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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Fitness Tracker Could Prevent Addict Relapse

addict fit bitA team of researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester is experimenting with using a fitness tracker to monitor and prevent relapses in patients trying to recover from drug addictions. In a study involving four ER patients who were taking supervised doses of morphine, and a volunteer outpatient who used cocaine recreationally, the team was able to collect information on the different drugs’ effects on the body. For instance, cocaine use caused a “hurricane of movement” with decreased temperature, while morphine increased temperature but decreased movement.

In December of 2015 the team recruited 15 more patients in rehab programs to wear the tracker for 30 days. All of the participants kept their trackers on for the entirety of the study and many asked to see their data at the end. Many asked to continue wearing the tracker in order to hold themselves accountable. While this study saw much of its success due to participants’ desire to recover from their addiction, the researchers saw the promise for dealing with addiction in the future. The team is working on detecting differences in drug signatures in habitual users versus first time users. Additionally, they are working on combining physiological data— which could detect when a person becomes stressed, for example—with GPS data to predict where a person is traveling. Together, the trackers can help develop an algorithm which could identify when a relapse is likely to occur and send a notification to a loved one or doctor.

(Source: ieeeSpectrum)

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Pager App Brings You On-Demand House Calls from Doctors

PagerFor New Yorker’s who dislike the long, crowded wait in doctor’s offices, an app that is being dubbed “Uber for Doctors” is now providing house calls at the tap of a button. The Pager app is free to download, and the first visit is $49, although most insurances cover the cost. Users can request a visit through the app, a doctor calls the user to asses their need, a house call is scheduled usually for the same day, and during the visit, the doctor can diagnose, treat, and prescribe medication as needed with prescription delivery available as an option. The doctor then follows up the next day via phone call or text.

The app has been celebrated for its convenience and has received additional funding to begin providing service in other metropolitan areas of the US.

(Sources: Pager; Mobi Health News)

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Nima Sensor Tests Food for Hidden Gluten

6SensorLabs in San Francisco has developed a pocket-sized sensor that can help users test for traces of gluten in foods– a welcome innovation for sufferers of Celiac disease for whom the protein is impossible to digest and is treated by the body as an allergen. The Nima Sensor, as it is called, uses chemistry to test for the presence of gluten in foods. Users place a pea-sized amount of food or liquid (not including alcohol) into a disposable cartridge and screw on the top of the cartridge. The sample drops into the bottom of the sensor’s chamber where a reagent tests for a presence of more than 20 parts per million of gluten– the limit established by the FDA for a food to be considered “gluten free.”

The Nima Sensor is available for pre-order, and the developers are planning to launch a mobile app once the device begins shipping. The accompanying app will allow users to create a database of foods and restaurants that suit gluten-free needs. The developers at 6SensorLabs are also planning to create similar sensors for other common food allergens such as peanuts and dairy. For more information on the Nima Sensor, please watch the video above.

(Source: medGadget)

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Smartphone App Aids in Reducing Motion Sickness

motion sicknessFor three out of every ten people, severe motion sickness is a common occurrence. The most extreme side effects of the sickness are often characterized by cold sweats, dizziness, and severe nausea. Now, a team from Imperial College in London is working to develop a smartphone app that could minimize the symptoms of motion sickness through the simple use of a headphone jack. The user attaches small electrodes to their scalp, and the wire is plugged into the headphone jack. The app then sends tiny electrical currents to the wearer. In trials for the app, subjects were placed in a motion sickness simulators, and the results were equal to those achieved through the current motion sickness medications–without the side effect of drowsiness. The app’s developers claim the app will be available for purchase in five to ten years.

(Source: Science Times)

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Welltwigs System Helps Hopeful Parents Conceive

welltwigsA new startup is aiming to help hopeful parents conceive by tracking hormone levels and basal body temperature through an app. The product, known as the Welltwigs system, works by measuring a woman’s basal body temperature and Luteinizing hormone(LH) levels through the use of a thermometer and hormone testing module (that resembles a pregnancy test). The information is synced with an accompanying app that predicts the woman’s most fertile days, and determines when is the best time to try conceiving. The system is also able to detect Human Chorionic Gondatropin (hCG) levels, and therefore predict if a woman is already pregnant. Although the full Welltwigs system is not yet available for commercial purchase, interested users can already download the iOS app to begin tracking fertility.

(Source: medGadget)

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MoleScope Connects Patients to Dermatologists Remotely

molescopePeople often joke that it takes only a matter of seconds for a dermatologist to diagnose moles as being cancerous or benign. This is because a dermatologist’s eyes have been trained to be so discerning they can easily spot variations in mole size, shape, and color, then determine if these variations are a cause for concern. However, in many regions of the world, visiting a dermatologist is a luxury that can take months to plan. This becomes troublesome as most melanomas can be better diagnosed and treated the earlier they are discovered.

To help bridge this gap between patients and dermatologists Canadian healthcare technology company MetaOptima developed MoleScope, a new smartphone app for monitoring skin lesions.The app comes with a mini-microscope that is similar to a dermatologist’s dermascope. Patients can use the mini-microscope to take detailed photos of their moles and other skin lesions, then have the mole evaluated by a remote dermatologists. In a 2013 study, smartphone apps similar to MoleScope were found to have a 98% accuracy for diagnoses.The MoleScope will begin a pilot program on June 22, 2015 involving 10 different centers around the world. Dermatologists and general practitioners will use the app to create a more direct line of communication with patients who have a higher risk of skin cancer and melanoma.

Dermatologists caution that though these apps have value in diagnosis, they will not yet replace a doctor. Additionally, the FDA is still vague on how they will handle handle health apps. Nevertheless, the MoleScope is a step forward in communication between patient and doctor.

(Source: Popular Science)

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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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