Nowadays it seems like there isn't much mobile phones can't do. Such devices deliver audio driving directions, in both male and female (electronic) voices. Phones with calendar applications remind you to wish your mother a happy birthday. Smartphones keep you connected to necessary corporate and personal information 24/7.
And if South Korean cell phone maker LG Electronics and a team of Canadian researchers have their way, folks will soon be able to measure and transmit vital signs via mobile phones to nurses or doctors.
Researchers from the University of Edmonton in Alberta and Canadian health system Capital Health, along with LG staffers, are currently working on a small sensor gadget that can measure vital signs, like temperature, heart rate and blood pressure, and then transmit them via cellular network to a doctor's office or remote health care professional, according to the CanWest News Service. Bob Haennel, chair of the university's physical therapy department, told CanWest that the monitors could eventually make their way into mobile phones, like recent MP3 players and cameras.
Users simply insert a fingertip into the device for a reading and then beam those numbers off to health care professionals.
Patients who need doctors or nurses to regularly monitor vital signs but who prefer staying home over repeated trips to the doctor's office--and who doesn't?--or folks who live in remote areas, could find the new device particularly useful.
The team also hopes to create a similar gadget in the future that can monitor diabetic patients' glucose levels and blood chemistry, according to the article.
The University of Alberta plans to test prototypes of the cell phone based vital-signs-monitor in its laboratories starting in January, and after nine months it expects to have determined whether or not the monitor is as accurate as such traditional vital sign measurement tools as blood pressure cuffs, ear thermometers and electrocardiograms.
Blood pressure measures are proving to be the most challenging, as it's apparently more difficult to get a good reading from a fingertip than the bicep using a cuff.
Cool stuff, but I really can't wait for the day the ol' BlackBerry can brew my morning java or at least toast the bagel...
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