Yet another cool device coming to market that utilizes your smart phone to help play the role of doctor. Introducing the Scanadu:
Scanadu announced Thursday that it plans to start selling this first device—the Scout, which monitors heart rate, temperature, blood oxygenation, and other vital signs—by the end of 2013, as well as a disposable urine-analysis test that can swiftly detect pregnancy issues, urinary tract infections, and kidney problems, and a saliva analysis test that can detect upper respiratory problems like strep throat and the flu. The Scout will cost less than $150, De Brouwer says; he doesn’t put a price tag on the disposable tests but says they will be “very, very cheap.”
The Scout may appeal to the growing quantified-self community, which focuses on tracking everything from sleep to stress levels (see “The Measured Life”) and includes some well-known figures such as the mathematician and entrepreneur Stephen Wolfram (who is also a member of Scanadu’s board).
During a recent demonstration in San Francisco, De Brouwer held a prototype of the Scout—a device about the size of an Apple laptop adapter—up to his temple.
The side of it touching De Brouwer’s head included electrodes and an infrared thermometer. He held it with his thumb and forefinger, one finger on another electrode and the other on a PPG (photoplethysmography) scanner, which measured blood flow. The difference in time between the PPG measurement and a user’s electrical heart rate can be used to calculate blood pressure, according to Alan Greene, Scanadu’s chief medical officer.
Data gathered by the Scout was transferred via low-power Bluetooth to an iPhone held in De Brouwer’s other hand. After about 10 seconds of scanning and analysis by Scanadu’s software, the iPhone shared information about his pulse, temperature, and more. He expects people to scan themselves once daily.
Eventually, the company hopes the Scout is simply integrated into smartphones and other devices, allowing for what De Brouwer calls “passive collection” of information.
De Brouwer and Greene also showed two different skinny blue disposable plastic test kits. A user would spit or urinate on the appropriate one, then snap a photo of a QR code on the test and of a small display area on the test to get results and, if an illness is detected, recommended treatments, the location of the nearest pharmacy, and an indication of how many other people in the area have the same illness.