How Smartphones Are Revolutionizing Diagnostic Medicine

Posted by Harshad

How Smartphones Are Revolutionizing Diagnostic Medicine

How Smartphones Are Revolutionizing Diagnostic Medicine

Posted: 15 Nov 2013 07:01 AM PST

We have covered how smartphones can greatly enhance our lives, not just by being our lifeline to the online world, but also in changing aspects of our physical lives. After investing so much in keeping our smartphones safe, perhaps it is time that we utilize them to keep us safe and healthy.

In this post we are going to look at how medicine is harnessing the power of smartphones, to help detect damage, problems and diseases better, faster and cheaper. Some utilize the built-in cameras and GPS location feature, while others bank on the connectivity of the device to send feedback to professionals for diagnosis.

Not only does this help reduce the costs of healthcare, some of these kits and apps allow for early and fast detection of diseases, and in the process even save lies with early treatment.

Detecting Eye Cancer In Newborns

When taking pictures, we usually come across the red eye problem. Many photo-editing and camera apps have the feature to reduce or remove red eye for you. So it didn’t worry Bryan Shaw much when his wife showed him pictures of their son with one red eye and the other, milky white.

(Source: popsci.com)

A few months later, Noah was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer called retinoblastoma. Only 8000 children under the age of 5 have it each year, half of which succumb to it. The cancer develops as a tumor at the back of the eye, and reflects off as milky white in digital photos. The condition is called leukocoria or white-eye syndrome.

Bryan found that the symptom had been showing up in Noah’s baby photos since Noah was 12 days old, and his doctor told him if the cancer had been detected then, Noah would have been able to save his right eye – he is otherwise a very healthy and bright boy. Bryan has since teamed up with his son’s doctors and published a paper on how digital photos can help catch the early onset of leukocoria in newborns.

A Mobile EyeCare Clinic

90% of the the visually impaired (and blind) live in poor countries. Most have little to no access to medical aid or hospital care but Dr Andrew Bastawrous has a plan. He is using an app called Peek to help get eye problems diagnosed without the patient having to to leave their homes.

Peek allows healthcare workers to visit folks living in rural areas and run check-ups on their eyesight. From running basic vision eye tests, to scanning the affected eye with the smartphone camera, workers can take, then transmit these images to eye specialists for a diagnosis. Information about the patient’s identity and their location are logged in using the smartphone’s GPS.

(Source: bbc.co.uk)

When a problem is detected, the patient can be located using Google Map then retrieved and transferred for treatment at a health facility. The idea is being tested on 5000 people in Kenya to see if the process can deliver accurate results. If it works, this will provide a much cheaper alternative (only £300 per phone) and increased accessibility to eyecare for millions of people.

Battling Visual Impairment

Another device is the NETRA, a $2 clip-on eyepiece that you can attach to any smartphone. Together with EyeNetra, an app that can help detect farsightedness, nearsightedness, age-related blurriness, astigmatism, this combination can help detect refractive errors in the human eye. It helps determine if you need glasses, without the need of the regular heavy-duty equipment.

(Source: mit.edu)

The individual will look through the $2 eye piece and will click on buttons to align patterns that he sees on the smartphone screen. The refractive error is determined by how many clicks the patient requires to align the patterns correctly.

Like Peek, it is being field tested in 14 countries. For more about the project, click here. The team also has one called CATRA which helps detect cataracts in patients.

Fundus Photography

The equipment required for fundus photography, where you take a photo of the interior of the eye, costs up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, it is necessary for opthalmologists to check patients for eye problems. Well, at least it was.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary recently published a paper describing how they were able to take high-quality fundus images using an iPhone 4 or iPhone 5. Along with an app called FiLMiC pro, the researchers could combine an iPhone with a 20D lens and with or without a Koeppe lens to produce fundus images of a patient’s eye even under less than optimum environment settings. The technique is an inexpensive alternative for opthalmologists, and also easy to learn.

Self-Check With Your Smartphone

The fact that more than 1 billion people have smartphones also opens up possibilities to use a smartphone and an app to monitor our conditions. Some of these apps were developed by researchers for the purpose of detecting specific diseases.

Deteriorating Eyesight

FDA-approved myVisionTrack is a monitoring app to help patients of degenerative eye diseases to track their conditions from home. The app allows patients to check their vision using “shape discrimination tests”.  The tests are deemed to be more accurate than Snellen Charts that are used in clinics and results from these tests can be relayed to their eye doctor via the app, without making a clinic appointment first.

Kidney Damage / Diabetes

Researchers at UCLA have built a device to detect albumin levels in a patient’s urine. The device shines light at a urine sample mixed with flourescent dye; a smartphone app processes the light to detect albumin concentration in urine then transfer the results to the doctors. The whole process takes only 5 minutes and can help diabetics and patients with kidney damage. The device can be produced for $50-$100 per unit.

Urinary Diseases

A similar app called Uchek, lets you detect up to 25 different urinary diseases just by analyzing a picture taken of a color-coded strip soaked in a urine sample. The strips and guide to decipher the resultant colors go for $20, while the app is only $0.99. Aside from being able to detect diabetes, this system allow allows the detection of pre-eclampsia and urinary tract infections.

Wrap Up

These are just a few of the apps that you can use at home, to detect early signs of a disease, or actively monitor the progression of an illness. While they are not to be replaced by an actual doctor or healthcare provider, they can help provide consistent data which could contribute to better, more timely treatment. Plus, owning a smartphone is now more than just about taking that epic selfie.


Guest Blogging: 3 Fatal Mistakes To Avoid

Posted: 15 Nov 2013 05:01 AM PST

Editor’s note: This is a contributed post by Jawad Khan, a freelance writer and professional blogger with a keen interest in content marketing, blogging and WordPress. He blogs at WritingMyDestiny.com and you can contact him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

For many small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs, it often proves challenging in the beginning to generate regular web traffic, establish credibility and acquire clients. Even if you consistently post high quality content on your company blog, it may still take a while before you can actually build a loyal following of readers (or prospective clients).

One way I’ve found to be effective in speeding things up and achieving all the aforementioned objectives is guest blogging on other more established websites. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It’s not. There are 3 very common mistakes that often lay waste to all the hard work you have put into your guest blogging efforts. Here’s how you won’t fall victim to them.

1. Not Having a Clear Objective

The phenomenon of aimless guest blogging has been especially apparent since Google algorithms started becoming more quality-oriented. Don’t jump on the guest blogging bandwagon just because you see everyone else doing it. For any marketing effort to succeed in the long run, you must first have a clear objective in mind.

Picking The Right Limelight

Let’s say you’re looking to introduce your products or services to a particular market segment. You should then cast your attention to some of the top blogs in the industry that most of your prospective clients are likely to visit. This would help with building a credible image for your brand and generating qualified traffic.

The same goes for client acquisition as well. Submit guest posts to some renowned blogs that your prospective clients will likely visit.

Now, if your objective is to get backlinks, then your selection of target blogs will obviously change. A freelance writer myself, I made the mistake of guest blogging frequently on freelance writing blogs in the hope of getting clients. I did get traffic and backlinks from those guest posts, but not customers.

The reason? My potential clients are small businesses, tech startups and web design companies, and not one of them visits freelance writing blogs. In short, you should develop strategic focus and be clear about your objectives because otherwise, your guest blogging efforts won’t give you much return.

2. Pitching Low Quality & Spun Content

There’s probably nothing more detrimental to your brand image than this one – it’s a real brand killer! You should spend as much time on creating guest posts, if not more, as you would for your own blog as a poor guest post can actually deal more damage to your brand image than a low quality post on your own blog.

Unfortunately, an increasing number of guest bloggers are pitching used or spun content in their writing. First of all, spun content is not that hard to detect these days, and even if it doesn’t get identified, it still usually looks bad enough to be rejected.

Go For Quality, Instead Of Quantity

In my view, this tendency stems from the belief that you need to write a lot of guest posts to achieve any significant results – this is just plain wrong. Ask any content marketing expert and he would probably tell you to focus on the 80/20 rule, i.e. 80% of your results should come from 20% of your most focused efforts.

One high quality guest post on a credible blog is indeed much better than 10 low quality guest posts on substandard blogs.

By credible blogs, I’m in no way suggesting that you should target only the top blogs. Look for the mid-range blogs in your target niche with loyal readers and an active social media following. Unlike the top blogs, these blogs wouldn’t ask you for epic guest posts, but of course they would also not accept any substandard work.

3. Wasting The Exposure

The moment your guest post goes live, you’ll start getting referral traffic to your website from the links in your author bio. However, don’t make that common beginner’s mistake of letting your guard down at this stage. You need to have a clear plan for capitalizing on the traffic and exposure you get from your guest post.

One great way of doing that is routing the traffic to a particular landing page where you can make the visitors take action. For example, if your objective is to get subscribers for your new eBook, then all your referral traffic should be routed to your eBook subscription page. Similarly, if your objective is to acquire clients, then the traffic should be routed to either a dedicated sales landing page or your own services page.

In any case, just bear in mind that getting your guest post published is not the end of your guest blogging cycle – it’s just the first step.


As Google places more emphasis on high quality content with each update to its search algorithm, guest blogging is bound to become more prominent in the near future. But in order to take full advantage of this highly effective marketing channel, you need to set your sights on the big picture instead of merely looking for short-term benefits.

Be clear about your objective(s) and avoid the mistakes we have looked at in this post, and you will increase your chances of success considerably.


Retinize It – Photoshop Action To Optimize Images For iOS

Posted: 15 Nov 2013 02:01 AM PST

One of the peeves of a web designer’s daily routine is to sit down and do repetitive image slicing, and making sure the images are web-compatible. With more and more gadgets supporting high-definition display, this situation adds more workload to an already boring job as designers have to produce 2 sets of images: one for regular resolution, the other for high-definition resolution.

If you are one of the designers who face this problem, here’s a handy tool that you might just be interested in: Retinize it.

In a nutshell, Retinize It is a photoshop action. Create by Artiom Dashinsky, this free plugin slices and scales images (repetitively) for HD screens. It will save you hours on the job, if not days.

Using Retinize It

To use the plugin, hop over to Retinize.it to download the plugin, then double-click the file to add it into Photoshop.

Go to the Windows > Actions panel in Photoshop and you will noticed that two actions, "Slice it!" and "Retinize It!" have been added. And here’s what they each do:

Slice it – As it’s name suggest, this action slices layers down to web-compatible images.

Retinize It! – This other action on the other hand, does two things. First, it saves images in normal size, then it scales images to two times larger (2x) for high-definition screens.

To see how Retinize It fares, we tested it with this weather icon set by Adam Whitcroft. We selected one of the layers and ran the Retinize It! action.

The first process saved the image in normal size, as expected.

After first image is saved, it proceeded to run the second action, scaling the image 2x bigger for the Retina display. As you can see in the screenshot below, the icon has been scaled up by 200%.

We inserted @2x in the filename before the file extension. Apple uses this suffix to pick up higher-resolution images and serve those in Retina display. (You can also use Retina.js in conjunction, which does a similar task – serve image with @2x suffix in high-definition screen.)

Note: It is highly advisable to use Shape or Smart Object layers in order to retain the image quality.

Final Thought

Retinize It is a recommended tools for web designers. It will reduce the workload when it comes to slicing and creating images for high-res use. For more on this subject, you can head over to the following references.


One Coin To Rule All Your Credit Cards

Posted: 14 Nov 2013 11:01 PM PST

There are many digital wallet systems that work with our smartphones today, but sometimes, having the physical card to swipe at the counter can be more convenient and takes much less time. Besides, not all shops will accept the type of digital wallet you use. That said, lugging around your credit cards, debit cards, ATM cards, gift cards, etc can be a drag.

We have here a handy alternative called Coin.

Despite its name, Coin is a card, and it carries a magnetic stripe like all your other cards. It works like them too — you can swipe or scan it like you would your loyalty cards, membership cards, credit cards etc when you make your purchases. The difference is, you just need this one master card to do it all.

Inserting Card Information

To use Coin, first you need to insert your card information into it. To do this, you’ll need its smartphone app (available on iOS and Android) along with a smartphone credit card reader.

Just swipe your card through the reader (dongle) and take a picture of the front and back of that card. The information will be sent to Coin via Bluetooth 4.0 and you can store as many cards as you want.


To use a card on a purchase, select the appropriate card to use via the button on Coin. Coin will display the cards you have stored in there one at a time. Pick the card you want and swipe away.

According to the official website, the card selector button is stiff, which means that no accidental card changes will occur when you hand it over to the cashier.

Security Features

You might feel that the idea to store the details of all your cards in Coin a little unsafe, but there are a few built-in security features that can help ease your mind.

Coin is paired to your smartphone with Low Energy Bluetooth 4.0. Whenever it gets separated too far away from your smartphone, an alarm will be triggered to notify you that your Coin has been misplaced.

Coin Notification

If Coin gets stolen and leaves the connectivity period of your smartphone for too long, it will automatically deactivate itself, rendering it useless. How far or how long Coin is separated before this is triggered can be set via the app.


Your online Coin account, mobile app and the device itself use 128-bit or 256-bit encryption for all storage and communication to ensure your card information is safe. Coin also doesn’t display your entire credit card number — together with its encryption, this makes it harder for your card to get skimmed.


Batteries in Coin can last around two years of daily usage, and you will have to replace it with a new one if you want to continue using Coin. Coin can work outside of the U.S. but users are advised to bring their cards as backup, just in case. Coin does not support chip and pin cards, however, future generations of Coin will include EMV.

Buy Coin

Coin is available in two colors (Snow and Midnight), and is currently available for pre-order at a price of $55 (inclusive of shipping fee). It will reach you during the summer of 2014. The current introductory price of $55 is limited to early birds as Coin will retail at $100.



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