Tag Archives: mobile apps

New mHealth App to Fight Disease in the Developing World

Colorimetrix, a new smartphone app, could serve as a health care game changer in developing nations.  The app, which was developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge, measures color based saliva or urine tests through the phone’s camera. The user takes a picture of a test strip that has been placed in the solution, and the app uses an algorithm to transmit the results into a readable number.  Results can then be sent to healthcare providers or specialists for analysis in real time.

This app has the potential to transform the current means of patient screening.  It provides quick, low-cost and portable diagnostics that can be transferred to medical professionals around the globe within seconds.  Patients are also able to monitor chronic conditions, such as diabetes, with this app. Also, because patients are able to transmit results information so quickly, Colorimetrix may be able to slow or limit the spread of pandemic diseases by communicating with community healthcare professionals.  “This app has the potential to help in the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in the developing world, bringing the concept of mobile healthcare to reality,” said Ali Yetisen, a PhD student in the Department of Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology.

There are some major strengths to this app, the main one being how quickly it can connect patient data to physicians to interpret the results. This would cut down on hospital expenses, empower patients, and allow for less waiting time in health clinics.  On the other hand, systemic healthcare problems and technological capacity within many developing nations may inhibit this app from reaching its full potential.  Lack of trained healthcare providers to interpret results and low bandwidth in developing countries may pose barriers to the adoption of this app.


Apple Increases App Store Security

Use of mobile phones has been drastically increasing, especially throughout the developing world. In more recent times, the use of smart phones has been at the forefront of this drastic increase, even in the developing world where it is happening slowly but surely. The use of Apple iPhones and iPads are some of the most common types of smart phone technologies that have been exploding everywhere. With the growth of this use there has also been a dramatic growth in use of Apple mobile apps. Because of these apps, people now have the ability to do many things. Amongst some of these things, is the ability to store massive amounts of very important information in a single handheld device. Therefore, because of this extreme increase in use, there has also been a rapidly growing amount of attacks aimed at Apple users in attempts by hackers to take over their accounts. A prime example is that these accounts are being used by hackers to purchase expensive apps.

As of only a few days ago, Apple launched a new security campaign to tackle this issue and further increase their measures to prevent an account from being compromised. These new security measures now asks users to choose from three security questions and answers in order to download an app from the app store. Also, they are now requiring a back-up email to be created just incase the primary email is in any way compromised. For all you Apple users out there, if this has not happened to you yet do not fret because so far this additional security measure is only aimed at accounts that may have previously triggered a red flag for some reason.

This new security measure that is beginning to be launched throughout Apple products may at first be viewed as extra precautionary and kind of annoying and at even times confusing to users. However it is essential that companies take heed to Apple’s example and begin to set up security measures like this as well. Security with mobile phones use is an ever increasing concern as use of mobile phones, especially smart phones, is expanding all over the world in both developed and developing countries alike. Hopefully other mobile phone companies will begin to develop measures such as this in order to protect mobile users as much as possible.

Apple Ratchets up App Store Security 

Mobile Midwife

One of the largest problems facing the developing world is the lack of access to medical care. This poses a very large issue for women in developing countries when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. In the developed world where there is easier access to healthcare and health knowledge, women go through the process with much greater ease. Women in the developing world do not have nearly the same access to books, internet, or regular visits with healthcare professionals. Thus, they do not have the same access to health knowledge which is very important while going through a pregnancy.

Although these women in developing countries have very limited access to medical care, a very high portion of them have mobile phones. This can open up a whole new world for them when it comes to increases in ICTs in the health sector. Through a mobile phone, there are many ways women can seek the particular healthcare they might not otherwise have access to. If they have access to smart-phones, which is a growing trend in the developing world, their access to this mobile healthcare can increase even more through mobile apps.

Through collaboration with the Grameen Foundation, BabyCenter, Columbia University, and the Ghana Health Service, a new mobile app called the “Mobile Midwife” has been created to help women in developing countries go through pregnancy with much more knowledge and ease. This initiative has the objective “to promote healthy pregnancies by encouraging women to seek prenatal care, debunking myths about pregnancy and childbirth, and offering advice on topics such as delivery, breastfeeding, immunization and good nutrition.” This app has the ability to do great things and help women throughout all stages of pregnancy and even afterwards. Once more people in the developing world gain access to smart-phones, this app can do a lot more for an even greater number of people.

Source: Mobile Midwive

Mobile Devices Monitor Health

In the New York Times article “Monitoring Your Health with Mobile Devices”, Dr. Eric Topol jokingly commented that “the smartphone is the future of medicine–because most of his patients already seem ‘surgically connected’ to one”, but this statement is becoming a reality.  In today’s age, most people are too busy taking care of their families, working, and attending school to take a day off to visit a doctor.  With the assistance of smartphones, many people will have access to apps and relatively low-priced attachments that measure health statistics such as heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, and a plethora of others.  In addition to providing patients with information about their current health state, this information can be sent to doctors to further evaluate and to determine if a follow up appointment will be necessary.

Of course, these methods of health measurement will have a certain percentage of error and will not be 100% accurate, but the immediate access to these statistics can assist people who do not have the time, money, or opportunity to attend regular doctor appointments to monitor themselves more closely.

Although the majority of developing countries do not have a high rate of smartphone access, even having a few smartphones per community with a connection to a doctor will help improve overall health tremendously.  If a patient believes that he or she may be in need of care, but has difficulty finding transportation to a health care professional, he or she can send information to the doctor and receive feedback or perhaps a recommendation to see another professional who is located closer to the patient’s home.

The new technology associated with mobile devices is incredible and the more availability to these technological services that can be spread worldwide, the faster the developing world can better themselves and further innovation.

Closing the Gap in Indigenous Australia with Mobile Journalism

Throughout the world, there are many digital divides that exist both between developed and developing countries as well as between different subgroups within countries. Although more commonly digital divides exist within the developing world, there are many instances existing in the developed world such as between different marginalized groups of a population. More recently, there has been a large digital divide between the marginalized indigenous people of Australia and the rest of the population. Many of these people live in remote villages in the Northern Territory of Australia where acces to more mainstream aspects of Australian culture are limited.

A new project funded by the Australian government, partnered with Burum Media and the Batchelor Institue of Indigenous Tertiary Education, is working to fight against the growing gap between the indigenous Australians and the rest of the population. The NT Mojos project’s goal is to increase the number of mobile journalist (Mojos). To do this, the project goes into remote villages and picks multiple candidates that will be trained to use the technology which is through an app on the iPhone 4. These trained reporters will be able to create and then share stories about things going on in their communities with the rest of Australia by posting them on a government website. This in turn will hopefully lessen the marginalized view of indigenous life that most Australians hold of them.

Another issue faced within indigenous societies is lack of education and literacy. The NT Mojo project will also fight to increase literacy rates. They have stated that the project will teach “story-telling first and technology second.” People will begin to think about stories and issues in their communities and have a chance to think of creative ways to convey them. This innovative ICT directed towards helping the indigenous people has many benefits such as increasing literacy rates and publicizing the daily life of indigenous communities to the rest of Australia. Hopefully this will bridge the widening gap and help to decrease the profound digital divide.


iVacuate App

Evacuteer was founded by Robert Fogarty in 2009 in New Orleans. The organization provides volunteers to aid people during hurricane evacuations. In that same year and in the same city. Calliope Digital was founded by Chris Van Buskirk. The company develops various mobile apps; several of which are specifically for people in New Orleans. The mission of the company is to develop high value products which are superior to its competitors.  In 2010, these two organizations worked together to develop an application (app) called iVacuate. Calliope Digital’s Chris Van Buskirk and Clare Durrett were the main designers of the app while Evacuteer provided some of the content. The idea behind iVacuate emerged from the experiences of  Buskirk and Durrett as evacuees of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Gustav. The pair realized that the stress and difficulties of an evacuation could be alleviated with the aid of technology. With the advent of iPhones and apps, they decided to create an app which would aid people during and in preparation for evacuations.

Two versions of the app were created: a basic version and a more comprehensive version, created specifically for the residents of New Orleans.  The basic version was targeted for people living in the Gulf Coast states who each year faced the threats of hurricanes and the stress of evacuations. The basic version consisted of the hurricane preparedness list, list of essential items you should include with any evacuation, photo gallery to record your belongings for insurance purposes, preparing your pet for an evacuation, and weather updates for hurricanes. The New Orleans version contained those same features, but included current pick up locations for those evacuating through the City Assisted Evacuation Plan and contraflow maps of I-10 W, I-55 N, and 1-59 N. The New Olreans version costs $4.99 on iTunes, but for those who are not willing to pay as much for an app can buy the basic version for $1.99.

According to Chris Van Buskirk, they believed the earnings from the app to be promising. After the first initial release of the application in 2010, he describe himself as “happy” with download numbers. In addition, the app was number 2 on iTunes of free weather apps for 4 weeks during that year’s hurricane season. However, they wanted the app to be free. Hearst Media showed interest in the application and so Calliope decided to license it to them and take their own version off the market. Instead, they partnered with WDSU to create a similar app which is currently available on iTunes for free.

However, there have been many strengths and weaknesses associated with both the iVacuate app and the WDSU app. With the number of evacuations in New Orleans, there is a definited need for this app. It provides integral information during an evacuation. For example, the maps feature something every evacuee desires as it is less of hassle than dealing with paper maps. In addition, contraflow procedures can be confusing for many drivers. The contraflow provides directions letting evacuees know which route to take if they would like to head to Texas versus Mississippi. The apps are very user-friendly. They are easy to navigate between the different features, and it is easy to read and understand information. In addition to the strengths, there are some weaknesses to the apps. The iVacuate was only available to a limited audience of iPhone users. However, the WDSU app is available in both iPhone and Android versions. Though, again, the app is limited to only smartphone users. Everyone cannot afford an iPhone and some may choose not to buy one. Thus some the features that are available on the app may not be available to the people for whom it would be most helpful. For example, the Pick-Up component would be most useful to those who cannot evacuate by themselves and lack their own mode of transportation. However, this group would include the low-income people and the elderly who would least likely have iPhones or other smartphones.

More information on the application can be found in this article by New Orleans Tech. More information about Calliope and Evacuteer can be found on their respective websites.

Mobile app Project Noah promotes environmental education and interaction

In 2009, Project NOAH was created by Yasser Ansari, with co-creators Martin Ceperly, Peter Horvath, and Bruno Kruse as part of New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. “NOAH” is actually an acronym for Networked Organisms and Habitats. The project began to see if the creators were able to create a fun interactive location-based application for citizens to interact with the environment. It has grown to include contributors from over 55 countries, and has been associated with a number of research projects.

Users are able to post pictures and data about specimen they find all over the world. Additionally, citizens are able to post pictures of a specimen for others to identify for them. Users are also able to match pictures already on the application in order to determine the species or information of a specimen they are questioning. Users earn patches based on number of submissions to the database, whether pictures themselves have taken, or helping identify pictures others have submitted. Patches help identify the reliability of certain data submissions

Finally, Project NOAH also has missions users are able to help with. These have included identifying ladybug or squirrel spottings for major university research projects. Currently, the Saguaro National Park is asking users to submit pictures of different organisms found in the park in order to help identify as many of the species present as possible. This program has become a huge success in a short period of time, having both fun and educational aspects to promoting environmental interactions.

You can check out the website at http://www.projectnoah.org, or download the mobile app for free on your iphone or android.