This new app tells you when your neighbour has the flu

While a chorus of coughs on the subway can advise you to break out the Purell, what about all the colds making their way silently into your path?

Fortunately HEALTHYDAY, a new app from Johnson & Johnson, has come up with a way for us to crowdsource our hypochondria.

Mashable reports that the app’s algorithm combines data from doctor’s offices, Google searches, and mentions on social media, and then uses that data to tell you when to freak out.

The most prominent feature in the app is the location-based warning meters for allergies, cold, and flu. Although telling you when the allergy level is high is a bit like telling you it’s already raining.

If you so choose, you can break down the data further, moving into the map itself to see the actual incidents, and where and when they occurred.

“We’re looking to transform what’s sort of a search-and-confusion mentality to discovering what’s going on with your sniffles to really getting a content-first, actionable information second,” Eric Weisberg, executive creative director at ad agency JWT New York, told Mashable.

Weisberg compares it to apps like Waze, which uses crowd-sourced traffic information to enhance a traditional “maps” experience. Except where Waze uses accidents, HEALTHYDAY uses coughs.

While the app right now is used for ailments like the common cold, the implication of putting public health information into the hands of everyday people goes much further. With anonymous reports of specific illnesses, you could imagine a future version of this app telling you about outbreaks of more serious diseases than the flu. But maybe then we would all never leave our houses.

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