Researcher turns the iPhone into a portable medical lab; no tricorder just yet

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While I might find it difficult to find a good Chinese restaurant with my iPhone, researchers at the University of Sydney want to turn that little gadget you keep in your pocket into a portable laboratory.

James Heathers, a PhD candidate at the University’s School of Psychology, recently created an app that can record and examine slight changes in the heart rate of the wearer during the day. According to the University of Sydney, the software incorporates technology that keeps track on the heart rate of athletes as they work out. Heathers focuses more on the emotional workout such as stress, excitement, or anything else that might raise a person’s heart rate.

University of Sydney

What’s truly remarkable about the technology behind this app is how it lets doctors or researchers monitor a person's heart rate out in the field so they don't have to visit the lab for testing. Researchers can now get real-world readings in the real world.

As Heathers mentions in the article, “By providing people with a sensor and then using their smartphone to process the data we are no longer tied down to booking appointments in a university laboratory, and can record dozens of separate data streams at the same time.”

This may just be one small step for a researcher who's looking to collect data in the most efficient manner, but it could also open the door for other such apps to monitor a person's condition throughout the day. Imagine a world where sensors implanted in the body send signals to your iPhone reminding you to take an insulin shot or warning you ahead of time of seizures.

This also means that the next generation of kids will face the unflinching judgment of an app rather than a worried mother. You'll just have to find a new excuse to get out of that science exam.

If it works out as planned, the research here may open doors for others looking to collect data from a larger population but don’t have the resources to bring everyone into an office. We may still be decades away from that Star Trek tricorder that I always wanted, but with the help of apps like this, we are looking at a brighter and healthier future.

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This story, "Researcher turns the iPhone into a portable medical lab; no tricorder just yet" was originally published by TechHive.

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