Author Archives: Kolczyńska Helena

New app measuring peoples respiratory rate – is it really a good idea?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This month, Google is adding heart and respiratory rate monitors on Pixel phones to the Fit app, and it plans to expand them in the future to other Android phones. The smartphone camera relies on both features: it tests respiratory rate by measuring the rise and fall of the chest of a consumer, and heart rate by tracking the shift in color as blood passes through the tip of the finger.

“The features are only intended to let users track overall wellness and cannot evaluate or diagnose medical conditions” Google said.

Users aim the phone’s front-facing camera at their head and chest to calculate the respiratory rate (the number of breaths someone takes every minute) using the app. They put their fingers over the rear-facing camera to test the heart rate.


In my opinion, it’s a great thing to do. Often, especially these days people have a hard time going to doctors. It could be a really good thing to introduce to make peoples lives better.

However, I do have a huge concerns about this project. If the results “cannot evaluate or diagnose medical conditions”, than what is really the point of this function? People cannot relay on the results. Thus, if there were too high or too low, people would not know if this is accurate, so in the result they will have to measure it in the different way, so isn’t it without any sease? On the other hand, If the app shows that the results are good, than people cannot relay on this too, so it can even provide some missleading information.

So if the wrong result will cause someone’s problems with health/life, is Google taking responsibility for that? If not, what is the point of the app, if it does not help people and its results are not authoritative?

Souces: 2021. TechCrunch is now a part of Verizon Media. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 4 February 2021].

The Verge. 2021. Pixel phones will be able to read your heart rate with their cameras. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 4 February 2021].

A new app can help to monitor the progression of Parkinson disease

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination. Parkinson’s symptoms usually begin gradually and get worse over time. As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking. They may also have mental and baehavioral changes, sleep problems, depression, memory difficulties, and fatigue ” National Institute of Aging says.

When it comes to Parkinson disease, it is significant to monitor and realize about the changes and progression of the disease. For this purpose, scientists from UCL and Birbeck, University of London have created the APP which allows monitor it at home, which might be groundbreaking for the society suffering because of Parkinson.

Usually, test for Parkinson are assesed during an appointment with a specialized doctor. The procedure is extremely time consuming, needs specialistic medical equipement and even though it takes so much commitment, it is still often not very detailed.

Scientist came up with the solution – an app that will do biannual checkups, which can be more frequent and be done in comfort of a patients home. Even though Parkinson’s symptoms vary from a patient to patient, even vary depending on the day, the new app seems to have a solution. It allows us to make multiple readings over a longer period of time and it will capture the fluctuations more accurately.

The cloudUPDRS app: A medical device for the clinical assessment of  Parkinson's Disease - ScienceDirect

CloudUPDRS (the app) is certified in the UK’s medical regulations and it is assessed as a medical device. The program includes physical test and self-assessment questions. It uses mobile motion and touch sensors to assess symptoms such as tremor and gait. Scientists tested the software in a trial involving 60 individuals dealing with Parkinson’s disease. They performed 990 tests on the software and were also tested by three independent specialists. The study found that the app tests matched those of the doctors 70% of the time. This allowed further to develop the app to achieve 79% accuracy.

“Digital biomarkers developed using mobile and wearable technologies offer novel opportunities for disease management, especially in Parkinson’s, which sets distinctive challenges due to its complex presentation and high symptom variability.” the manufacturer of the app and scientist – Professor George Roussos says.

From what we can hear from the creators of the app it seems like a perfect idea. Fewer people are needed from medical staff, so they can focus on other patients, it is easier and quicker than the traditional way. Additionally, people do not have to leave the house for this specyfic reason, which might be big facilitation for sick people, especially in the times of a global pandemic. However, we have to remember, that there are also significant disadvantages to such an option. One of them is that it is not 100% effective, which might be a reason for further unconvinced and danger for patients health and life. Secondly, it is not always accessible, especially for older people, who do not know how to use such an app or do not have a smartphone. Also, some sick people can no longer use such solutions, as, as they shouldn’t be responsible for such checks since they are sick and might forger/not be able to.

And what do you think? Do you think that providing such solutions is making our life’s easier, or it only brings confusion and low accuracy?


  1. 2021. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 3 January 2021].
  2. National Institute on Aging. 2021. Parkinson’s Disease. [online] Available at: <’s%20disease%20is%20a%20brain,and%20get%20worse%20over%20time.> [Accessed 3 January 2021].
  3. 2021. Redirect Notice. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 3 January 2021].

18 shops in south of England using Facewatch system to prevent shoplifting

Reading Time: 3 minutesStart-up Facewatch created the system which alerts workers if it sees someone entering the store who had a record of theft or anti-social behaviour.

Already 18 branches of co-op food stores in the south of England have tried the system. However many concerns aroseFacial recognition in a shop privacy issues. Privacy International have questioned whether the data is shared with the police and about the legality of the technologies which are being used in the stores.
No public announcement was made when the system was introduced to those 18 shops. This has left privacy advocates with concerns whether those shops can justify the use of Facewatch programme.

Last year, it was reported the firm was on the verge of signing data-sharing deals with the Metropolitan Police and the City of London police, and was in talks with constabularies in Hampshire and Sussex.1



Director of civil rights group Big Brother Watch, Silkie Carlo, said: “To see a supposedly ethical company secretly using rights-abusive tech like facial recognition on its customers in the UK is deeply chilling.
“This surveillance is well-known to suffer from severe inaccuracy and biases, leading to innocent people being wrongly flagged and put on criminal databases.
“Live facial recognition is more commonly seen in dictatorships than democracies. This is a serious error of judgement by Southern Co-op and we urge them to drop these Big Brother-style cameras immediately.” 2Co-op shop

You may ask yourself in what way the program is recognizing people on the “blacklist”, who had a record of shoplifting?

CCTV images made by cameras in the shops are converted into the numerical data. Then it is compared with a watchlist of criminals and looks for a match. If the result is positive, workers in such a shop get a notification on their smartphones.
“The system alerts our store teams immediately when someone enters their store who has a past record of theft or anti-social behaviour,” Gareth Lewis says.

Facial recognition technique has demonstrated controversial, along with legal issues regarding privacy infringement, with 
questions on how well it identifies darker colours of skin. In August, in lawsuit filed by human rights campaigner, 
the use of equipment by British police forces was found unconstitutional. Ithe US, major tech corporations such as Amazon and IBM have halted its use of police facial recognition tools to allow 
policymakers to discuss regulations about how to deploy it.
In my opinion, introducing such a program is a huge technology development. However, I think that before allowing shops for using it, few things should be explained and looked after as it is a highly controversial topic.
All of the customers and workers should be informed before the technology is used. Even though, we all know that shoplifting is illegal, and checking it should not be explained, here shops are scanning customers faces in order to prevent it.
When such technology is introduced, all of the safety and ethical issues should be talked through with specialists in this area. Also, I think that there should be tests of the program in many different situations with different coloured skin people in order to make sure everything is working as good as the intentions were while making the program.
1. BBC News. 2020. Co-Op Facial Recognition Trial Raises Privacy Concerns. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 10 December 2020].
2. BBC News. 2020. Co-Op Facial Recognition Trial Raises Privacy Concerns. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 10 December 2020].
Used websites:
BBC News. 2020. Co-Op Facial Recognition Trial Raises Privacy Concerns. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 10 December 2020].
Burgess, M., 2020. Co-Op Is Using Facial Recognition Tech To Scan And Track Shoppers. [online] WIRED UK. Available at: <> [Accessed 10 December 2020].

AI taking more and more jobs? New system answering phone calls in restaurants now available.

Reading Time: 3 minutesA new startup “Kea” invented a program which is using artificial intelligence. It will give restaurants an opportunity for upgrading taking orders. 

“Today, Kea is announcing that it has raised a $10 million Series A led by Marbruck with participation from Streamlined Ventures, Xfund, Heartland Ventures, DEEPCORE, Barrel Ventures and AVG Funds, as well as angel investors Raj Kapoor (chief strategy officer at Lyft), Craig Flom (who was on the founding team at Panera Bread), Wingstop franchisee Tony Lam and Five Guys franchisee Jonathan Kelly.” 1

Often restaurants do not manage to hire staff for less important tasks, which one of them could be answering the phone. Most of us experienced (especially in pandemic times) calling the restaurant and waiting unnecessary amount of time waiting for someone to take our order. Founder of Kea – Adam Ahmad seemed to find the solution for this problem.

The program which Kea introduced is based on an idea, in which the “virtual cashier” will do the initial intake with customers and process the orders. If needed, it can also bring a human employee. It looks like a perfect idea, but the experience might not be as satisfying as the company describes it. Often banks or private health care providers are using such systems on daily basis, and sometimes customers have to struggle with problems while using it. However, Ahmad claims, that most of the existing systems are not smart, and Kea’s AI do not have such problems, as it is strictly focused on ordering food in restaurants.

As customers, we all know that most of the programs that are making our lives harder, in general, should work perfectly, instead, they do the opposite. How Kea will manage the problems with such service if other companies seem to still could not improve it? Unfortunately, there is no specific answer provided by the company yet.


Adam Ahmad says: “We’re doing a very closed domain,”, “In the pizza world, there are only a couple thousand permutations. We’re not innovating for the whole dictionary — it’s a constrained model, it’s a menu.”

On the official website of Kea ( potential customers have the opportunity of checking the demo by themselves.

Some of the restaurants that are already using the system are Papa John’s, Donatos and Primanti Brothers. Overall, those restaurants claim that they recommend the system and it actually saves them (on average) 10 hours of work per week. This provides a 23% increase (on average) order size. The companies goal is to bring Kea to 1000 restaurants in the United States across 37 states, which might happen in 2021.


The idea is great, but would it actually help us, as customers, or will it only help restaurants with the problem of understaffing? And most importantly, if more companies will introduce such programs, wouldn’t that mean that fewer people are hired? Every time the Artificial Intelligence is used for new tasks, some people might lose their jobs. In this case, it seems to be a perfect solution for companies, which either way would not hire extra people for such a specific task such as answering the phone. However, what will happen to people who have such a position, and the company will decide to switch to the system using AI? 2020. Techcrunch Is Now A Part Of Verizon Media. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 November 2020].

sources: 2020. Techcrunch Is Now A Part Of Verizon Media. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 November 2020].

ZoomInfo. 2020. Kea Cloud – Overview, News & Competitors | Zoominfo.Com. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 November 2020]. 2020. Kea.Ai. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 November 2020].