Google's new AI tool wants to diagnose your skin conditions

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Google Search Image (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • A new AI tool coming from Google wants to be your first port of call for skin conditions.
  • The tool uses your camera to diagnose your skin against multiple known skin conditions. It also gives users a baseline for healthy skin across different tones.
  • It's certified as a class medical device in the EU and Google hopes to launch it later in the year.

Google is working on a new AI-powered web tool that'll help you figure out what that weird thing on your skin is, the company announced at I/O this week. It will become available later in the year, Google hopes, and will help diagnose skin conditions via photos of your skin. The company has fine-tuned its AI with "65,000 images and case data of diagnosed skin conditions, millions of curated skin concern images, and thousands of examples of healthy skin — all across different demographics." In other words, Google's trying to be inclusive with this, addressing skin tone bias in medical triage.

Explaining how this would work in practice, the Google team said:

Once you launch the tool, simply use your phone's camera to take three images of the skin, hair, or nail concern from different angles. You'll then be asked questions about your skin type, how long you've had the issue, and other symptoms that help the tool narrow down the possibilities. The AI model analyzes this information and draws from its knowledge of 288 conditions to give you a list of possible matching conditions that you can then research further.

Google doesn't intend for you to use it as a replacement for a doctor, and most doctors would rather you didn't anyway. Dr. Google, as it's jokingly known, has been linked to a rise in cyberchrondria (aka Googling until your detergent allergy turns into skin cancer). Of course, if people are going to use 'Dr. Google' anyway, it would make sense for the company to work on increasing its accuracy. Google says that its AI has achieved "accuracy that is on par with U.S. board-certified dermatologists", so it should be pretty good as a stop-gap measure. If all else fails, there's always Google's anxiety self-assessment tool.

If this does launch, you should expect to see it in Europe first and not in the U.S., which Google notes it has not yet been FDA certified.

Michael Allison