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Research briefs

Safety questioned in hands-free texting apps

An article in the November issue of Scientific American revealed a surprising twist to the popularity concerning hands-free texting apps, such as Voice Text Pro and DriveSafe.ly. Developers assumed that, since drivers would not need to take their eyes off the road to use them, these apps would be a step towards greater safety.

Although talking on the phone while driving is not a safe idea, it isn’t solely the dexterity associated with handling a phone that causes accidents. Rather, what is concerning is the fact that the driver’s concentration is divided.

What does this mean for hands-free texting? A study released this past April by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute proved the assumptions of this so-called “safer” practice wrong. The experiment looked at three different groups: drivers texting by hand, drivers texting hands-free, and drivers that were not texting at all.  The results of the study indicated that there was no difference between the first two groups of texters, reporting, “response times were significantly delayed no matter which texting method was used.”  Case in point, hands-free texting is definitely not a safer alternative, and these apps are no exception.


 App developed to dispell surgery fears

The Montreal Children’s Hospital hopes to help ward off fears of children’s first surgeries with the release of the app My First Surgery. The app is works on iPads and is currently free to download on iTunes.

My First Surgery is geared towards both children and adults who are about to undergo surgery for the first time. Developed by pediatric surgeon Robert Baird, there are two components to the app: an interactive child view that features bright colours and computer animation, and a parent view that provides further information on the surgery.

The app begins by asking the child how they feel about surgery, with which the child can choose between various teddy bears labeled with different emotions: “all cool,” “curious,” “scared,” or “confused.” Next, a new screen pops up and a cartoon surgeon explains to the child what will occur in the operating room.

According to the Montreal Gazette, the app features instructional videos for patients that provide information about the necessary preparations for surgery, such as blood tests or fasting.

“I felt that this app would be the kind of tool that would augment things just a little bit more, maybe in some small way decrease the anxiety of both the kids and the families,” Baird told the Montreal Gazette.

Though currently available in English, the app will be translated into French, and made compatible with iPhones and Android devices.


Scitech calendar 

International Research in Science and Engineering: Information session

Learn more about finding undergraduate international research positions and hear from other Science and Engineering students about their international research experiences.

November 6th, 4:30 p.m. in Adams Building, Room 5

Annual BASiC Semi-Formal: The Great Gatsby 

Nov. 9th,  9 p.m. – Nov. 10th 2 p.m. at Thomson House

Science Graduate and Professional Schools Fair 

Nov. 13th from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. in the SSMU Ballroom

McGill Science Games Hype Night

Nov. 14th, 9 p.m. – 11 p.m. Bracelets will be on sale this week.

Osteopathic Medicine in Canada

Join second-year medical students from Michigan State University (MUS) for a presentation on becoming a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) Speakers include McGill Alumni and class of 2016 President, Bo Pang.

Nov. 15th, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. in Leacock, Room 219 

Medical Direction’s Annual Wine & Cheese

Join Medical Direction for an evening where you have the opportunity to talk to professors, application advisors and current medical students. Check out their website for upcoming information on ticket sales.

Nov. 19th, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. at Thomson House Ballroom

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