Tech Trends: Mobile Apps & Devices

Mobile Apps and Devices is a comprehensive listing of innovations within the field of mobile hardware or software technologies dedicated to the purpose of aiding healthcare professionals and students in their mission of providing better healthcare through study and interactivity.

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New Kinect Games Help Physical Therapy Patients

Close to 70% of patients requiring physical therapy are non-compliant with regard to home exercises. Simple movements such as arm flexes and sitting and standing are considered tedious by most patients, but it is these exercises that speed up recovery and prevent future injuries. Now, researchers from MIRA rehab have developed a series of games to be used with the Xbox Kinect to increase patient participation in rehabilitation exercises. The games are customizable, and therapists can work virtually with their clients, as well as check in on client activity. To watch developer Cosmin Mihaiu’s TED talk about the program

(Source: TED)

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Sierre Leone Ebola Team Receives Customized Tablet and EMR from Google

ebola-tabletTreating patients for Ebola in third world countries poses a host of conflicts. One of the more significant challenges facing doctors attempting to treat Ebola in Sierra Leone is that of keeping patient records. Any items that have been potentially exposed to the virus have to be treated with chlorine before leaving the quarantine area. This creates a problem for doctors trying to keep patient records as paper records and tablets must be kept inside of the quarantine area.

Now, Google has developed a specially sealed tablet that protects from viral germs, and can also wirelessly transmit data to computers outside of the isolation zone. Additionally, the package comes with an open source Electronic Medical Record (EMR) that facilitates the keeping of medical records in areas of outbreak.

(Source: medGadget)

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Apple’s Research Kit Allows Users to Contribute to Medical Research

apple-researchkitOne of the greatest challenges to medical research is the limited amount of sample groups available. Recruiting for medical studies is usually confined to fliers on a university campus or ads placed in newspapers. While this has been helpful in getting small sample groups for studies, most researchers feel that these samples are rarely representative of the general population. Now, Apple is developing an open source app known as ResearchKit which will allow users to volunteer information from existing iPhone software (GPS, microphone, accelerometer, etc) to participate in studies on Parkinson’s, diabetes, breast cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. The app will provide researchers with access to a more global population for their work, thereby improving the overall quality of future studies.

(Source: medGadget)

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GeeksMe Fitness Tracker Measures Usual Vitals and More

Geeks meSpanish smartphone maker, Geeksphone, has announced that in the summer of 2015 they will be releasing a new fitness tracker known as GeeksMe. The fitness tracker will measure steps taken, calories burned and distance walked/run/biked during exercise. Additionally, the device features sleep monitoring, syncs with smartphones to deliver call and message notifications, and can set reminders for the wearer. The two main features that distinguish the GeeksMe fitness tracker from its counterparts are the device’s ecological footprint tracker– for the environmentally conscious– and a sex tracker.

To activate the sex tracker (which is the device’s best selling point), wearer’s will have to activate the special “lover performance” mode. From there, the device tracks the calories burned during the event, the duration, and frequency of activity. The company also promises that they are developing algorithms for “other very useful information” that users may want regarding their sexual performance. As sex is medically considered a strong component for a healthy lifestyle, Geeksphone is expecting the GeeksMe to be a big hit after its release.

(Source: Tech Crunch)

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Wishbone Infrared Thermometer for Smart Phones

wishbone-thermometerA Kickstarter campaign has begun to commercially market The Wishbone, an infrared thermometer that can be synced with your smartphone. Infrared thermometers are ideal for f homes where multiple people use the same thermometer because they do not require any contact with human skin; users can simply hold the thermometer near the forehead and the device is able to give an accurate temperature reading. While infrared thermometers have been around for some time, The Wishbone is unique because it syncs with a smartphone app (either iOS or Android) and allows you to log the data over time. Additionally, you can share readings with a health care provider. The device is pocket-sized and requires a low energy battery that can last a little over a year.

(Source: Popular Science)

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Cellscope’s Otoscope Could Simplify Treating Ear Infections at Home

otoscopeAccording to the National Institute of Health (NIH), nearly 80% of all children will have had at least one ear infection by age three and those who become infected are more likely to have more ear infections in the future. These ear infections lead millions of parents to spend countless hours in doctors offices and emergency rooms, waiting for a five-minute test and diagnosis. Now, Cellscope Oto’s clip-on otoscope is aiming to simplify the process of diagnosing and treating ear infections. The Cellscope otoscope is a clip-on attachment similar to the one used by doctors in their office. The attachment syncs with an app (currently only available for iOS, but will soon be available for all smart phones) and allows parents to submit photos and videos of their child’s potentially infected ear to doctors who study the picture and provide a diagnosis. Additionally, doctors can also send a prescription directly to the pharmacy, allowing parents to speedily treat the infection if necessary. Pre-sales for the device are already available in California, and the company is planning to roll out the device in other states as well.

(Source: ieeeSpectrum)

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Samsung Delves Deeper Into the Field of Healthcare With the EDSAP

samsung-strokeSamsung moves further into the field of healthcare with the development of the Early Detection Sensor and Algorithm Package (EDSAP). The EDSAP pairs a flexible, dry EEG device with a smartphone or tablet app that can deliver the reading and results of a test within a minute. Samsung claims that the app will be helpful in identifying patients who have suffered a stroke. The EDSAP headset delivers much higher quality EEG readings than current headsets because of the high-sensitivity dry electrodes and an algorithm which compares the current reading against a bank of EEG readings of patients who have suffered strokes in the past. In addition to paramedic and emergency room use of the device to detect strokes, Samsung predicts that patients themselves can use the device not only to determine if they have had a mild stroke, but also to monitor stress and analyze sleep patterns. The EDSAP is still in the prototype stage, but the company is hopeful about its potential uses.

(Source: medGadget)

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BioDigital App Offers Hand-Held 3D Anatomy and Physiology Models

digestion app3D modeling of cadavers has become increasingly commonplace in medical schools and training hospitals because of the convenience it offers. Schools and hospitals no longer have to wait to obtain cadavers from the morgue, there is no time limit on a 3D model because it cannot begin to rot and smell, and finally, students are able to make multiple incisions in a way they could not with a human cadaver. While some 3D anatomy and physiology models (such as the Anatomage Table we featured on our website) offer state-of-the-art technology, they can also be quite large and prohibitively expensive. Now, the BioDigital Human app aims to make 3D modeling affordable and available to users in a handheld format.

The app, which will be available for both iOS and Android, offers several free example models. For unlimited access, users can make an in-app purchase for a subscription that will cost either $20 per year for mobile access or $50 per year for mobile and web access. Summaries of body parts and diseases associated with body parts are available alongside the 3D models. Users can also annotate models and take quizzes in Easy or Hard modes, additionally views can be changed to show only x-ray models or organ systems. Finally, there is a Community option in the app which allows users to share annotated images with others–ideal for classes.

(Source: iMedicalApps)

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Pathway Genomics Pairing with IBM’s Watson to Deliver the Most Personalized Health App Yet

dnaA start-up known as Pathway Genomics is teaming up with IBM’s supercomputer, Watson, to develop the most personalized health app yet– the Pathway Panorama. The app, which will release sometime in mid-2015, aims to link together data from fitness trackers, a user’s medical history, and sequence the user’s genome. The app will then be able to deliver the user with personalized health advice, for instance, how much a person with your particular genome sequence should be exercising. What will truly set the Pathway Panorama apart from the other health apps (aside from the very detailed information it stores from its users), is its use of the Watson supercomputer. When a user asks a question of the app, Watson will not only be able to identify what the user is asking, but also be able to scan the internet for all relevant articles published in medical journals, delivering an informed answer in seconds.

The Pathway Panorama will cost users a “small monthly fee” after its release, and developers are currently dealing with the hurdle of the FDA limiting companies providing genome-sequence-based health diagnoses to only deliver this information to doctors. Still, the app promises to be revolutionary.

(Source: Popular Science)

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PEEK Clip-On Could Help Diagnosis Conditions Which Cause Blindness

peek-smartphoneRecent studies have shown that in developing countries, 4 out 5 people who go blind do so as a result of conditions which are preventable or curable. While many conditions such as glaucoma or cataracts can be diagnosed and treated in an ophthalmologist’s office, in remote countries, many of the sight-saving equipment common in the United States and Europe (such as a fundus camera) can be prohibitively expensive and difficult to transport.

Now, a start-up company is developing the Portable Eye Exam Kit (PEEK), which includes a smartphone app and a clip-on attachment for smartphones that supplants both an opthalmoscope and a retina camera. It provides a lens through which the smartphone’s own camera can be used to take a high quality, close-up picture of the retina. No special training is needed to use the PEEK, and images can be sent via smartphone to trained specialist eye doctors anywhere in the world. PEEK will be collecting funds for the device through January 2015, and they are currently working with Doctors Without Borders as well as the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness to determine which regions would benefit from the device the most.

(Source: Popular Science)

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Environmental Working Group Develops Food Scores Database

foodscoresAn environmental research organization known as Environmental Working Group has developed a database known as Food Scores which will list information on over 80,000 prepackaged foods sold in the United States. The website goes beyond listing just calories and nutrition facts, but also states information on whether the foods listed include added sugars, include genetically modified ingredients, as well as information on pesticides and additives. The database then assigns a score from 1-10 where 1 is the most nutritious and 10 is the least. Food Scores will soon be developing an accompanying app where users can scan bar codes for information on packaged foods.

(Source: The New York Times)

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Cambridge Consultants’ Flow Health Hub Brings Lab Testing Home

FlowCambridge Consultants has released a concept for an at-home lab that may very likely be a reality in the near future. The device is known as the Flow Health Hub. The device would be compact, allowing for various, color-coded testing cartridges to be stored inside. The cartridges would be capable of testing a number of body fluids, including: blood, urine, and saliva; those testing blood would be equipped with a lancet and an integrated test strip. After the body fluid is inserted into the cartridge, users would then plug the cartridge into the Flow Health Hub, where the interactive display screen would provide quick, accurate, easy-to-read results. Users would also be able to use the Flow Health Hub to track their personal fitness and monitor existing conditions.

(Source: medGadget)

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Valencell Introduces Earbud Heartrate Monitors

valencellWhile the use of heart rate monitors is nothing to new to fitness enthusiasts, many users find that their readings can at times inaccurate. Movement, sweat or clothing can all alter the readings on traditional wristband monitors. Now, North Carolina-based company, Valencell, has developed a device known as the PerformTek, which promises to deliver real-time, accurate heart rate readings during exercise. The PerformTek uses pulse oximetry technology similar to the fingertip sensors used in many hospitals and doctor’s offices. Pulse oximetry makes us of infrared light to measure blood flow, and thus, heart rate, respiration, and blood oxygen levels. Because the device works best in a dark environment with minimal movement, the ear– which is surrounded by a host of capillaries– is an ideal location for users to wear PerformTek. Additionally, Valencell’s developers noted that while most fitness enthusiasts were likely to forget their heart rate monitors before a workout, it was unlikely that they would forget their headphones.

As Valencell continues to perfect their design, they are aiming to provide their technology to headphone developers, which would allow the PerformTek to be inserted into a traditional pair of headphones that use a 3.5mm smartphone jack, eliminating the need for external power.

(Source: ieeeSpectrum)

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Bilicam App Detects Jaundice in Newborns

Bili-appEngineers and physicians at the University of Washington have worked together to develop the Bilicam App– an app which allows physicians and parents to detect jaundice in newborns. Jaundice is a condition that causes yellowing of the skin and eyes in newborns due to elevated bilirubin levels in the blood. If not treated immediately, the condition can lead to serious complications such as brain damage. The Bilicam App can detect jaundice in newborns with the use of a cellphone camera, flash, and a calibration card roughly the size of a business card.

Parents place the calibration card on the infant’s stomach and take a photograph with their smartphone through the app. The card properly calibrates the app, allowing it to detect color clearly even in darker skin tones. The app then checks for any yellowing or discoloration and gives parents an alert if the child may be at risk for jaundice and recommends a blood test. In an initial study of 100 newborns of varying skin tones, the Bilicam App detected jaundice as well as the standard detection tests. The developers are now working to expand the trial to include over 1000 newborns, especially those of darker skin tones. Developers are aiming to gain FDA approval within a couple of years.

(Source: medGadget)

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This Fitness Tracker is Shocking

fitness trackerNew company, Pavlok has developed a fitness tracker that aims to go beyond measuring calories burnt and sleep cycles, and goes as far as helping to motivate wearers to workout with light shocks. The device, which debuts in 2015 and will retail for between $149 and $229, delivers a small, 340 volt shock to the wearer when they skip workouts.

The Pavlok developers insist that the shocks do not hurt, but the sensation works to train the brain to recognize when it is time to workout. Users program their goals (for instance, to workout for 30 minutes 5 days a week), and if they meet these goals they are rewarded with gift cards or money, but repeatedly missing workouts means the wearer has to pay money to another Pavlok user. Pavlok developers hope this new tracker will help to motivate users in a way that no other fitness tracker on the market currently does.

(Source: Yahoo Tech)

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InteraXon’s Muse May Help to Manage Stress and Anxiety

museheadsetToronto start-up, InteraXon, has developed what will be a, “FitBit for the brain.” The company, which has been experimenting with the use of brain-wave technologies since its inception in 2007, says their new Muse device will allow users to measure their brain activity in the same way people now measure caloric intake and steps taken throughout the day. The Muse is a thin, white headset that can be worn comfortably across the forehead. The device measures brain waves in the same way an EEG would, and wirelessly transfers the data collected to a smartphone or tablet, where the information is synced with an app known as Calm.

The goal is that the device will be used daily. The accompanying Calm app utilizes information gathered by the Muse headset to allow users to visually track their stress management. Additionally, the app is equipped with several coaching programs which help users develop controlled, focused thinking, teaches users to meditate, and will also help users to control stress and anxiety. The developers see a wide range of uses for the Muse headset and Calm app, and even envision the product being used to help children with hyperactivity and attention disorders, as well as aiding those in high-stress jobs by sending alerts to employers if a user is showing signs of mental fatigue.

(Source: Popular Science)

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Kosmo Begins Indiegogo Campaign to Launch Connected E-Cig

kosmo-ecigaretteAccording to studies, roughly 71% of people who begin using e-cigarettes do so because they believe it will help them kick the smoking habit altogether. However, because of the ease e-cigarettes offer (by allowing users to vape where smoking was previous prohibited such as restaurants and movie theaters) and variable nicotine amounts in each electronic cigarettes, many users often end up smoking more than they did before. Now, start-up company Kosmo is aiming to help those trying to use e-cigarettes as a quitting tool with the creation of an e-cig that comes with an accompanying app.

The app offers users instant feedback (data is transmitted to smartphones through bluetooth each time users take a pull). The app then tracks and charts how often the cigarettes are used, giving users a visual tool. In addition, users can program the app with a cessation program that coaches them by providing users with a daily cap of pulls, lowering the amount of allotted pulls over time.

Kosmo is still conducting its Indiegogo campaign and hopes to use the funds to begin manufacturing and marketing the product soon.

(Source: medGadget)

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The Future of Contraceptives Could Lay in a Chip

microchipsBorrowing from a technology that is currently being used to replace daily injections for osteoporosis patients, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is funding the development of a long-term contraceptive that would be controlled by a smart phone. The device would likely be an injectable chip just 1.5cm in size, containing the contraceptive levonogestrel. If the device is successful, it could prevent pregnancy for up to 16 years (far longer than the currently longest-lasting contraceptive, and IUD, which lasts only 7 years).

The contraceptive chip, which shows greatest promise for use in third world countries where there are very few family-planning options, is still in the experimental stage. Developers are trying to be certain that the device will only be able to be controlled by the user before submitting it for FDA approval.

(Source: Engadget)

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Smartphone App to Potentially Monitor Schizophrenic Patients

schizophrenia stockZucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, NY is now embarking on an experiment to test the effectiveness of CrossCheck, a smartphone app designed to keep track of schizophrenic patients and determine if a relapse is likely. John Kane, the chairman of psychiatry at the hospital says that patients come in once a month for therapy after being discharged. However, doctors have no way of monitoring their behavior in between appointments, and patients may get themselves into legal trouble or physical danger in the lapse between sessions.

150 patients with a schizophrenia diagnosis that were discharged from Zucker Hillside within the past year have been chosen for this experiment. Half of those patients will receive standard hospital procedures following discharge while the other half will be monitored using the CrossCheck app. The app has various sensors which monitor location via GPS, how quickly the user is moving (to determine if they are walking, running, or sedentary), it also monitors frequency and duration of conversations (but not content) in person and over the phone with the use of a small microphone, and finally determines how often and for how long patients are sleeping by determining when the phone is idle. When any of these sensors detect behavior that is a known sign of relapse– such as irregular sleeping patterns, rapid speech or constant movements– patients with the CrossCheck app will receive an alert suggesting they seek professional help. Additionally, the program investigators at the hospital will receive a notification as well.

All of these trackers may seem excessive and dangerous considering schizophrenic patients are predisposed to paranoia. However, patients in the experiment will receive an education component, informing them of what the sensors will be looking for and reminding patients that the app is a combined effort between the patient and doctor to keep the patient healthy.

(Source: ieeeSpectrum)

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