Getting a grip on the grippe

You’ve had an inoculation and you’re still concerned about contracting the flu. Aside from living in a bubble or wearing a mask, technology can only do so much to protect you. If you do get sick, these three smartphone apps might help speed relief.

  • iTriage. The app lets you diagnose symptoms, identify an illness and book an appointment with the appropriate doctor. HCA West Florida Division uses iTriage to promote its 15 hospitals, including Blake Medical Center, Doctors Hospital of Sarasota and Englewood Community Hospital. Sarasota Memorial Health Care System uses AppBrain to provide users with a dynamic listing of its services, locations and physicians. Venice Regional Medical Center uses ER Extra to let users see the current emergency room wait time for the hospital and receive a map and directions to the facility.
  • RXmindMe Prescription. The app tells users when to take their medicine and offers nine types of reminders, from daily and weekly to a customizable schedule.
  • ZocDoc. A more social version than the others, ZocDoc allows users to check a doctor’s availability, view his or her credentials and rate the experience after the visit.

If that doesn’t work, take two aspirin and have the smartphone call you in the morning.

Jeff Widmer is a PR and social media strategist.

iTriage X

As Technology Booms so Does Need for Simplicity

What’s cool to one person can leave others cold. Technology is like that. Some get excited by it. Others get tangled in it.

As homes incorporate more sophisticated technology, builders and designers have to question whether customers will be wowed by all of the gadgets or struggle to operate them. The question goes well beyond the old cliché of whether older eyes can read the buttons on a remote.

Some thought-leaders are addressing the issue.

“Boomers are a very diverse group,” said Anne Postle, AIA, owner of osmosis art and architecture in Colorado. “Many are quite tech savvy, but others don’t want technology that complicates their lives. Examples of this are controls that require that you get out the instruction manual whenever you want to adjust a light, AV controls that require that you adopt a teenager (who understands the remote) if you want to watch a movie, or any system that loses all of its pre-programmed settings when the power fails.

“Too often, the technology that is ‘old hat’ to the Millennials can be very frustrating to the boomer. Consider things like night path lights through the house on a motion sensor, charging stations for phones and tablets and outlets that include a USB port for electronics. Smart builders will take a cue from Steve Jobs and offer technology that is intuitive, solves problems and truly simplifies the Boomers’ life.”

Emergency? Who You Gonna Call?

Payphones have gone the way of steam engines and spats. Concern about security has not. Colleges have responded by installing emergency call stations known for their blue lights. Adults old enough to remember rotary phones can use their landlines and lifelines.

Leave it to the Internet generation to develop an alternative.

Security apps for smartphones have become a booming business. They provide a wide range of functions, from receiving emergency notifications to connecting you with commercial monitoring teams through a subscription service. Apple’s App Store alone lists 98 apps in the emergency-alert category.

What’s your best bet if you want to use your smartphone as a mobile substitute for blue-light boxes? Here’s a short list of apps, some free, some not, starting with passive software and advancing toward interactive systems.

  • CodeRED Mobile Alert. Designed to keep you informed, this app taps into the national CodeRED Emergency Notification System to alter subscribers of public safety issues.
  • Emergency. The utility allows the direct dialing to four main emergency services (general, fire, police, medical).
  • SOS Panic Button. This app features a large panic button that, when pressed, will use the phone’s GPS tracking feature to notify friends and family of your location by telephone and email.
  • Bluelight. The app notifies your friends and family when you don’t arrive at your destination as planned.
  • SOS Response. This is for users who want their smartphones to act more like hardwired home alarm and blue-light systems. The app sends photos and GPS information to a monitoring team, who then alert responders.
  • MyForce. Another subscription-based service, this app sends reports to alarm monitors who, the developer says, will connect to 911 dispatchers “after an emergency is validated.”

A word of caution about the technology. Anyone can use a blue-light emergency call button or home-alarm system. Only those who can afford a smartphone and the monthly fee can access some of these subscription services. And what happens if your phone can’t find a signal?

 

Taking the temperature of weather apps

With much of the Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern seaboard in the grip of hurricane season, residents might want to update their iPads with the latest weather apps. (The iPad doesn’t come with a basic weather app, unlike its smaller sibling, the iPhone.) Mashable’s Elizabeth Woodard has a few suggestions.

For basic information in an uncluttered display, Magical Weather presents a week’s worth of temperatures in a transparent pane over an animated background. Users can swipe to retrieve an hourly forecast.

For all the bells and whistles, Intellicast HD displays a full 10-day forecast with charts, graphs, sunrise and sunset times, moon phases, a radar picture, storm cell tracking, wind direction and a weather blog.

For customizable graphs, Seasonality Go shows users a series of screens they populate with weather data. Users can move and resize the panes with forecasts and maps until they find the one they want.

Some apps, like WeatherBug and The Weather Channel, are also available for iPhone and Android devices.

Now if they’d only keep the roof from leaking.

 

 

Social fever: tracking your health

As part of its 12 trends for 2012 Trendwatching.com has published a list of tech products that enable the monitoring, tracking and sharing of an individual’s health information. It’s called DIY health and it’s going to be big this year.

With the aid of a smartphone users can monitor and potentially diagnose issues with complete privacy, without visiting a healthcare provider. The irony is that the software will allow users to share that information with friends, family and physicians — and possibly device-makers and mobile-phone carriers.

What technology gives, technology takes away.

The gadgets include a wristband that tracks a user’s moving, eating and sleeping patterns; a cuff that plugs into an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch and takes the user’s blood pressure; and a trio of apps from Ford that allow in-car monitoring of chronic conditions such as diabetes and hay fever.

In case you think DIY health monitoring is a passing fad, Trendwatching says Apple’s App Store now offers 9,000 mobile health apps, a number that is expected to rise to 13,000 by the middle of the year.

Jawbone personal health and fitness bracelet