The Wonder, March 4 - A transit app, a clinical trial bot, smart cities, and a different sleep monitor

INblog, technology, the wonder|BYsf appworks

A Weekly Snapshot of Life-Changing Technology

1. One stop shop

Berlin becomes the first major European capital to get a transport app that handles billing and login for public transport, rental bikes, car-sharing, and taxis.

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Hot Take
Cities have a chance to greatly improve infrastructure while better understanding their citizens actions by investing in high quality, full solution apps..

The hard part
The system only works if all the players integrate. Uber is not yet on board. Cities who see the benefits should legislate or incentivize with tax credits.

The Opportunity
App fatigue is real and it’s hard to remember everything that you download. Salesforce built its business by creating a data-central hub that integrates with third party platforms. Perhaps there’s room for that approach in the app industry.

2. Quick question

A clinical trial bot created at a hackathon held by Microsoft lets patients and doctors search for studies related to a disease, then matches them to trails that fit their needs.

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Hot Take
Chatbots were all the rage in 2017, but they failed to deliver on marketers’ dreams as customers grew frustrated when the conversations broke down. However, chatbots as a form of natural language search still offer a lot of promise. Bots are great for breaking down complex queries into specific lines of search. Using those queries to identify compatible, but hard to match patients and clinical trials is a clever twist in an oft told story..

Remember when…
I’ll never forget reading a few years back that, in a study on Search, Microsoft researchers found that they could reverse engineer the search queries of terminally ill patients and ‘diagnose’ them up to three months earlier than the point at which those patients sought treatment. It was an ‘aha’ moment in the predictive health field.

Pro tip for product people
We integrated the Microsoft Q&A bot on a running application we built – the SportMe Marathon Trainer. The platform is easy to set up and train. If you are interested in creating a dynamic FAQ for your digital product, it’s a good place to start.

3. The future is calling

Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet’s Smart City initiative, shared a few ideas that it is exploring for its urban development project in Toronto.

  • Heated and lighted sidewalks
  • Building raincoats
  • Computer-vision traffic sensors

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Hot Take
The next infrastructure bill could do a lot to revitalize cities that have seen their primary industries dry up by including Smart City initiatives. These initiatives could attract developers and tourists alike as curious people will want to build and see the cities of the future.

4. Sleep different

Apple is testing a sleep monitor for future versions of the Apple Watch.

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Hot Take
Now that sales of the iPhone are slowing for the first time since it launched, Apple is stepping up efforts to improve its wearable product line, which generates barely a tenth of the revenue that iPhone sales generate..

Why it matters
Sleep disorders are often early indicators of mental health disorders. If Apple is serious about becoming a leading in Health Tech, it can’t ignore sleep patterns.

The Hard Part
Tracking sleep is not hard – many fitness trackers do it. But the Apple Watch devours battery power and most users have to charge every night while they sleep. Apple Watch batteries will need to either last longer or charge faster.

5. Fun read

Why does a grape turn into a fireball in the microwave?

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

– Your friends at SF AppWorks