5 Incredibly cool ways your smartphone can keep you healthy
Do you use your smartphone to track how many steps you take? How many calories you ate? Your heart rate? How passe! Now you can use your smartphone to look inside your child's inner ear, determine your own glasses prescription or take an electrocardiogram (EKG).
Welcome to the future, where your smartphone knows all about you, outside and in. Although these tools are still in their infancy, companies are developing products that will allow your smartphone to become your health repository by keeping track of your personal health data, which includes the kinds of tests that used to require a trip to the doctor's office.
Here are five exciting developments in the world of "medtech" at home.
1. AliveCor Heart Monitor
AliveCor Heart Monitor allows you to track your heart health anywhere, at any time, by generating an actual electrocardiogram (EKG) that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart. How? By attaching their monitor to your smartphone. The heart monitor uses electrical impulses from your fingertips, converts them into ultrasound signals and then transmits them through your smartphone microphone.
Being able to monitor your heart health is especially important if you suspect or have been diagnosed with heart conditions, but it's also useful information even if you don't have a history of heart problems, and are simply health conscious.
CellScope is developing a smartphone-enabled otoscope (a medical device used to look into ears) that will enable physicians to remotely diagnose ear infections in children. Parents will be able to use the peripheral, which attaches to a smartphone camera lens, to send an image of their child's inner ear that physicians can use to make a diagnosis and then write a prescription if need be.
EyeNetra is developing a device that recommends power for your eyeglasses and contact lenses, correcting for nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. The device, which measures how well your eye focuses light, consists of a viewer that a user places against a smartphone screen. Spinning a dial yourself, you align green and red lines. From the difference between what you see and the actual location of the lines, an app calculates the focusing error of your eyes. Bonus: No more flunking the eye care exam at your ophthalmologist's office!
MobiUS created the first FDA-approved ultrasound imaging system on smartphones. The software, made by MobiSante, could be used for a slew of clinical applications, including confirming and tracking pregnancies, and assessing kidney disorders. The images and video can be shared over email or through a standard USB connection.
iStethoscope also taps into cell phones' existing microphones. The app allows patients to record their own heartbeats, and then forward along the audio to doctors who can track the development of or monitor various conditions.
Be sure you speak with your health care provider about any at-home testing or monitoring you would like to do and be sure to discuss any results. Over time, there will be more and more diagnostic devices that allow us to take charge of our health and monitoring, raising all of our heart rates a bit higher!