A neutral internet is one of the hottest topics in India as netizens are slamming the net neutrality violating Airtel Zero plan left, right and centre. This plan requires companies to pay extra to Airtel in order to get their websites and apps to load faster.

READ ALSO: Airtel may withdraw Zero plan, analysts say

Despite signing up for the programme initially, Flipkart yesterday distanced itself from Airtel Zero.

Trai has uploaded a consultation paper on its website so that users can give their views on net neutrality to the regulatory body by April 23. Users can log on to www.savetheinternet.in to answer the questions and send a mail to Trai in just two clicks.

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iBerry launches Auxus Beast at Rs 13,990

NEW DELHI: IBerry has launched a new mid-range smartphone — Auxus Beast — priced at Rs 13,990. The smartphone will compete against the likes of Moto G (second generation), Gionee Elife S5.1, Samsung Galaxy Grand 2, and Micromax Canvas Selfie.

The dual-sim smartphone runs on Android Lollipop 5.0 and features a 5.5-inch HD (720x1280p) IPS display. Powered by 1.7GHz 64-bit Octacore processor, the phone comes with 3GB RAM, and also offers 16GB of internal storage. Users who want more storage space can install microSD cards of up to 128GB.

iBerry Auxus Beast sports a 13MP primary camera with LED flash and an 8MP secondary camera and packs a 3050mAh battery. For connectivity, the smartphone offers 3G, GPRS/EDGE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a micro-USB slot.

Auxus Beast is available only in black colour but users have more choice as swappable back panels for the phone are available in red, blue, and white.

The smartphone will be available exclusively on Snapdeal from April 20, and on that day, iBerry will also be giving away freebies worth Rs 3,000 like WiCam Controller, screen guards, and silicon cases.

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7 best smartphones launched in India recently

Xiaomi Redmi 2, the 4G-capable successor of Redmi 1S, was launched in India in March at Rs 6,999.

While Redmi 2 shares a few features with its predecessor, it has a few upgrades apart from the 4G-compatibility. The new model is powered by the 64-bit 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor, while Redmi 1S comes with the 1.6GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 chipset.

The front camera gets a resolution bump, from 1.6MP in Redmi 1S to 2MP in Redmi 2. The battery is also slightly beefier at 2,200mAh in the new smartphone, up from 2,000mAh of Redmi 1S. Xiaomi's Redmi 2 smartphone also supports QuickCharge 1.0 technology for faster battery charging.

Xiaomi will be preloading the Android 4.4-based MIUI 6.0 software with Redmi 2, while the Redmi 1S runs on the Android 4.3-based MIUI 5.0 custom skin. The new model is thinner (9.2mm) and lighter (134gram) than its predecessor (9.9mm and 158gram).

The remaining features of Redmi 2 are same as that of its older sibling, including the 4.7-inch HD screen with DragonTrail glass, 8GB internal storage, up to 32GB microSD card support, 1GB RAM and connectivity options.

(Buy now @ Amazon.in)

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Smartphone device to help diagnose cancer

A new device that can be added to a smartphone may be able to accurately and cheaply diagnose cancer, a technology which could be useful in remote areas, US researchers said.

Known as D3, the add-on is designed to be used by medical experts, not the general public, and so far appears as accurate as more involved and costly tests in current use, but at a price of a mere $1.80 per patient.

The research is described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal.

"We believe the platform we have developed provides essential features at an extraordinary low cost," said co-author Cesar Castro, a doctor at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Center for Systems Biology.

D3 stands for digital diffraction diagnosis, and the system "features an imaging module with a battery-powered LED light clipped onto a standard smartphone that records high-resolution imaging data with its camera," said the study.

"With a much greater field of view than traditional microscopy, the D3 system is capable of recording data on more than 100,000 cells from a blood or tissue sample in a single image."

The process involves adding microbeads to a sample of blood or tissue. The microbeads bind to known cancer-related molecules. The sample is then loaded into the D3 imaging module.

That data can be quickly sent via a secure, encrypted cloud service to a processing server.

Then, the presence of specific molecules, which show if cancer is present, can be detected by analyzing the diffraction patterns generated by the microbeads, the study said.

Results can be returned to the doctor in minutes or hours, rather than days or weeks.

A pilot test of the system using cervical biopsy samples from 25 women who had abnormal Pap smears showed a level of accuracy that matched the current industry standard for diagnostic testing, the study said.

Another test using the D3 to analyze fine-needle lymph node biopsy samples "was accurately able to differentiate four patients whose lymphoma diagnosis was confirmed by conventional pathology from another four with benign lymph node enlargement," said the findings.

More research is needed on a larger number of cancers to verify the preliminary findings of the new device.

But researcher Ralph Weissleder, director of the MGH Center for Systems Biology, said he expects the device will break down many of the barriers that exist in cancer diagnosis, particularly in remote or impoverished areas.

"By taking advantage of the increased penetration of mobile phone technology worldwide, the system should allow the prompt triaging of suspicious or high-risk cases that could help to offset delays caused by limited pathology services in those regions and reduce the need for patients to return for follow-up care, which is often challenging for them."

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