Stephen Baker

The Numerati
Home - Viewing one post

How much data can Asthma inhalers provide?

May 11, 2011Hop Skip Go

It seems like the perfect combination for asthma research: inhalers equipped with GPS, so that each use of the medication comes with a time and place tag. Teradata's Paul Barsch  cites an Economist article about Asthmopolis, the new tool to track asthma.

The idea is that people can map their own patterns, and come to understand, and hopefully avoid, places and conditions that provoke asthma attacks. And researchers, studying the data from thousands of users, might learn even more.

That's where other variables come in. The GPS data may show that 20 users in Youngstown, Ohio, suffer exacerbations between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. on a Tuesday night. But how many of them are just traveling through Youngstown in their car? Should they count? And how many of them are spending the evening in close quarters with their cats or dogs? What did people eat? Since each of us is a complex system, the challenge with medical monitoring is to pick up as much detail of the entire life as possible.

The key--at least until English-savvy machines like Watson are on the case--is to get valuable diary data into formats machines can process. Then systems like Asthmopolis could really make a difference, both for individuals and society at large. The other key, as Barsch notes, is to do this in a way that protects people's privacy. None of the medical monitoring will work without that.

add comment share:

©2021 Stephen Baker Media, All rights reserved.     Site by Infinet Design

Kirkus Reviews -

LibraryJournal - Library Journal

Booklist Reviews - David Pitt

Locus - Paul di Filippo

read more reviews

Prequel to The Boost: Dark Site
- December 3, 2014

The Boost: an excerpt
- April 15, 2014

My horrible Superbowl weekend, in perspective
- February 3, 2014

My coming novel: Boosting human cognition
- May 30, 2013

Why Nate Silver is never wrong
- November 8, 2012

The psychology behind bankers' hatred for Obama
- September 10, 2012

"Corporations are People": an op-ed
- August 16, 2011

Wall Street Journal excerpt: Final Jeopardy
- February 4, 2011

Why IBM's Watson is Smarter than Google
- January 9, 2011

Rethinking books
- October 3, 2010

The coming privacy boom
- August 17, 2010

The appeal of virtual
- May 18, 2010