Friday Five: Google’s AI tool to help identify skin conditions

Zone’s Ross Basham handpicks and shares the five best new stories on digital trends, experiences and technologies…

1. Google AI tool to help identify skin conditions

Google has unveiled a tool that uses AI to help spot skin, hair and nail conditions based on images uploaded by patients. The AI can recognise 288 skin conditions but is not designed to be a substitute for medical diagnosis and treatment. As well as using images, the app also requires patients to answer a series of questions.

Google says there are 10 billion searches for skin, hair and nail issues every year. The AI for this tool has been optimised to avoid missing “alarming or scary” conditions such as skin cancer, although erring on the side of caution means lots of people will be advised to check out something that will turn out to be benign.

2. Microsoft finally kills off Internet Explorer

The long goodbye to Internet Explorer has begun. Microsoft has announced that, as of June 2022, Internet Explorer will be retired and no longer supported on most versions of Windows 10. However, it will live on in Microsoft Edge, which has Internet Explorer mode built in so people can access legacy IE-based sites and apps.

After 25 years’ service, the retirement of Internet Explorer has been a long time coming. The once ubiquitous browser lost its number one spot to Google Chrome in the US back in 2013 and has been plagued by security flaws. Web developers will be most pleased, as they’ll no longer have to support IE in their coding.

3. Parents’ evenings likely to remain virtual

Parents’ evenings at schools are likely to remain virtual beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the government’s education catch-up tsar, Sir Kevan Collins. He told a committee: “Zoom for parents’ evenings is much better than trying to find a car-parking space on a wet Tuesday and waiting your turn.”

While this will come as good news for busy parents, the National Association of Head Teachers said it hoped to see a hybrid model for such events in the future, with some meetings staying online (yes please!) but face-to-face conversations available for parents who wanted them (or for those unable to access online meetings).

4. Google uses AI and 3D for realistic video chat

Video calls have become a big part of all our lives, but what if video chatting actually felt like sitting across from a real person and talking naturally? Well, Google has unveiled Project Starline, which uses advanced technology including AI and 3D imaging to make it seem like the other person is sitting across a table from you.

You sit in front of what looks like a window and, on the other side, see another person, life-size and in three dimensions, with no need for AR glasses or headsets. Sounds great, eh? Of course, there’s a catch — the tech requires specialised, custom-built equipment and is likely to be wildly expensive. But it looks amazing.

5. Biden interested in electrifying the Beast

The investment bank UBS recently predicted that 50% of global new cars will be electric by 2030 (and possibly 100% by 2040). And, according to the White House press secretary Jen Psaki, US president Joe Biden is apparently keen on joining the party by making the presidential limo (known as ‘the Beast’) electric.

It’s unclear whether an electric Beast is even possible, given all the limo’s baked-in security and safety elements. Plus, the Beast in EV form would inevitably be a real beast on the scale, seeing as the current limo weighs between 15,000 and 20,000 pounds. But it’s good to see the president staying true to his green credentials.

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