MouthLab and mobile diagnostics

mouthlabEarlier this year I wrote about the SNIFFPHONE project that aimed to bring all manner of health analysis via your breath. It’s a breathalyzer device that when connected up to your smartphone will analyze your breath and be able to alert you to any number of possible diseases.

The Israeli led project works by using an array of micro and nano sensors that can analyze the breath as its exhaled and then communicate that information back to the smartphone for interpretation.

MouthLab

A similar project has recently emerged from Johns Hopkins University.  They have developed a prototype, called MouthLab, that is capable of picking up our vital signs from our lips and finger tips.

The project was chronicled in a recently published study that saw 52 volunteers fitted up with both the MouthLab device and standard hospital monitors.  They were being checked for things like blood oxygen, heart rate, blood pressure and so on.

“We see it as a ‘check-engine’ light for humans,” the project team say. “It can be used by people without special training at home or in the field.”

The aim is for it to provide early warning of potential problems, such as heart attacks, or alternatively to provide sufficient data to support a patient in not going to ER.

It’s hoped that the initial features will be expanded in future versions to detect cues in blood, saliva and breath.

“We envision the detection of a wide range of disorders,” the team say, “from blood glucose levels for diabetics, to kidney failure, to oral, lung and breast cancers.”

The device itself is similar in style to the mouthpieces used by scuba divers.  The device is fitted with a temperature sensor and blood volume sensor.  The hand held device that is connected to the mouthpiece also has a thumb pad for oxygen analysis with other sensors on the device used to measure our breath.  The team are also working on three electrodes to provide ECGs.

The device uses wi-fi to send data to a smartphone or other connected device where real time results are displayed in graph form.  The ultimate plan is to make it possible for patients to send the results to their doctor via their phone, with it then easy for the doctor to add the data to the patient record.

It’s an interesting project, and initial results suggest it is capable of doing what more traditional apparatus is capable of, so it should be one that’s worth following.

You can check out a bit more about MouthLab via the video below.

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