Clever use of common smartphone sensors to recover health in

Research the universe. Expand humanity's knowledge.
User avatar
Baffled Boffin
Posts: 1624
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2004 1:58 pm
Location: Michigan Tech

Clever use of common smartphone sensors to recover health in

Post by RJN » Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:15 pm

I have seen or heard a few amazing stories recently about how smartphones can be useful as measuring devices. As some people might know, one of my pet peeves recently is that smartphones are used mostly as convenient display devices yet they have a myriad of amazing sensors that can be of more general scientific use. Here is a story about using a device attached to a smartphone to help detect malaria: ... -video.htm

Now this is great use for a smartphone, and of course I wish them well. But this usage needs a specific attachment to work. How many people will have this attachment? Likely a factor of 10,000 or so less than people who have a smartphone without the attachment. That brings up the question -- is there any reliable way to detect malaria (etc.) WITHOUT any attachment? Now this may take a good bit of cleverness, and even then will likely be nowhere near as sensitive as detection with an attachment -- but could it be useful? If so, then one might only need to download an app and follow directions to get a (hopefully) useful indication.

To start, it seems the malaria detector works partly by noting unusual darkness of the blood. Now many smartphones have camera flashes that can be turned on, and light detectors to boot. Can a smartphone be held up to a finger and then a mirror -- or another smartphone -- and some procedure followed that may give an indication of the clarity of a person's blood?

OK, another one involving heart problems. Note that I am not a medical doctor. Could a smartphone just be rested on the chest of a person who is worried about heart problems to see if their heart beat is any different than before? The accelerometer of the smartphone would be activated to record and determine the heart beat and rhythm, comparing it to baseline measurements taken at an earlier time.