Using the built-in camera, the HemaApp estimates hemoglobin concentration and screens for blood conditions that can sometimes go undiagnosed

Blood tests can help diagnose and manage a number of conditions, and a team of electrical engineers, computer scientists and researchers at the University of Washington set out to come up with an alternative to drawing blood. The team developed an app called HemaApp that uses the phone’s built-in light and camera to monitor blood hemoglobin concentration by looking at the color of blood passing through a finger.

Simply place a finger over the camera lens while running the app. The app then turns on the nearby LED light to shine light through the finger–the camera can detect specific features that point to the concentration of hemoglobin and other blood components like plasma.

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