An APPle a Day
Mobile diagnostics use smartphones to realize DIY healthcare
Tech / 22 Jul 2011
Considering Gen Y's love of all things DIY, the rampant popularity of checking symptoms on sites like WebMD is no surprise. Now, an even more convenient form of self-examination is gaining momentum—smartphone apps and tools that offer medical diagnoses. From detecting signs of a stroke to identifying malaria markers, these tools stand to alter the face of healthcare indelibly.
Blood Pressure Apps:
After the over-hyped coverage of Carmageddon, Angelenos are breathing easy. But for those still concerned about hypertension, iPhone tools iHealth and Withings Blood Pressure Monitor offer a traffic-ready solution. When used with proprietary arm cuffs, the apps measure blood pressure and heart rate, then automatically graph the information onto the user’s phone. The data can be linked to medical record sites like Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault as a means of expediting communication between patients and doctors. What’s more, the Withings system elevates the ethos of “I am what I share” to new levels by providing the option to post results on Facebook or Twitter.
Skin Scan:
A bronzy glow is a nice summer accent, but the importance of preventative skincare shouldn’t be overshadowed. A good SPF 15+ is a must, but another source for skin protection is Skin Scan, an iPhone app that identifies potential melanomas and suggests whether or not they warrant visiting a dermatologist. After taking a picture of a mole, the program scans the size, color and shape of the blemish, then uses an algorithm to determine whether it poses any possible risk. Images can be tracked so that any potentially threatening changes can be spotted. If a lesion seems questionable, the app generates a list of recommended nearby doctors who can provide a more thorough assessment.
“Our eye is a mirror of our health,” explains Ramesh Raskar, Associate Professor of MIT Media Lab Camera Culture. With that in mind, Raskar and his researchers developed CATRA, a prototype cataract detection system consisting of a mobile app and smartphone clip-on attachment. When looking through the device's eyepiece, the individual eyes a series of lines. If the image appears cloudy, the user presses a button to begin a scan of their lens. Based on the size, shape and density of the cloudy areas, CATRA delivers a diagnosis in minutes. With the clip-on attachment priced at just $1, the goal is to provide the instrument to developing countries that lack affordable optical care.
©The Intelligence Group