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The Microwork Behind Assistive Technologies

There's a lot to like about a University of Rochester project known as VizWiz, highlighted in the New Scientist a couple of weeks ago. Designed to enable blind people to get answers to everyday visual questions, VizWiz is a demo phone app that can take simple photos and get answers to simple questions, like what denomination is this bill, in near real-time.

It works like this:

Microfinancing Science

Via Science Insider comes word of an intriguing effort to bring the concept of microfinance to scientific research. Called SciFlies is reminiscent of Kickstarter. Researchers can post information about their research project, and users can send over small donations to fund their work.

Announcing the BodyShock Winners!

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 1st annual BodyShock The Future competition. With 109 design entries, it was tough to narrow it down to the winning 5 ideas! Here they are, in alphabetical order, with the grand prize winner still to be announced:


69 Design Ideas For Our Future Health


Design ideas are pouring in. People from over 15 countries around the world have entered BodyShock. Themes range from novel visualizations and behavior change games to accessible future technologies and enhanced social networks. Who will win?

Crowdsourcing health research

CureTogether recently announced that using only patient-reported data, it has confirmed the infertility-asthma association that has previously been explored only in clinical studies.  In an analysis of 324 patients, those who report infertility are 1.9x more likely to report having asthma than patients who don't report infertility. 

Within the 34 people reporting infertility, 13 (38%) reported having asthma (the remaining 21 out of 34 specifically said they did NOT have asthma). Within the 290 people reporting quot;no infertility", 58 (20%) reported having asthma (the remaining 232 specifically reported NOT having asthma). This 38% vs. 20% relative risk is statistically significant, with a 95% confidence interval of 1.4 - 2.6.

CureTogether is "a collaboration of people from around the world volunteering to solve real problems in chronic conditions" by self-reporting and rating symptoms and treatments for over 360 conditions. The website enables people to track their health, compare their experiences to others, and make more informed health decisions based on this self-knowledge and collective wisdom.

CureTogether co-founder Alexandra Carmichael participated on a panel about "Building the Health Commons" at our HC2020 Spring Conference, during which we discussed the culture of participation, cooperation, and commons thinking that may be needed to address the challenges of the future of health and health care.  I have also blogged about Alex and self-tracking here.

Rewarding ideas for the future of health care

The XPrize Foundation, which awards muliti-million dollar prizes for innovations in fields such as space technology and genomics, will announce on Tuesday details of the initial design for its latest competition, a proposed $10+ million Health Care X PRIZE.

President Obama's Inauguration: CNN,, & Photosynth

CNN has teamed up with to create an interactive map with stories from and photos from people at the inauguration in DC. It's not the fanciest thing ever, but it is an interesting glimpse at the inauguration from inside the crowd. The map is available here:

Pew Project wants to "crowdsource" new Internet health survey

September 29, 2008
Crowdsourcing a Survey: Health Topics

The Pew Internet Project will conduct a national telephone survey this fall about the internet's impact on health and health care. One of the first tasks is to look at our tried and true "trend" questions and decide which ones we should repeat as is and which ones need to be updated.

Engagement Economy

"The next ten years are almost certain to see exponential growth in all kinds of participation networks powered (and hopefully made profitable) by crowds. Every kind of group imaginable—corporate, start-up, research, not-for-profit, grassroots, entertainment, media, and artist—is taking part in the massively collaborative movement.

Open Bioscience: Where Will the Distributed Scientists Go to Work?

IFTF researcher David Pescovitz shared an article from Nature News today that covers the proliferation of crowdsourced biodata sharing. Recent months have seen a flurry of launches of open, loosely structured repositories of complex biochemical pathways like WikiPathways, Protein Data Bank Wiki and WikiGene.

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