Tag: iphone

3G Cellphone as Biotech Tool: “Cellular Phone Enabled Non-Invasive Tissue Classifier”

Posted by – July 5, 2009

A recent paper in PLoS ONE describes a diagnostic system which uses a common 3G cellphone with bluetooth to assist in point-of-care measurement of tissues, from tissue samples previously taken, with remote data analysis [1].  The hope, of course, is that this could be used for detecting cancer tissue vs. non-cancer tissue.  In general this technological approach is important for the following reasons: it allows data analysis across large populations with server-side storage of the data for later refinement; not all towns or cities will have expert medical staff to classify tissues at a hospital; and sending the sample to another city for classification takes time and creates measurement risk (mishandling, contamination, data entry error, biological degredation, etc).  Since the tissues are measured by a digital networked device, the results can be quickly sent to a central database for further analysis, or as I hint below, for geographically mapping medical data for bioinformatics.

From my interpretation, the complete system looks like this:

The probe electronics are described in [2]; unfortunately that article is not open access, so I can’t read it.  The probes located around the sample are switched to conduct in various patterns and a learning algorithm is used to isolate the probe pair with the optimal signal.  The sample is placed at the center of the petri dish and covered in saline.

Sending the raw data to a central server for analysis allows for complex pattern recognition across all samples collected; thus, the data analysis and the result can improve over time (better fitting algorithms or better weighting in the same algorithm).  The impedance analysis fits according to the magnitude, phase, frequency, and the probe pair.

The article does not explain the technologies used with the cell phone for communicating between the measurement side and the cellular side (USB / Bluetooth communication link, Java, E-mail application link, etc).  Though these technologies are cellphone specific, it is part of the method, and it is not described.  The iPhone would be a good candidate for this project as well.  A cellphone with integrated GPS would allow for location data to be sent to the server, which may be able to provide better number-crunching in the data processing algorithms, for recognition of geographic regions with high risk.

[1] Laufer S, Rubinsky B, 2009 Cellular Phone Enabled Non-Invasive Tissue Classifier. PLoS ONE 4(4): e5178. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005178

[2] Ivorra A, Rubinsky B (2007) In vivo electrical impedance measurements during and after electroporation of rat liver. Bioelectrochemistry 70: 287–295.

Apple iPhone 3.0 as next generation Biomedical device

Posted by – March 17, 2009

Apple’s developer preview today, of iPhone 3.0 software, included the interesting news of support for external accessories, either connected through the physical docking connector or through Bluetooth wireless.

A spokesman from Johnson & Johnson announced an iPhone-blood-pressure-monitor accessory, which provides health biometrics and allows the biometrics to be sent over the iPhone’s network connection as an emergency alert.  Their goal is to make diabetes monitoring easier.

The details of the new iPhone interface are in a thin draft document, External Accessory Framework Reference. This doesn’t include the hardware details necessary to connect arbitrary devices, though once it does, I’ll be hooking lots of different devices to the “iPhone-smart-phone-turned-general-purpose-minicomputer”.

I’m sure the game companies already have external joysticks in the works. A recent interview with Pangea software owner revealed their earnings of $1.5 million from downloads of a single iPhone game (Enigmo), with over 800,000 downloads. His biggest complaint: “no D-pad game controller.” Rest assured, that will be solved soon.

Games aside, the iPhone (or iTouch) offers a solid software environment which includes graphical presentation, ease of data entry, network support, wireless roaming, audio support, and now external device data accessories. This is exactly the kind of tool that medical and bioscience needs to help with a deluge of patients.