Emerging Tech Tells You What That Cough Really Means [Future Of Health]

Emerging Tech Tells You What That Cough Really Means [Future Of Health]

Consumer-friendly products are giving everyday people to power to diagnose their health issues and know when to seek care.

  • 3 march 2014

Maybe that sore throat is just the result of late night out in a loud bar, but what if it’s really the first sign of the flu? A wave of new technologies are helping patients translate their symptoms into reliable diagnoses, giving them the added reassurance of knowing what they can ignore and when they need to seek further care.

In the latest Future of Health report from PSFK Labs’ has uncovered innovative devices that aim to put the power of diagnosis in the hands of the patient. This trend of DIY Diagnosis delves into sensors and mobile technology that allow everyday people to better understand what sickness may ail them and what next steps they should take. Below we’ve included some of the most innovate technologies that endeavor to give people the power to learn more about their own health.


uChek is a mobile application that allows anyone to easily check their urine for signs of a number of different diseases. Created by Mumbai-based TED-fellow Myshkin Ingawale, the app aims to replace invasive blood tests and the large and expensive machines that are currently used to scan urine samples, putting the power of diagnosis in the hands of consumers. For $20 patients can download the app and receive a pack of chemical strips that change color when dipped into a urine sample. After a picture of the strip is taken with a smartphone, the app quickly analyzes the results based on the color of the strip, producing accurate and easy-to-understand results. The process is capable of detecting 10 different key parameters and levels of glucose, proteins and nitrites, among other chemicals, that can indicate the presence of 25 different medical conditions. Mobile urine checking could facilitate medical help in regions where on-site testing resources are limited, as well as enable patients to accurately diagnose themselves.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 5.27.37 PM

The Scanadu Scout is a handheld device that can capture vital signs and relay them to a mobile phone for consistent tracking and monitoring. By holding the Scout device to a temple with forefinger and thumb, users can scan for body temperature, oxygen levels and heartbeat, with EKGs, EEGs, and blood-pressure measurements among other health telltales. Since the round plastic handheld scanner does not have a screen, it relates data to its companion mobile application to visualize the measurements. Given the device’s small size and simple interface, the creators hope that the device will expand the tracking of general health in such a way that anyone can use it to notice trends and causal effects in their health on a daily basis. Medical professionals and nonprofessionals could also use the tool to regularly check on vitals during illnesses.

Kinsa Health Map

NYC company Kinsa has an oral thermometer that connects to the user’s smartphone, capturing their temperature and mapping out other recorded symptoms and illnesses that exist nearby. The device is used like a regular thermometer and uses the headphone jack of an iPhone to transmit the temperature data to the mobile application. The application is able to compile a personal illness history as well as see the local ‘health weather’ that can help gives users clues as to possible illnesses in the area that may be afflicting them too. Users are able to create groups based on close-knit friends, family and co-workers to keep track on their health or track the origin of sickness from people that they are in close contact with. When used in scale the device can give a greater level of certainty of what illness they may have, and can guide themselves to a doctor or self medicate for less severe illnesses.

The new class of consumer-facing medical devices are part of a larger theme we’re calling Empowered Patient, which looks at how access to information and technology is helping people take a more active role in understanding and managing their personal health.

With the help of our partner Boehringer Ingelheim, PSFK Labs has released the latest Future of Health Report, which highlights the four major themes and 13 emerging trends shaping the evolving global landscape of healthcare. To see more insights and thoughts on the Future of Health visit the PSFK page.

Contributed by: Wesley Robison

Image via: Redorbit

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