Basic medical tests once required a trip to a clinic. These days, anyone can measure their pulse, heart rate, and blood pressure using cheap digital equipment. That's great for people who are curious about their health and even better for people who lack access to formal health care.
Luis Martín's e-Health Sensor Platform shows what can be done when many kinds of health sensors are combined. The result is a miniature mobile hospital. Built with an Arduino board and Raspberry Pi computer, it contains a lot of what you would find in a formal medical facility, but at a fraction of the traditional cost.
"Most of medical devices have high prices and proprietary licenses which makes [it] impossible for a community to develop applications with them," says Martín, an electric engineer graduate from the University of Zaragoza. "I want to give people the necessary tools to develop e-health applications. That can be the basis of a new era of open-source medical products."
The e-health platform is shortlisted for the James Dyson Award, which announces a winner in November.
The device is only a prototype at the moment, and it's not too pretty. But Martín hopes it will be a platform that others can work on. "We want people to try this prototyping kit, to improve the product better with their experiences. Already, there are already several projects that use this platform."
That includes researchers, developers, artists who are using the sensor data for "fun and test purposes." Possible future applications includes "sculpture that responds to a person's biometric signals" and a remote monitoring system for testing glucose levels among the elderly.
We've covered several cheap health sensor products, notably the Scanadu Scout medical "tricorder" and all these smartphone-based tests. Martín's system could also theoretically work with a smartphone, but he is yet to build the app to go with it.
Eventually, Martín hopes the kit will be available in the developing world. "A next step would be to try to get the necessary medical certifications to sell the product as a commercial system and find ways to subsidize this product to poor people or people with modest means," he says.
[Image via Shutterstock]