App that can detect jaundice in newborns in a jiffy
Posted on Aug 28 2014 | IANS
Washington, Aug 28 : A team of US engineers including an Indian-origin researcher has developed a smartphone app that checks for jaundice in newborns and can deliver results to parents and pediatricians within minutes.
It could serve as a screening tool to determine whether a baby needs a blood test - the gold standard for detecting high levels of bilirubin.
The team ran a clinical study with 100 newborns and their families at University of Washington's medical centre.
They found that the app called BiliCam performed as well as or better than the current screening tools.
BiliCam uses a smartphone's camera and flash and a colour calibration card the size of a business card.
A parent or health care professional would download the app, place the card on her baby's belly, then take a picture with the card in view.
The card calibrates and accounts for different lighting conditions and skin tones.
Data from the photo are sent to the cloud and are analysed by algorithms, and a report on the newborn's bilirubin levels is sent almost instantly to the parent's phone.
"This is a way to provide peace of mind for the parents of newborns. The advantage of doing the analysis in the cloud is that our algorithms can be improved over time," explained Shwetak Patel, an associate professor of computer science and engineering at University of Washington.