At present, the only health-measurement tools most people have in their homes are the scale and the thermometer. Scanadu wants to provide some new technologies to bring home-health monitoring into the 21st century.
Imagine being able to accurately diagnose yourself. Say you have a sore throat with a fever and you want to know if it is strep, the flu, or something else. You pull out a device and, shortly thereafter, it makes the diagnosis for you.
Such a scenario could be not far off. A company called Scanadu (NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA), which is the most prominent firm vying for the $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize, has announced its first product offerings: ScanaFlu, ScanaFlo, and the SCOUT. The firm is touting the tools as the “biggest innovation in home medicine since the invention of the thermometer.”
|The SCOUT device will be able to measure vital signs in less than 10 seconds.|
The ScanaFlu, a saliva tester that can be used in conjunction with a smartphone to determine if you have strep A, influenza A, influenza B, adenovirus, or RSV.
The ScanaFlo, a urine testing device that can detect pregnancy complications, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, kidney failure, and urinary tract infections. At present, there is no health pregnancy test, said the company’s co-founder and CEO Walter de Brouwer in an interview with TechCrunch. “This is a test that not only checks to see if you are pregnant but also checks for the complications of pregnancy or checks for liver or kidney failure, dehydration, or gestational diabetes.”
|Scanadu's CEO de Brouwer demonstrates on TechCrunch how the SCOUT would measure vital signs—by pressing the device with the thumb and forefinger against the temple.|
The SCOUT, which is expected to debut at the end of 2013, is a cloud-connected vital signs monitor that will cost less than $150. Within less than ten seconds, it can assess pulse transit time, heart rate, ECG, temperature, heart rate variability, and blood oxygenation. Walter de Brouwer explained in an interview with TechCrunch that device had to work quickly to be valuable in a “Twitter-ized world.”
The technology behind the devices draws on electrical and mechanical engineering, using sensors and electrodes. The company relies on imaging and sound analysis, molecular diagnostics, data analytics and algorithms to create an accurate summary of your health in real time.
Since Scanadu was founded in 2010, it has received more than $6 million in seed funding.
Brian Buntz is the editor-at-large at UBM Canon's medical group. Follow him on Twitter at @brian_buntz.