Billions of times every year, people turn to the Google site look up box to help her understand what’s wrong with her skin. Now, Google is preparing to launch an app that adopts image recognition algorithms to provide more experienced and personalized help. A short demo at the company’s developer conference last month showed the service suggesting several possible skin pathologies based on the photos uploaded.
Cars have associated o overcome dermatologists experts in studies in which algorithms and doctors scrutinize images of past patients. But there is little evidence from clinical trials employing such technology, and there are approved AI image analysis tools for dermatologists to use in the United States, says Roxana Daneshjou, a Stanford dermatologist and researcher in automatic learning and health. “A lot of people don’t push themselves in the real world,” she says.
Google’s new app isn’t even clinically validated, but the company’s AI prudence and the recent buildup of its healthcare division make its AI dermatology app remarkable. However, skin service will begin small — and far from its home ground and the largest U.S. market. The service is unlikely to analyze American skin defects for some time.
At the developers ’conference, Karen DeSalvo, head of health at Google, said the company aims to launch what it calls a dermatology care tool in the European Union just later this year. An application video suggesting that a mark on someone’s arm might be a mole featured a caption saying it was an approved medical device in the EU. The same note added a caveat: “Not available in the United States.”
The America-not-before-society strategy highlights how it may be easier to gain approval for medical applications in Europe than in the United States. A Google spokesman said the company would like to offer the service in the United States, but did not have a timetable on when it could cross the Atlantic; have declined to comment on whether Google has spoken with the U.S. Food and Medical Administration about the app, but acknowledged that the agency’s approval process may be longer.
She understands the traditional view of Silicon Valley in Europe as a landscape strewn with bureaucracy hostile to new ideas. Between 2012 and 2018, Facebook did not offer any facial recognition suggestions in the EU after a check by Ireland’s data regulator forced the company to deactivate the feature and cancel its European facial fingerprint store . Since 2014, Google has been obligated to allow EU citizens to request that old links on them be scanned by the company’s search engine under the “right to be forgotten. “
Google says its application for skin has been approved “CE Marked as a Class I Medical Device in the EU,” meaning it can be sold in bulk and in other countries that recognize that standard. The company would have had relatively few obstacles to ensuring such a liquidation, says Hugh Harvey, general manager of Hardian Health, a digital healthcare consultancy in the UK. “It essentially completes a module and self-certifies,” he says. Google’s conference last month took place a week before the EU’s stricter rules came into force as Harvey says they need several health apps, probably including Google, to prove an app is effective, among other things. Pre-existing applications have until 2025 to comply with the new rules.
Last month’s demo was brief, and the concept of the app isn’t final, but U.S. experts on AI health software say Google could face a more FDA-implicated lawsuit if it brings its app for skin. The FDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The concept shown in the demo requires a person to take three photos of their defect from different angles and distances. The user can optionally add information such as the affected body part and how long they have had the problem. Touching “Submit” still zips the image to Google. The app then displays “Suggested Conditions”, which shows the possible conditions illustrated by the images. Touching one comes up with a list of key information such as symptoms, contagion and treatment options. Google says the app has been formed on “hundreds of thousands of skin images” and can identify 288 conditions, including skin cancers, covering about 90 percent of common dermatology searches on the web.
The FDA exempts any health software that deems “lower risk” – such as “wellness” tips such as diabetes management or information about health symptoms – from the approval of medical devices. It requires approval from others, such as those offering specific diagnostics, or apps that function as medical devices such as a stethoscope. The line between applications that need liquidation and those that don’t is hard to pinpoint because medical software and the rules that govern it are relatively new.
Bradley Thompson, a regulatory advocate with Epstein Becker Green, asks customers a handful of key questions when trying to determine if they will need to sign an FDA. They include how the production of the software is presented to a person and whether a company makes specific medical claims.