Google Lens, the image search application, now offers fairly reliable information on skin problems, thanks to its DermAssist tool, whether it’s a rash, a mole or even a rash. pimple on the lip.
The Mountain View firm has been exploring AI image recognition for skin conditions for years. It was in 2021, during its I/O conference for developers, that the giant presented its tool capable of recognizing 288 different skin problems, with a proposal right among the first three suggestions in 84% of cases. Rather not bad!
DermAssist is not a medical device (yet)
In its blog post, Google states that it “just take a photo or upload a photo via Lens” in order to find “visual matches to inform your search“. With nearly 300 reference skin conditions, you can submit a mole, a pimple, a defect on a nail or even a problem on the scalp.
However, Google specifies that the results offered are “only informative and not a diagnosis“. At this time, DermAssist is being tested for limited release; if it is CE marked as a class 1 medical device in Europe, it has not yet been evaluated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administrationfor Federal Food and Drug Administration) of the United States.
Obviously, one can be skeptical about the real effectiveness of the tool, especially with regard to black skin. In 2021, The Guardian published a study highlighting the lack of data on certain skin types, so that AIs lacked training for dark skin. However, Google last year partnered with Harvard professor Ellis Monk, who developed the scale “Monk Skin Tone Scale(which can be translated as Scale of Monk’s skin tones).
The Mountain View firm claims that its teams used this scale to train its artificial intelligence and that its system was even more precise in identifying skin conditions in black patients: DermAssist achieved an accuracy of 87.9% for them. And of course, Google worked with dermatologists to determine the best thumbnails for identified skin conditions.
If the tool makes it possible to obtain a first answer concerning a skin problem, it does not prevent that it is preferable to contact a health professional, whether it is his general practitioner or a dermatologist.
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