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Increasingly, as our smart phones and mobile devices integrate themselves into every aspect of our lives, it has become an almost obvious step to incorporate them into maintaining our health. The array of fitness apps for iOS and Android is almost overwhelming, and the breadth of accessories has made this market saturated with all manner of fitness gadgets from pulse monitoring wristbands to smart body weight analysers and activity trackers.
The usual response for many is to ignore this rising trend in everyday mobile tech and fitness meeting. However, many in the healthcare industry are looking very seriously towards smart mobile technology for the future of Healthcare. Biomeme, a company and entrepreneurial project, backed by and sponsored by Dreamit Ventures, have created a device and accessory that works with the iPod or iPhone to transform it into a powerful means to scan, replicate and analyse DNA.
The device uses specialist medical and geneticist technology known as a real-time qPCR thermocycler, which examines and magnifies trace amounts of DNA in far more easily monitorable quantities. These amazing devices can easily and accurately locate potential abnormalities and genetic diseases, but usually cost thousands of pounds and are often only affordable to the world’s wealthiest, and often specialist, medical practices. Naturally, this means that most hospitals globally miss out on this kind of equipment, but this may all be about to change. Through this portable mobile accessory, this technology has been reduced drastically in size and, although an official price-tag hasn’t been confirmed, Biomeme guarantees its product will be set at a drastically reduced price to its larger predecessors, with a price in the hundreds rather than thousands of pounds currently. This makes it accessible to both smaller and poorer clinics around the world, and even interested everyday individuals.
By using your iPod or iPhone’s processor and hardware to do all the hard calculation, this neat little device is able to cut down on all the big chunky hardware it would traditionally have incorporated into it. Simply connecting via Bluetooth and slotting onto the back of your mobile, it only requires you to then hook it up to one of the various disease testing kits sold separately, and it’s completely ready to use for the functional analysis of genes, the diagnosis of hereditary diseases, the identification of a genetic fingerprint, and the detection and diagnosis of infectious diseases. The start-up company behind this technology is already promoting and working on distribution in South America and Africa, allowing mobile labs to upload feedback and share results from using the device for other doctors to view and map. And although currently there is still limited support for mobile healthcare technologies in the US, the company has already set its sights globally with the device.
With the progression, development and spread of devices such as this in the not too distant future, we could all routinely and swiftly be able to one day home test for many of the diseases so many of us neglect or never even consider getting tested for due to various reasons. It could even promote simple, quick and easy home testing for often still unfairly stigmatised diseases, hopefully leading to processes such as HIV testing becoming as simple as a few finger taps on your mobile device.
Although the first to benefit from these new and relatively cheap devices will be medical institutions around the world, it’s easy to see the benefits for everyday people as this technology continues to cheapen and become increasingly widespread, with technology leading to a fairer healthcare system, whereby we can all easily identify our healthcare needs comfortably regardless of wealth or geographical location.