Is there anything that's worse than having a child who might be suffering from an ear infection? (Other, of course, than being said child.) A new device hopes to make those cases easier to diagnose by taking advantage of the powers of your smartphone.
Like the Peek Portable Eye Exam Kit, CellScope's Oto Home is a medical device that attaches to your smartphone; in this case, it's an otoscope—the black conical doohickey that doctors use to look at your ear. While the Oto Home can't itself tell you whether or not someone is suffering from an ear infection, its companion app lets you take a video of the ear and send it to a medical professional, who can then hopefully diagnose the condition—and potentially even prescribe treatment.
That provides a number of benefits, such as not having to tote a crying child to the doctor's office where you wait interminably for your appointment. Instead, CellScope aims to have a response for you within two hours, which is probably less time than it would take to drive to the doctor's office, go through the appointment, and drive back.
The Oto Home itself costs $79, but each remote consultation costs $49 (when you buy the Oto Home, you get your first consultation for free). There's also a $299 professional version aimed at clinicians that enables the device to be used as a pneumatic otoscope, which lets doctors judge how the ear responds to changes in pressure. It also comes with HIPAA-compliant web storage, PDF exports for exams, and more. Right now, the device is only available for pre-order in California, and its included case is only compatible with the iPhone 5 and 5s, but more states and device compatibility are on the way.
The smartphone is proving to be a huge platform for medical devices. As with the Peek, equipment that used to cost hundreds or thousands of dollars can now be had for a fraction of that cost, in a form that is easy to transport, and in a package that also makes it easy for remote medicine. Not only does that potentially enable diagnoses without even leaving home, but it also brings quality medical care to places that a doctor may not be able to reach easily.
Really, the only downside is not getting free lollipops from the doctor's office—but we could probably all stand to cut back on the sugar, too.