In Brief

Senosis' apps use your phone's sensors to check pulmonary function and hemoglobin counts

For those with limited access to medical services, one of the biggest challenges is getting screened for certain potentially life-threatening ailments. Shwetak Patel, a computer scientist at the University of Washington, wants to make this easier with a device most people already have: their phone. Senosis Health, a startup co-founded by Patel, has a number of apps its testing that use smartphones (and some not-so-smart phones) in unique ways for various medical applications.

HemaApp, for instance, measures hemoglobin in the blood using a smartphone’s camera, which could help to detect conditions such as anemia, malnutrition, and pulmonary illnesses, all of which impact hemoglobin levels. By removing the need for expensive and timely blood draws, HemaApp delivers immediate results and alleviates concerns about sample contamination or infection.

Spirosmart, meanwhile, measures lung function by having patients blow into a phone’s microphone, replacing an expensive dedicated spirometer for diagnosing and managing asthma, cystic fibrosis and other pulmonary diseases. SpiroCall, a related project for low-resource areas where smartphone access is limited, turns any phone (smart or not) into a spirometer through a toll-free calling service.

Finally, there is Bilicam, a new alternative for detecting newborn jaundice, a condition which can lead to brain damage and death, using a smartphone’s camera. Instead of looking for “yellowness” in the skin, the camera and flash together measure the amount of bilirubin in the blood by examining wavelengths of light absorbed by the skin. This app enables parents and providers to screen before involving a specialist, minimizing painful or frequent blood tests.

All three apps are currently undergoing FDA clinical testing, and if approved, will be primary focuses for Senosis.

Senosis Health

For those with limited access to medical services, one of the biggest challenges is getting screened for certain potentially life-threatening ailments. Shwetak Patel, a computer scientist at the University of Washington, wants to make this easier with a device most people already have: their phone. Senosis Health, a startup co-founded by Patel, has a number of apps its testing that use smartphones (and some not-so-smart phones) in unique ways for various medical applications.

HemaApp, for instance, measures hemoglobin in the blood using a smartphone’s camera, which could help to detect conditions such as anemia, malnutrition, and pulmonary illnesses, all of which impact hemoglobin levels. By removing the need for expensive and timely blood draws, HemaApp delivers immediate results and alleviates concerns about sample contamination or infection.