Imagine a cell phone that could save your life. Sure, it’s there for calling your mother at three minutes to midnight when you’ve nearly missed her birthday, or taking those all-important self-portraits while on vacation. But imagine a cell phone that could transmit medical information to doctors or hospitals as quickly and easily as sending text messages. Sounds like science fiction, but innovations like this are coming to life today
1. Cell phone Microscope
UCLA electrical engineering professor Aydogan Ozcan is on the cutting edge of the new “cell phone as life-saving device” technology. Using an ordinary SonyEricsson phone, and adding less than $50 in off-the-shelf parts, Professor Ozcan has developed a device that can produce an image showing the cells within a small sample of fluid, such as water or even human blood. This could help in monitoring the condition of HIV and malaria patients, or testing water quality in undeveloped areas or disaster zones.
That gives a whole new meaning to the term “smart phone.”
How about a heart monitor that relies on a cell phone to analyze a patient’s readings and contacts 911 emergency services if that person’s cardiac activity veers into the danger zone? Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh, in conjunction with Microsoft are working on this. Such a cell phone would not only provide emergency responders with the location of the patient, but also provide vital preliminary diagnosis information so they’re ready and able to help on arrival.
4. Cell Phone as Smart Band Aid
A startup called Gentag wants to decrease the frequency of medical errors.Â It’s developing disposable wireless Band-Aids containing radio frequency identification chips to transmitÂ information to a cell phone. When a patient is about to receive a drug from a medical technician, the Band-Aid can warn if that patient is allergic to it. The Band-Aids will also enable a phone to monitor a patient’s temperature or glucose levels, alerting medical personnel if there’s a spike.
5.Cell Phone as Ultrasound Machine
St. Louis-based Washington University engineers are pairing USB-based ultrasound probe technology with a smartphoneÂ Â Smartphone-compatible USB ultrasound probes will soon be able to image the kidney, liver, bladder and eyes, as well as endocavity probes for prostate and uterine screenings and biopsies. More then that, it will greatly increase pre-natal quality of care in developing countries.
Some of these innovations sound like they come straight out of Star Trek, but this technology has been with us for years.Â Not only will we be able to keep a handle on our schedules and address books, but we will be able to monitor our healthÂ as well. Cell phones are quickly morphing from lifestyle accessories to life-saving necessities.
What’s next for Cell Phones? Researchers tell us we can expect genetic testing, blood screening, and even more advanced imaging such as MRI on cell phones within the next few years. It’s all a matter of research, time, and technology.