A smartphone camera that takes your pulse and an iPhone app to diagnose STDs: the most innovative stories from the world of wellness.
PSFK has partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim to bring you a snapshot of Five Innovative Ideas each week that are reshaping the health care industry. Continue reading below for the most exciting ideas from the past seven days.
Researcher at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine are experimenting with a new type of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) that could enable doctors to detect a number of diseases in a matter of minutes. Unlike traditional MRIs, the new technique, Magnetic Resonance Fingerprinting (MRF) works by generating the same field across multiple frequencies simultaneously and using software algorithms to decode the results. While MRIs “sing” a single tone with respect to specific diseases, MRFs generate a rich harmony that can distinguish between multiple tissue properties. Researchers believe they could develop a “songbook” of diseases that will allow doctors to identify diseases based on their tone. Scientists scanned a patient’s brain with MRF and were able to tell the difference between gray and white matter in around 12 seconds, and believe the same results could be obtained faster in the future.
Fujitsu Laboratories have introduced a camera technology that can read a user’s pulse- just by measuring changes in brightness in a person’s face. Smartphones, computers, and tablets equipped with cameras can determine the user’s pulse in as little as 5 seconds. The camera detects changes in blood flow; hemoglobin absorbs green light, which results in minute changes in brightness in the face. Using this data, the pulse is calculated, making it even easier to keep track of your health.
Dartmouth scientists have created a wearable, portable sensor that can detect and measure secondhand tobacco smoke. The sensor consists of a polymer film that measures the smoke in the environment down to the number of cigarettes smoked, and a chip to record data like when and where the exposure took place. Even more remarkably, the sensor can also detect thirdhand smoke, which consists of nicotine emitted from things like clothing or upholstery. Still in the prototype phase, the sensor is about the size of a smartphone, but the scientists hope to develop a wearable version that can ultimately be used as a way of enforcing smoking bans and showing smokers exactly how much of their smoke is reaching those around them.
STD Triage is an iPhone app that uses photo submissions, symptom description, and sexual history to diagnose possible STDs. The company, iDoc24, created the app as an option for those people who may be reluctant to initially consult their doctor. After users submit their information, the request is assessed by a licensed dermatologist who responds within 24 hours. The app and submissions are free, but users pay $10 to read the assessment. Following that, users can use STD Triage to locate nearby treatment facilities. While the app includes useful information on a variety of conditions, it can only diagnose issues with external symptoms.
Chemists at the University of Bath have created a prototype sensor that would flash an alert when Toxic Shock Syndrome or other infections are detected on a burn wound. The prototype sensor is integrated into the dressing that releases dye from nanocapsules when when it detects the presence of disease causing bacteria. The sensor glows under UV light if the burn is detected, giving doctors an easy and simple way to test for infections. This innovation is targeted especially at children, but could be useful for any burn patient.
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