Pinterest’s ‘real-world’ search engine
Bytes: What’s new in tech
Pinterest just unveiled a new kind of search result, said Casey Newton in TheVerge.com. With a tool called Lens, Pinterest users can snap a photo of an object in the real world and then have Pinterest suggest items related to it. Take a picture of a pomegranate, for instance, and Pinterest will show results for pomegranate bread, and tips for peeling pomegranates. Snap a photo of a sweater, and Pinterest might show you pictures of the same sweater styled in different ways. Pinterest is also making it easier to buy the stuff you see on the site. Its new Shop the Look feature “identifies items in pins that can be bought,” giving a link to make the purchase. Right now, you can find brands including CB2, Target, and Neiman Marcus.
Vive la vérification!
The fight against fake news is headed to France, said Ivana Kottasova in CNN.com. Google and Facebook are teaming up with nonprofit First Draft News to help French journalists identify and debunk “hoaxes, rumors, and other false claims” in the run-up to the country’s first round of presidential elections on April 23. The project—called “ CrossCheck”—will provide French newsrooms with tools to monitor search engines and social networks for fabricated stories. Google will also train French journalism students in “advanced search techniques” to spot fake news. A live feed of shareable “report cards” will be available on the CrossCheck site, providing more information for each false story they identify. At least 17 major news organizations, including Le Monde and BuzzFeed.com, are participating in CrossCheck.
Monitoring phone calls for disease
A startup is working to detect Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease just by listening to the sound of someone’s voice—“and it’s found a controversial source of audio data to train its algorithms on: phone calls to a health insurer,” said Matt Reynolds in NewScientist.com. Canary Speech says it’s working with an unidentified U.S. insurer to analyze hundreds of millions of calls. Using the speakers’ medical history and demographic background, Canary looks for subtle vocal cues that might indicate symptoms of certain neurological conditions. “A softness of speech resulting from lack of coordination over the vocal muscles” might be one cue. The company has been coy about the possibility of the technology being used to screen callers or influence insurance premiums, saying such applications “may be regulated.”