Internet of Things search engine lets you plug into the connected city

A location search engine for sensors and other connected devices is enabling users to access data about the world around them.

Dubbed a “search engine for Internet of Things”, map-based Thingful is currently in Beta, and is designed for use by developers, researchers and the data curious.

“I’m trying to achieve a world of connected objects sharing real-time data,” explained Usman Haque, founder and CEO of Thingful, during a talk about the project at the Open Data Institute Summit 2015 held yesterday in London.

A variety of devices, from weather stations to radiation monitors, have been posting data online for some time – in some case years – but finding this information has proved difficult.

“It’s already here, it’s just hard to find,” said Haque. “Google is not set up to index that type of data.”

Thingful aims to tackle that gap. It doesn’t yet have an api, but it does allow developers to find data sources, follow different sensors through a Watchlist and embed interactive maps known as Thingful views. There’s also an option to view selected data about a mapview, known as Thingful Insights.

Environmental and experimental devices are abundant, but there are also traffic monitors, soil readings and home monitoring data, as well as a smattering of health data.

“We index millions of devices from across the world and from across the data section,” he said.

It’s a strong resource for researchers, journalists and educators, to name a few. For Haque, however, it is also a means of democratising our city, by providing people with greater knowledge about the world around them.

“We can use the Internet of Things to make decisions together, to make sense of our homes and cities together,” he said.

“We’re not just building a search engine for the Internet of Things, we’re trying to balance the discoverability and ownership of IoT data.”

Its creators are working on an api for Thingful so that developers will be able to directly feed data into their projects and applications, however they also want to encourage more people to provide data for the Internet of Things.

“Over the next few months our priority is working with data providers,” said Haque.

Thingful is one of many projects by Umbrellium, a company made up of “architects, designers, tactical urbanists and creative technologists” that develops tools designed to encourage citizen engagement in cities.

Other projects include an AR app for visualising environmental data, an operating system for public spaces and an easy to use prototyping platform for wearables.

New research claims a video game can improve doctors’ ability to recognise severe trauma in patients

New research has concluded a specifically-designed video game improves doctors’ ability to recognise when patients need to be transferred to a severe trauma centre.

The research, by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and published today in the BMJ, revealed the game Night Shift was better at preparing doctors to recognise patients who needed higher levels of care than reading traditional educational materials.

This was the case even though doctors who were made to play the game, in which doctors play as a fictitious, young emergency physician treating severe trauma patients, enjoyed it less than those who were asked to read relevant materials.

“Physicians must make decisions quickly and with incomplete information. Each year, 30,000 preventable deaths occur after injury, in part because patients with severe injuries who initially present to non-trauma centres are not promptly transferred to a hospital that can provide appropriate care,” said the game’s creator Deepika Mohan, MD, MPH and assistant professor in Pitt’s departments of Critical Care Medicine and Surgery.

“An hour of playing the video game recalibrated physicians’ brains to such a degree that, six months later, they were still out-performing their peers in recognising severe trauma.”

Night Shift was designed by Mohan to tap into the part of the brain that uses pattern recognition and previous experience to make snap decisions by using subconscious mental shortcuts – a process called heuristics.

Doctors in non-trauma centres typically see only about one severe trauma per 1,000 patients. As a result, their heuristic abilities can become skewed toward obvious injuries such as gunshot wounds, and miss equally severe traumas such as internal injuries from falls.

On average, 70% of severely injured patients who present to non-trauma centres are under-triaged and not transferred to trauma centres as recommended by clinical practice.

“There are many reasons beyond the doctor’s heuristics as to why a severe trauma patient wouldn’t be transferred to a trauma centre, ranging from not having an ambulance available to a lack of proper diagnostic tools,” said Mohan.

“So, it is important to emphasize that recalibrating heuristics won’t completely solve the under-triage problem and that the problem isn’t entirely due to physicians’ diagnostic skills. But it’s heartening to know we’re on track to develop a game that shows promise at improving on current educational training.”

For the study, Mohan recruited 368 physicians from across the US who did not work at hospitals specialising in severe trauma. Half were assigned to play the game and half were asked to spend at least an hour reading the educational materials.

Participants then responded to questionnaires and completed a simulation that tested how often they “under-triaged,” or failed to send severe trauma patients to hospitals with the resources necessary to handle them.

Physicians who played the game under-triaged 53% of the time, compared with 64% for those who read the educational materials.

Six months later, Mohan reassessed the physicians and found that the effect of the game persisted, with those who played the game under-triaging 57% of the time, compared to 74% for those who had read the educational materials.

Multimedia courtesy of Schell Games.

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