Health

Scanadu unveils “biggest innovation in home medicine since the thermometer”

Home medicine used to be the realm of intuition and home remedies. Despite significant advances in learning and technology, people today are disconnected from their bodies and rely on medical professionals for insights regarding their own health.

Today, Scanadu unveiled three health products that help people get in touch with their physical health. Billed as “the biggest innovation in home medicine since the invention of the thermometer,” these home diagnostic tools use mobile, sensor, and social technology to create a real-time, comprehensive picture of your health data.

Scanadu SCOUT is a sensor that people hold up to their temple, and in less than ten seconds, it will collect data on pulse, heart rate, electrical heart activity, temperature, heart rate variability, and blood oxygenation. The device be available at the end of 2013 for $150.

The second tool, Project ScanaFlo, analyzes urine for conditions like pregnancy complications, preeclampisa, gestational diabetes, kidney failure and urinary tract infections. This disposable cartridge will be sold over-the-counter.

Finally, Scandau will sell Project ScanaFlu. This disk tests saliva through a disposable cartridge to detect Strep A, Influenza A, Influenza B, Adenovirus, and RSV. Catching respiratory disease and the flu early generally leads to a speedier recovery.

All the data collected through these devices will be tracked through the mobile app, which offers a personal health feed to monitor vitals signs and identify patterns over time. By “sending your smartphone to med school,” mobile devices become a powerful tool to keep people in tune with their bodies.

“People can get access information about health and connect to each other about health, but the piece that is missing is that people can’t get information about their own body,” said founder Walter De Brouwer in an interview with VentureBeat. “By getting precision diagnostics into the hands of people, this can enable them to get early detection and to inform their conversations with their doctor in the ways that haven’t been possible.”

De Brouwer is a “futurist, academic, scientist and entrepreneur” who helped found TEDGlobal and worked with the One Laptop Per Child initiative. In 2005, his son suffered brain trauma and spent a year in the hospital. This experience inspired De Brouwer to leave academia and set out to change the healthcare industry.

The American health industry is in a state of flux, with significant reforms and technological developments affecting the way people think about healthcare and its providers. De Brouwer said that that the center of gravity is moving out of hospitals and into outpatient care, and tools like this can lead to better, smarter care for more people, at a fraction of the time and cost.

Scanadu is based at the NASA-Ames Research Center and is part of the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize competition. These three products are just the beginning. The crack team of biohackers, doctors, scientists, engineers, PhDs, and MDs are full of ideas for the future, including testing for AIDS and “embarrassing diseases” where patients feel shy about seeking medical help.


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