Something I dig about our current tech era is how we're all enjoying the fruits of a widespread democratization of digital technology (For more on this, check out Steven Kotler's six tenets of exponential entrepreneurship). The barriers to tech access that once existed have disappeared; anyone can now create their own digital products and services.
More important, anyone armed with a smart device can access those products and services, thus triggering demand for any and all sorts of new innovations. This is where companies like Uber and Airbnb came from, as well as the staggering and sudden ubiquity of social media. But what's most fascinating is how you can acquire just about anything you need through digital technology.
Take dermatological advice, for example. Last year, I wrote about an app called Spruce, which allows smartphone users to upload acne photos and set up low-cost digital meetings with board-certified dermatologists. It's a cool model for disruption that places the whole, old ritual of office visits on a pedestal so we can all gawk at it and ask, "Why?" Surely there's a better way of doing things than the way we've been doing them. Disruptive technologies offer those alternatives.
But not all fancy new smartphone apps represent disruptions. Sometimes they're an innovative step in a previously undeveloped direction. Sticking with dermatology, there's Intelligent Skin MD, a new app that takes into account your current location to offer data-driven, personalized skincare recommendations. It's the work of Wall Street Dermatology's Dr. Julia Tzu, and it provides a service that didn't exist before (unless you've got a dermatologist-meteorologist hybrid on call 24/7).
Similar to how Yelp can use your current location to tell you where the best local fish & chips are (McNulty's, naturally), Intelligent Skin MD steers you toward the best possible regimen for keeping your skin healthy in whatever weather heads your way. It's a pretty smart idea that should appeal to all those tech-connected skincare disciples.
Services like Spruce and Intelligent Skin MD couldn't have existed five to 10 years ago. Yet suddenly they're just part of a larger wave of health-focused apps made possible and feasible by the exponential growth of smartphone technology. It'll be interesting to see what sorts of copycat apps follow in their stead — whether we see similar services emerge for on-call dentistry or psychiatry or gynecology (okay, probably not that last one).
Below, Silicon Valley scholar Vivek Wadhwa ponders some of the business and social sectors we should expect to see disrupted by rapidly expanding technologies:
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