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Like Uber, get a VIRTUAL doctor on your smartphone

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Los Angeles, USA: As the number of cellphone users around the world continues to grow, more people are able to get services with mobile apps. One of the latest innovations is on-demand medical care. The University of Southern California Center for Body Computing says it uses virtual reality technology and artificial intelligence to provide care for patients anywhere in the world. Elizabeth Lee of Voice of America explains how it works.

From ordering food to getting a ride, mobile apps allow users to get what they want by just pressing a button.

Soon you may also be able to get a doctor – on demand. Well, a VIRTUAL doctor, actually!

Dr Leslie Saxon, Center for Body Computing says: “We’re trying to do the same thing for medical diagnosis and care.”

Now, This doctor is a virtual human, in this case, an avatar…of Leslie Saxon, a heart doctor.

Dr Saxon further adds:“There are only so many experts in the world and we’re never going to be able to bring the world’s medical experts or have enough to supply the need of the entire world.  So we can clone — if you will — many of the experts to provide care anywhere anytime, without borders so that I can treat patients in Iran or Indonesia or India as easily as I can treat them in Los Angeles.”

Researchers here at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies. have been able to create virtual humans that not only interact with real people but respond with empathy.

Randall Hill, Institute for Creative Technologies says: “We can pick up signals there that tell us whether the patient is depressed or happy or whatever.  And so we’re able to use that and create an experience.”

Saxon says in many ways, VIRTUAL doctors can be better doctors than their HUMAN originals. She adds: “We’re human doctors. We’re not always in the same mood. We’re not always delivering information in the same way. We’re not always as current as we need to be depending on the type of visit that we’re having. So these virtual humans hopefully are smarter. Potentially, they even read the patients better.”

The VIRTUAL doctor will have the knowledge of its human counterpart to diagnose problems and provide tailored information about a certain diagnosis based on patients’ characteristics and where they live. Sensors on a phone or worn by the user can provide more information for the virtual doctor. Creators say an avatar like this does not replace real doctors, it enhances them.

And in some places, it helps equalize medical care.

Dr Saxon elaborates: “We can bring everything that’s built in developed countries sophisticated medical systems and knowledge across the world where they are not built.”

The mobile application for the Virtual Care Clinic will be available later this year. The aim is to have virtual doctors speak in multiple languages.

((Elizabeth Lee For VOA News Los Angeles))

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Petrol Prices On The Reverse Trend For The Last 13 Days: Prices Fall

Both in Delhi and Kolkata, diesel prices in the fortnight have declined

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Petrol Prices On The Reverse Trend For The Last 13 Days: Prices Falls
Petrol Prices On The Reverse Trend For The Last 13 Days: Prices Falls, flickr

Domestic petrol prices, which had hit record levels for 16 consecutive days in May, have been on the reverse trend for the last 13 days, including Monday, but the relief for consumers has been slow in coming.

The pace of decline has been less than half the rate of surge.

Percentage-wise, since May 30, when prices started to take a downturn, petrol prices have slipped 2.35 per cent in Delhi, compared to the 5.5 per cent in the previous 16 days.

In absolute terms, prices have gone down by Rs 1.85 a litre since May 30, compared to the increase of Rs 3.8 per litre in the during May 14-29. On Monday, fuel was sold at Rs 76.58 per litre in the national capital, down 20 paise from Sunday’s level, the IndianOil Corp’s website showed.

In Mumbai, where petrol prices were the highest in the country last month, the decline has been much slow at Rs 1.23 per litre so far, against the rise of Rs 3.76 a litre during May 14-29.

On Monday, petrol price in Mumbai was Rs 84.41 per litre against Rs 84.61 on Sunday. Similarly, in Kolkata and Chennai, the fuel was sold at Rs 79.25 and Rs 79.48 respectively.

In Kolkata and Chennai too, the decline has been Rs 1.81 and Rs 1.65 per litre in the last 13 days, around 50 per cent of the previous rate of increase.

In tandem with petrol prices, diesel too has seen a decline, but of only around 2 per cent in all the major cities including Delhi, compared to over 5 per cent rise in the previous fortnight.

Petrol station
Petrol station, flickr

Both in Delhi and Kolkata, diesel prices in the last 13 days have declined by Rs 1.36, and in Mumbai and Kolkata, the fall was of Rs 1.44 and Rs 1.45 per litre respectively.

Also read: Petrol price slashes by 32 paise and diesel price by 85 paise

On Monday, prices of the fuel in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai were at Rs 67.95, Rs 70.50, Rs 72.35 and Rs 71.73 per litre, respectively. (IANS)