Finding potential money spinning apps you could write isn’t easy, but perhaps you should be thinking more laterally. A startup called Sickweather is using the combination of social networking and illness to show you a local "illness" map.
The idea is that data that is publicly available on sites such as Facebook and Twitter will be used alongside info entered by Sickweather’s users to show what illnesses your friends are suffering so you can hopefully avoid them.
Users would log into the site (www.sickweather.com, currently in beta) and see an illness map of their local area, along with any updates their friends had made that mentioned being unwell.
The site’s developers say that
“This information is then used to forecast the movement of everything from stomach bugs to chronic illness and other sickness, including depression.
Registered Sickweather users will be able to harness this information with a bevy of fun, informative and interactive tools, including monitoring their own health and the health of their friends and family.”
You have to applaud their style - it’s not often the phrase ‘bevy of fun’ follows quite so closely on the heels of ‘sickness and depression’.
The website says:
Just as Doppler radar scans the skies for indicators of bad weather, Sickweather scans social networks for indicators of illness, allowing you to check for the chance of sickness as easily as you check for the chance of rain.
Future plans include mobile apps for the site so when the guy sitting opposite you on the train coughs, you can quickly assess the local level of health and really worry yourself.
Behind the scenes, Sickweather’s search engine looks for words that match various illnesses. The initial version looks for specific technical terms such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and according to the developers this brings up a lot of data. In the future the team plans to be able to check for symptoms rather than specific names of illnesses.
So will Sickweather’s founders be the next Internet billionaires?
Who knows, but you have to admire their ability to identify a market niche.