With an aging Baby Boomer population and broadband bandwidth continuing to see huge improvements, telemedicine is exploding as a convenient and less costly alternative to the traditional visit to the doctors’ office.
This year in the U.S. and Canada, 75 million of 600 million appointments with general practitioners will involve electronic visits, or eVisits, according to new research from Deloitte.
The overall cost of in-person primary physician visits worldwide is $175 billion, according to Deloitte. Globally, the number of eVisits will climb to 100 million this year, potentially saving over $5 billion when compared to the cost of in-person doctor visits. The eVisit projection represents growth of 400% from 2012 levels, Deloitte’s study showed.
Last November, The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) revamped its patient portal, renaming it MyUPMC, and rolling out AnywhereCare, offering patients throughout Pennsylvania eVisits with doctors 24 hoirs a day, seven days a week either over the phone or through video conferencing.
UPMC, an $11 billion health care provider and insurer, with 21 hospitals, and more than 400 outpatient sites, said its AnywhereCare service has an 80% satisfaction rating. Patients love the convenience and speed of remote care, according to Natasa Sokolovich, executive director of telemedicine at UPMC.
“The new model provides a faster turnaround. Within 30 minutes … they have the ability to get access to a healthcare provider,” Sokolovich said.
Electronic visits or telemedicine is comprised of electronic document exchanges, telephone consultations, email or texting, and videoconferencing between physicians and patients.
The vast majority of eVisits, according to Deloitte, are likely to focus on capturing patient information through electronic forms, questionnaires and photos, rather than through direct interaction with a physician using Skype or some other real-time tool.
“For example, patients with symptoms of certain illnesses such as sinusitis, strep throat, allergies, bladder infection or acne would complete an online form and then receive a diagnosis and, if required, a prescription,” Deloitte stated in a recent report.
While not all in-person primary physician consults can be handled by eVisits, even only 30% to 40% implies a $50 to $60 billion total addressable market, according to Deloitte.
Bill Gates has unloaded another 20 million shares of Microsoft, the technology giant he co-founded, driving his portfolio under the 300-million mark for the first time, according to regulatory filings.
Over a five-day span from July 24 to July 30, Gates sold the shares at prices ranging from $43.45 to $44.54, turning the holdings into $882 million in cash. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published the sales documents between July 28 and July 31.
Gates, former CEO and chairman, has been selling approximately 80 million shares annually — usually 20 million each quarter — for the last decade in a long-standing plan to fund the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates has pledged to give away the bulk of his wealth.
At the end of his latest sales stretch, Gates owned 298 million shares worth $12.9 billion at Monday’s closing price. If Gates continues his sales pace, he will empty his portfolio by September 2018.
Gates ceded the title of largest Microsoft shareholder in April, when his holdings dipped under the 333 million owned by ex-CEO Steve Ballmer. Ballmer, who has promised to pay $2 billion for the Los Angeles Clippers professional basketball team, has about $14.4 billion in Microsoft stock.
Both men remain on the company’s board.
Since Gates vacated his role as chairman in February to become an advisor to new CEO Satya Nadella, Gates has been almost entirely in the background at Microsoft. He has remained in the news, however, most recently in a report from China that he will help start a philanthropic education program in that country.
According to Forbes, Gates is the second-richest person on the planet, with an estimated wealth of $79.5 billion.
OkCupid, a top U.S. dating website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said, weeks after Facebook Inc similarly admitted to misleading users in a psychological study.
“When we tell people they are a good match, they act as if they are,” co-founder Christian Rudder wrote in a blog post. “Even when they should be wrong for each other.”
Conversely, couples told they were bad matches, even when OkCupid’s algorithm showed the opposite, were less likely to exchange four messages. Exchanging four messages is an OkCupid measure for gauging romantic interest.
In the post, titled “We Experiment on Human Beings!” Rudder explained the tests helped the company refine its product. He did not respond to an email asking how many users were tested.
“Most ideas are bad,” he wrote. “Even good ideas could be better. Experiments are how you sort all this out.”
An IAC spokeswoman said OkCupid planned to continue with the experiments, which are known in the business as A/B testing.
But experimenting on users without their consent could cost the company credibility, said Irina Raicu, director of the Internet ethics program at Santa Clara University.
“They are messing with emotions and with communications,” she said. “That’s different than other things we are A/B tested about.”
The experiment drew heavy criticism online. In a tweet, University of Pennsylvania computer scientist Matt Blaze suggested a few new clauses for online user licensing agreements:“We reserve the right to induce despair” and “You agree that there will be no love, except the love of Big Brother.”
Among the top 13 LCD display brands worldwide, the share of UHD TV shipments reached just 5% in May, up from 4% in April, 3% in March and 2% in February, according to IHS.
While UHD TV share has grown by 1 percentage point for each of the last three months, growth hasn’t budged much since September, when the market was already at the 2% level.
The top 13 UHD TV brands account for more than 75% of total LCD TV shipments and represent more than 90% of overall UHD LCD TV shipments.
UHD TV shipments this year are projected to grow to 14.5 million units, up from just 2 million in 2013, as global brands deploy aggressive marketing efforts and roll out new models, according to IHS.
Flat-panel televisions overall amounted to 18.1 million units in May, down 6.4% from April but up 7% from the same time a year ago. Of the total, LCD TVs — including UHD sets – accounted for 17.4 million units, with plasma TVs making up the remainder at 708,000 units.
“Growth in this year’s global UHD TV market is a reflection of plans among TV makers, especially the Chinese, to increase sales. And expansion in UHD TV volume is mostly scheduled for the second half this year,” Jusy Hong, an IHS principal analyst for consumer devices, said in a statement.
UHD TVs have much higher resolution than conventional HD sets, but the dazzling images come at a steep trade-off: their prices can be several times those of LCD TVs.
According to the Consumer Electronics Association, which hosts the CES conference, buyers still pay north of $50,000 for a 105-in. UHD-TV, while the average price for a 55-in. UHD-TV this year will be around $2,750. By 2017, that price is expected to drop to $1,850.
That compares to 1080p high-definition TVs (HDTVs) today that run anywhere from $700 to around $1,700 for a 55-in. model.
Six-year-old Flurry uses analytics to help target ads at consumers by monitoring activity on more than half a million apps on some 1.4 billion mobile devices around the world, Yahoo said in a statement.
The startup provides information to help marketers and brands more easily reach their desired audiences, Yahoo said.
Yahoo did not cite a price tag, but a source familiar with the matter said the Internet company is paying several hundred million dollars. Tech blog re/code earlier reported that rough amount.
Flurry will operate much as before after the acquisition closes, and its team will remain in their current locations, Yahoo added.
Yahoo is trying to revitalize a stagnant online advertising business as Chief Executive Marissa Mayer marks her second anniversary at the Internet company.
The former Google executive has revamped many of Yahoo’s Web products but its ad sales are still weak while rivals such as Google and Facebook continue to post strong, double-digit revenue growth.
Like its rivals, it has been investing in its mobile advertising platform, as users increasingly access the Internet from smartphones and tablets. Its mobile advertising revenue more than doubled in the second quarter.
But mobile advertising typically commands lower rates than online. Revenue in Yahoo’s display advertising business decreased 8 percent to $436 million in the second quarter.
There were 632 million Internet users in China in June, according to the government-linked China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).
Although China has long reigned as the country with the world’s largest Internet population, the services are still struggling to take off in the rural areas, where about 450 million people never go online, said the CNNIC in its bi-annual report.
Total Internet penetration in China is at 46.9 percent. This is far lower than the U.S, which has a penetration rate of 87 percent, according to Internet World Stats.
Many of these non-Internet users in China have low education levels, and have little need to surf the Web, the research group added. To increase adoption, the CNNIC recommended that the country focus on teaching rural elementary students Internet skills.
The slowing growth in Internet usage in China follows a rapid rise in the Internet population there, from just 94 million over a decade ago. Most of the growth has taken place in the country’s urban areas, where the Internet market has begun to mature.
In June, China had 527 million users who went online with mobile phones, which have now overtaken PCs, including both notebooks and desktops, as the most popular way to reach the Internet, the CNNIC said.
Online messaging, search engines, and news are the country’s top Internet services. But social networking sites are facing a decline in popularity, with their user numbers falling by 7.4 percent to 257 million in the last six months. The sites are struggling to innovate, and meet the demands of users, CNNIC said in its report.
The U.S. government made approximately 150,000 requests for customer information from Verizon Communications in the first half of 2014, most of them subpoenas, the country’s largest wireless carrier has reported.
The report is the second summary of government requests Verizon has publicly issued since shareholders pressured the company to divulge information it shared with the government in December.
The government issued 72,342 subpoenas, half of which request subscriber information on a given phone number or IP address, while others ask for transactional information, like the phone numbers a customer has called, according to Verizon.
Verizon also received over 37,000 court orders, including 714 wiretaps, which give access to the content of communications and over 3,000 pen registers and trap and trace orders, which give the government real-time access to outgoing and incoming phone numbers, respectively.
“We repeat our call for governments around the world to make public the number of demands they make for customer data from telecom and Internet companies,” Randal Milch, Verizon’s general counsel, wrote in a company blog.
The report included limited information on international requests. France led all foreign countries listed in the report in customer information point requests, which include phone numbers or IP addresses used to identify a customer, with 762 requests.
The Citizen Lab, part of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, and Kaspersky Lab both published analyses of a surveillance product called Remote Control System (RCS) from Hacking Team in Italy.
Hacking Team is one of a handful of companies, including the Gamma Group, specializing in what are essentially malicious software programs designed to intercept data but intended for governments and law enforcement.
The Citizen Lab has long expressed concern in other published research over the use of the tools by governments, which it has concluded have been employed to suppress speech and monitor political opponents in the past.
Over time, the cost of the spying toolkits has fallen and they are now within reach of nearly all governments, the Citizen Lab said in its writeup.
“By dramatically lowering the entry cost on invasive and hard-to-trace monitoring, the equipment lowers the cost of targeting political threats for those with access to Hacking Team and Gamma Group toolkits,” the group wrote.
The latest research looks into the exploitation techniques for an Android component of RCS and the command-and-control infrastructure behind it.
The Citizen Lab identified a suspicious Android APK (application installation package) that was a functional copy of the news application “Qatif Today” intended for people in Saudi Arabia. A version of it had been modified to also deliver a payload created by Hacking Team.
A link to what appeared to the malicious APK was tweeted, which led to a Dropbox file that is now gone, The Citizen Lab wrote. If installed, the Hacking Team module requests permissions such as reading and writing SMSes, monitoring GPS location and the ability to process calls.
The Citizen Lab found other Android Hacking Team Android implants that tried to access local stores of chats in applications such as Facebook, Viber, Skype, Line and QQ.
A source leaked to The Citizen Lab a group of documents that describes how the RCS works, giving the research group broad insight into how tracking targets works. The group cautioned the documents have not been verified, but the information did not contradict its own RCS research.
Kaspersky Lab wrote on its blog that it uncovered “a huge infrastructure that is used to control the RCS malware implants.”
Kaspersky scanned the entire IPV4 Internet address space, using a special “fingerprinting” method it developed that can identify RCS command-and-control servers.
It found 64 RCS command-and-control servers in the U.S., the most of any country, followed by 49 in Kazakhstan, 35 in Ecuador and 24 in the U.K. Other countries with double-digit numbers of control servers included Canada, China and Colombia.
The commitment comes at a time when new data shows a dramatic drop in theft of Apple iPhones and iPads after the September 2013 introduction of iOS 7, which included a kill-switch function that allows stolen devices to be remotely locked and deleted so they become useless.
In New York, iPhone theft was down 19 percent in the first five months of this year, which is almost double the 10 percent drop in overall robberies seen in the city. Over the same period, thefts of Samsung devices — which did not include a kill switch until one was introduced on Verizon-only models in April — rose by over 40 percent.
In San Francisco, robberies of iPhones were 38 percent lower in the six months after the iOS 7 introduction versus the six months before, while in London thefts over the same period were down by 24 percent. In both cities, robberies of Samsung devices increased.
“These statistics validate what we always knew to be true, that a technological solution has the potential to end the victimization of wireless consumers everywhere,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon told IDG News Service.
Gascon and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have been leading a push to get smartphone vendors and telecom carriers to include kill switches in their products as a way to curb phone theft.
The joint work had early success with Apple but other carriers and phone makers dragged their feet. However, resistance to the idea appears to be dropping as several bills that mandate kill switches make their way through state legislatures and the U.S. Congress.
The bills demand a function that would enable a phone owner to remotely delete and disable a phone if stolen. The function could be disabled by consumers before a theft takes place if desired, but crucially new handsets would be supplied with it switched on by default.
Japan’s SoftBank Corp said on Thursday it will begin selling human-like robots for personal use by February, expanding into a sector seen key to addressing labor shortages in one of the world’s fastest ageing populations.
The robots, which the mobile phone and Internet conglomerate envisions serving as baby-sitters, nurses, emergency medical workers or even party companions, will sell for 198,000 yen ($1,900) and are capable of learning and expressing emotions, Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son told a news conference.
A prototype will be deployed this week, serving customers at SoftBank mobile phone stores in Japan, he added. The sleek, waist-high robot, named Pepper, accompanied Son to the briefing, speaking to reporters in a high-pitched, boyish voice.
“People describe others as being robots because they have no emotions, no heart. For the first time in human history, we’re giving a robot a heart, emotions,” Son said.
The robots were developed by French robotics company Aldebaran, in which SoftBank took a stake in 2012, and will be manufactured by Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd.
They will use cloud computing to share data that can develop their own emotional capabilities. Son said they would not share an owner’s personal information.
Japan’s population is one of the most rapidly ageing in the world and the government hopes companies can offset a decline in the labour force by utilizing robotics.
Several Japanese technology manufacturers are targeting robotics for growth. Panasonic Corp and robotics research subsidiary ActiveLink Co Ltd this week showcased robotic suits and vests to assist in arduous manual tasks such as carrying heavy loads or picking fruit from trees. Personal or household robots, such as the Asimo robot that Honda Motor Co has been developing for more than a decade, are seen as potential elderly care providers.
Fireye has warned organisations to be on the lookout for bucksome toothed Molerat attacks, having spotted phishing assaults in Europe.
Molerat made its presence felt earlier, and Fireeye said that it has spotted attacks in the Middle East and United States. It said that traditionally the attacks, which use the off-the-shelf Remote Access Tool (RAT) should not be linked to Chinese threat actors anymore.
“Previous research has linked these campaigns to Molerats,” it said, “but with so much public attention focused on [advanced persistent threat] threat actors based in China, it’s easy to lose track of targeted attacks carried out by other threat actor groups based elsewhere.”
Fireeye said that the tools and tactics have been used to target organisations like the BBC, an unnamed “major US financial institution” and government departments in Israel, Turkey, Slovenia, Macedonia, New Zealand, Latvia, the US and the UK.
These attacks happened over the last five weeks, it added, and used a mix of new and recognisable tactics.
“Previous Molerats campaigns have used several garden-variety, freely available backdoors such as Cybergate and Bifrost, but, most recently, we have observed them making use of the PIVY and Xtreme RATs. Previous campaigns made use of at least one of three observed forged Microsoft certificates, allowing security researchers to accurately tie together separate attacks even if the attacks used different backdoors,” it added.
“There also appears to be a habitual use of lures or decoy documents – in either English or Arabic-language – with content focusing on active conflicts in the Middle East. The lures come packaged with malicious files that drop the Molerats’ flavor of the week, which happen to all be Xtreme RAT binaries in these most recent campaigns.”
The end of May saw a malicious download URL sent to a well-known European government organisation. The shortened link offered “http://lovegame[.]us/ Photos[.]zip”, and Fireye said that it was clicked on and downloaded by the victim.
Decoy files in the package give way to the installation of the Xtreme RAT binary into a temporary directory, and according to the security company that same URL has been clicked at least 225 times on a variety of hardware and software since then.
Other similar malicious files have been shared through shortened URLs, it added, and many are hidden within RAR files that are automatically extracted.
The attacks seem rather limited and Fireeye said that off-the-shelf tools are most often used. However, it added that the target network is widening, and the impact of this is “noteworthy”.
The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) developed the unmanned aerial vehicle under its High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems (HACMS) program, military blog Defense Tech reported last week.
DARPA unveiled a prototype of the mini-drone last week during a broader demonstration of over 100 ongoing research projects at the agency.
DARPA’s HACMS program was created to develop technologies for improving the security of embedded systems in drones, weapons systems, aircraft,supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems and medical and mobile devices.
HACMS is looking especially at interactive software synthesis systems, code verification tools and new specification languages, DARPA said. If the technologies prove successful, DARPA will make them available for use in commercial and defense systems.
“HACMS will adopt a clean-slate, formal methods-based approach to enable semi-automated code synthesis from executable, formal specifications,” DARPA said in a statement. In addition to generating code, HACMS will also develop technology for ensuring that all generated code satisfies security and safety policies.
Software developed for the quadcopter drone makes it impervious to attacks by hackers that try to take over its navigation and control systems. “The software is mathematically proven to be invulnerable to large classes of attack,” HACMS program manager Kathleen Fisher told Defense Tech.
All attempts to hack into the drone during red-team exercises and other penetration tests by cyber security experts failed, she told the military blog site.
DARPA did not respond to request for comment on the technology.
If the software really works as billed, it would be a big step forward for the Pentagon. Over the past six years, there have been at least two known incidents in which U.S. military drones were apparently being hacked into by attackers.
Following an attack disclosed last week that exposed sensitive information of up to 145 million people, the auction giant is scrambling to repair several other problems reported in its vast network by security enthusiasts.
“As a company, we take all vulnerabilities reported to us very seriously, evaluating any reported issue within the context of our entire security infrastructure,” wrote Ryan Moore, lead manager of eBay’s business communications, in an email to IDG News Service.
EBay has long been a target for cybercriminals. It is the seventh most visited site in the U.S, according to statistics from Amazon’s Alexa Web analytics unit. Its combination of a marketplace and payments platform, PayPal, means it holds sensitive data and poses opportunity for fraudsters.
Three U.S. states — Connecticut, Florida and Illinois — are jointly investigating eBay’s data breach, a sign that regulators and law enforcement are taking a keen interest in how consumer data is protected following Target’s data breach last year.
EBay’s size puts it in the league of companies such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft. All run large networks constantly prodded by “black hat” hackers, those who are seeking to damage a company or profit from attacks, and “white hats,” who alert companies to problems.
Yasser Ali, a 27-year-old who lives in Luxor, Egypt, said it took him all of three minutes last week to find a serious vulnerability that could let him take over anyone’s eBay account if he knows a person’s user name, which is public information.
Ali shared a video with eBay showing how the flaw could be exploited, he said in a phone interview Tuesday night. He hasn’t received a response from eBay, but said the video was viewed by company officials 17 times, according to a statistics counter on the clip. Moore said eBay has now fixed the bug, and Ali plans to release details of it.
Twitter users are expected to increase by 24.4% this year to over 227 million with double-digit growth expected to continue through 2018 when the number of users will be nearly 400 million, according to a report.
The US will continue to be the country with the largest number of individual Twitter users through 2018, according to an eMarketer report . But its share of users, currently at 20%, will drop over the years and give Twitter the opportunity to grow its advertising revenue from outside the U.S.
The Asia-Pacific region increased its share of the number of Twitter users to 30.5% in 2013 in comparison to 26% for second-place North America. High growth countries in Asia-Pacific were Indonesia and India with 76.3% and 68.8% growth, respectively.
The research firm said its estimates are based on how many individual users log in or access Twitter each month within the calendar year. It said its figure differs from Twitter’s reported figure for users because it uses consumer survey data to remove business accounts, multiple accounts for individual users and other sources of potential double-counting.
Twitter reported average monthly active users (MAUs) were 241 million as of Dec. 31, which increased to 255 million at the end of the first quarter.
The figure for Asia-Pacific does not include China which blocks Twitter, although users still access the social networking site using virtual private networks.
By 2018, the share of the Asia-Pacific region is forecast to reach 40.1%, eMarketer said.
India and Indonesia are forecast to have the third and fourth-largest base of Twitter users in the world in 2014, with about 18 million and 15 million users, respectively.
The popularity of Twitter and other social media in India was reflected in the extensive use of these tools during the recently concluded federal elections in the country. The new prime minister Narendra Modi uses Twitter and Facebook frequently to communicate to literate users and has over 4.4 million followers on Twitter.
Google Inc’s auto-piloting car technology likely will not be available for several more years. But the Internet giant is already going on the charm offensive to make the public comfortable with the futuristic vehicles.
A fleet of Google’s robot cars chauffeured more than two dozen reporters around Mountain View, California, on Tuesday, in 30-minute ride-alongs that showcased their ability to automatically and safely navigate around city streets packed with cyclists, pedestrians and traffic signs.
The demonstrations, along with a morning of press briefings by Google managers developing the technology, marked the company’s most concerted effort to date to provide an up-close look at the cars conceived five years ago in its secretive Google X division.
The public needs to understand that a self-driving car is “not something that you need to fear but something you need to embrace,” said Ron Medford, a former National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration official who is now director of safety for Google’s self-driving car project.
“We do find that when people experience it, we get remarkable results and responses,” Medford said at the event at the Computer History Museum, during which Google explained the technology that makes the cars work.
Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin tout the driverless car as revolutionary technology that could eventually sharply reduce fatalities on the road. But it remains to be seen whether it’s ready for widespread use.
Lately, some of Google’s ambitious “moonshot” projects have stirred unease. Google Glass, a postage stamp-sized computer screen that attaches to eyeglass frames and is capable of recording video, has raised privacy concerns.
For self-driving cars, consumer acceptance and regulation may be as much issues as perfecting the technology.
Google will not say whether it will build its own cars or license the technology to automakers, nor will it provide a firm date for when the cars will be available. Co-founder Brin has said the technology could be available by 2017.