A camera that sees through the human body, a cancer-detecting app and a virtual reality game for dementia suffers. Check out these three amazing medtech innovations.
1) The camera that can see through the human body
Sci-fi fans will remember the scene from Total Recall where security staff use X-ray scanners to see through commuters’ bodies.
Now, scientists have taken imaging to a whole new level by inventing a camera that sees through the human body.
The camera works by detecting light sources, such as the illuminated tip of an endoscope’s long tube, inside the body. As a result, it is able to accurately locate and track the medical devices during internal examinations.
“It has immense potential for diverse applications such as the one described in this work,” said Prof. Kev Dhaliwal of the University of Edinburgh. “The ability to see a device’s location is crucial for many applications in healthcare, as we move forwards with minimally invasive approaches to treating disease.”
Early tests have shown the bedside device can track a point light source through 7in of tissue under normal conditions.
Until now, endoscopes have only been detectable using X-rays or other expensive techniques.
The project − led by the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University −is part of a collaboration aimed at developing new technologies for diagnosing and treating lung diseases.
2) Selfie app to detect pancreatic cancer
US medical clinicians and computer scientists are developing a selfie app to spot jaundice, an early symptom of pancreatic cancer.
The BiliScreen app measures the degree to which the sclera – or the white part of the eye – turns yellow in adults. Users are also required to wear either special glasses or a 3D-printed box.
In an initial study of 70 people, the app appeared to be roughly 90% as accurate as a blood test.
“So there are different uses we see for our application,” Alex Mariakaskis of the University of Washington told BBC News. “One of them is for screening. So maybe someone knows they are in a high-risk group. They could use this test periodically and see when they might need to start having a conversation with a doctor so they can start treatment sooner.
“The other application we have in mind is disease management. So maybe someone is already in the clinic, they’re getting treatment for a condition and they don’t want to have to go through a repeated blood draw every 24 hours. They might be able to use our app instead to get those same measurements.”
At present, pancreatic cancer only has a five-year survival rate. However, Cancer Research UK says the app needs to be subjected to much larger clinical trials to test its potential effectiveness.
3) Treating dementia using virtual reality
Dementia sufferers have difficulty navigating – so scientists have developed a virtual reality (VR) game to help test patients’ abilities.
Sea Hero Quest VR is based on a smartphone app with three million players. The original findings showed that someone’s sense of direction declines consistently after their teenage years. In addition, men appear to have a slightly better sense of direction than women.
However, game developer Glitchers and scientists at University College London, University of East Anglia and ETH Zurich hope that the VR version will allow them to gather much more data.
As many as two million people in the UK could be living with dementia by 2051.
“What we really want to be doing is identifying people with dementia 10 or 15 years earlier than we do at the moment,” said Dr David Reynolds of Alzheimer’s Research UK. “A game like Sea Hero Quest and understanding how we navigate will help us get to that much earlier diagnosis.”
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