The Wonder, June 1 - Helping the Blind 'See', Machine Learning is Transforming Healthcare, and Avoiding the War of Words

INthe wonder, blog, technology|BYsf appworks

A Weekly Snapshot of Life-Changing Technology

Happy Friday!

And happy June! Summer vacation starts for many kids today. For those still planning a family vacation, many think Tuesday is the best day to book, but it’s actually Sunday.

This newsletter is an effort to highlight notable examples of like-minded people and organizations, inspired by new technology and eager to help people with it.

Helping the Blind 'See'

Researchers programmed a Microsoft HoloLens to spatially map out a room and provide audio cues guiding them towards or around objects. Participants completed common tasks up to eight times faster as a result.


Andrew’s Take: Augmented Reality has mostly remained in the novelty category, but if it crosses over into enabling the disabled, we could see mass adoption, particularly with a growing elderly population.     

Darius’s Take: This thing is really cool! I can’t wait to see the next iteration, where you can integrate with maps and also provide navigation as well as object recognition.

Machine Learning is Transforming Healthcare

Bessemer Venture Partners announced a new fund for startups applying machine learning to health. Areas of interest include digital diagnostics, workflow automation, predictive tools, and drug discovery.


Andrew’s Take: Last week we saw British PM Theresa May pledge to do more to use AI to fight cancer. This week we see a new seed fund for startups applying machine learning to health. Young entrepreneurs take note – there is a whole lot of opportunity to solve problems in this area. 

Darius’s Take: This is really starting to look like the next big thing. We’ll be paying more attention to it, and so are investors. Their first investment is a great use of new technology – reducing scan time (and thus radiation exposure) by 4X just by enhancing images with machine learning. Those are real and immediate benefits.

Avoiding the War of Words

A new machine learning system sets out to predict when a conversation might take a turn for the worse before it actually does.


Andrew’s Take: Practically, this could help curb cyber bullying and improve customer support. But what if it can eventually help people realize when they’ve unknowingly hurt somebody’s feelings, or ticked off a colleague in an email? Think of it as an EQ sidekick.  

Darius’s Take: It’s nice in theory, but if you look closer, the results weren’t great in terms of machine learning accuracy. Humans are still much better at this. Also, could this have a chilling effect on healthy debate? 

One Heads Up Thing

The E. coli outbreak in the US continues. Avoid romaine lettuce and wash your hands regularly.

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Thanks for reading! We’ll see you next week. 

-Andrew and Darius