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Tech That Disrupts Our Lives for the Better

Stocks in this article: FB AOL OSUR GHDX NFLX AMZN

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- For many, it's difficult to go a day without checking Facebook (FB) or reading the latest posts on a favorite blog or pinning a cool picture. Today, losing your smartphone is just as bad as losing your car keys.

It was pretty much the same a decade ago. Only the names have changed. We checked AOL (AOL), read the newspaper, emailed photos and lost cellphones.

Many products and companies we once relied on daily have pretty much vanished (also see Life-Changing Tech's Fall From Glory). Some, like Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG) and (AMZN) continue to grab our attention and have us wanting to try something new. Others are waiting to emerge.

So who or what is leading the way? That, of course, is anyone's educated guess. But here are some companies and markets to remember.

Self-Diagnosis Kits

Already you can choose from multiple mobile apps to figure out what that weird growth is on your toe or what the sound of your cough indicates. As for accuracy? Most apps add the education-only disclaimer. The trend toward a more accurate, home-based self diagnosis is gaining momentum in order to combat rising medical costs and health insurance rates.

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first rapid, take-home HIV test, the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test from OraSure Technologies (OSUR). The $40 kit produces a result within 40 minutes. Mode Diagnostics in the U.K. is hoping to soon start selling a self-testing colon-cancer kit. It's not that we won't need doctors anymore but it's about the availability of affordable self-testing kits combined with better communication that could speed up or eliminate actual doctor visits and lower our medical costs.

Genetic testing

Now that the human genome has been mapped, figuring out what sort of good and bad traits are carried by a person's DNA is already being used to combat potential health issues. One University of California research team is studying test kits from Genomic Health (GHDX) to see if genetic testing could prevent overtreatment of prostate cancer by gauging its aggressiveness. As prices drop, genetic testing will become more accessible and help predict future health issues.

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