Aug   2012



A Smartphone a Day Keeps the Doctor Away


Tags: engineering research, walking pneumonia, pneumonia symptoms, engineering, smartphone apps, smartphones, health apps, pneumonia detection

Data Entry Specialist, Carnegie Communications

Smartphones—the newest addiction to plague our society. Almost everyone has one, so what better platform exists for saving lives on a budget?

Games like Angry Birds and Tiny Tower have become immensely popular with smartphone users, but what if you could download an app to make sure you are healthy?

We’ve seen apps like Couch-to-5k and Nike+ help a lot of people get active, and college students can’t survive without the ability to tweet from their new favorite restaurant But what if you could use an app to make sure you are infection free? 

Seriously? My phone can do that?

Four students from the University of Melbourne decided there was something else your smartphone should do: combat an overlooked childhood killer, pneumonia. Using standards defined by the World Health Organization, the phone collects data, processes it using complex algorithms, and interprets the data according to the established standard. While this should not replace a normal visit to your doctor, it could make you realize that a trip to the emergency room is more important than hitting up that party.

Why should I care?

While first-world nations are not the intended audience, there are a few important things to note. (Parents, I hope you are reading too!)

Walking Pneumonia is very common among college students, especially around exam week. Not only are students opting for time to cram instead of sleep, but many college kids don’t eat properly. When you add on the cesspool that is a college dorm and the intense stress that can come during finals, you have a recipe for disaster.

Okay, I’m sold. So, what is it?

Using a specially designed microphone they call a “stethomic” alongside an app that will guide you through the proper method for listening to breathing, you could check for pneumonia from the comfort of your dorm room.  This “stethomic” is expected to cost only $20, and simply plugs into the audio jack on the smartphone. You could easily convince your parents to include it in your next care package—just make sure they know you’ll be using it to keep yourself healthy, and spend more time studying!

(Tip: You probably shouldn’t mention spending your hospital money on pizza and energy drinks!)

This will certainly open up research into using a smartphone as a universal health care device, and it will save lives throughout developing nations.

Interested in joining the technological revolution coming to health care? Check out these excellent pre-college engineering summer programs to get a jump start and help you get into a radically innovative engineering/science program. You don't have to be a scientist to see your inventiveness come to life!

Already have a groundbreaking idea? Check out the Imagine Cup to compete for a grant to take your project to the next level!