Toward the Pocket Doctor: South Koreans Perfecting Mobile Phone Medical Apps

by Ostatic Staff - Jan. 31, 2012

As all of us spend more and more time with our mobile phones, it can be easy to be lulled into believing that all the great mobile applications have already been invented. However, many mobile analysts predict that one emerging application class for mobile phones has yet to come to full fruition: medical diagnostic applications. The concept of the phone as doctor (where the doctor is always with you) may still be questionable for some people, since there aren't many applications to point to yet. But at the Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea, the first steps toward the phone that could detect cancer, diabetes and more are being taken. As this story plays out, open source medical diagnostic applications could have a bright future, too.

As The Register reports:

"The work is being done in South Korea, where researchers at the Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have been spitting and bleeding onto capacitive touch screens to see what details they can extract from the samples using standard touchscreen tech...It is early days, but the researchers explained that they can spot the presence of biomolecules and must now attempt to identify what they are using a touchscreen..."

Reuters has also reported on the work going on in South Korea, and we've covered the concept of mobile phone as doctor before too. Applications have already been designed for monitoring glucose levels and more. UCLA researchers have also been developing diagnostic applications for mobile phones. And, through the X-prize competition, researchers are competing for $10 million, which goes to the team that delivers the most functional tricorder--a mobile device capable of analyzing patient samples and capturing vital signs.

The big news about the South Korean research is that it actually involves working with blood and fluids for deep diagnostics, which could include eventual early detection of cancer and other health problems. The open source community is already waking up to the promise of these mobile medical applications, and you can find out more about these efforts here