In the fiercely competitive landscape of mobile handsets it sometimes seems difficult to stand out from the competition. All the makers of these devices are continuously fishing for features consumers might be interested in, and in contemporary times we have seen that they have especially picked up on the current personal health obsession (and it is probably fair to claim that this has been preceded by centered thinking around ‘social’ applications). However, whereas many brands still are contemplating new features tied to work-out or sleep, some are looking even further ahead.
As it turns out, Samsung has been conducting a quite interesting medical project during the last two years. The mission is to create a wearable sensor that monitors brainwaves in order to detect symptoms signaling that a patient might soon suffer a stroke. These efforts were recently presented in the form of a prototype device called the Early Detection Sensor & Algorithm Package (EDSAP). According to the company, the objective for the stroke detector is to provide early warning, so that those at risk can visit the doctor for a proper diagnosis with sufficient time to prevent the potentially tragic consequences of a stroke.
According to the American Heart Association, 33 million people suffer from strokes each year (data from 2010) of which around 17 million are having their first stroke. In the U.S., it is the fourth most common cause of death with almost 130,000 people losing their life each year due to a stroke. Stroke is a leading cause of disability, but also the leading preventable cause of disability. So, since it is preventable, maybe it was only a matter of time before a tech giant tried to launch a battle against stroke – there are lives to be saved and probably also money to be made.
Moreover, in the company’s press release, Seung-Bong Hong, a neurologist at the Samsung Medical Center in Seoul and a medical advisor to the EDSAP project, stated the following:
“At Samsung Medical Center, we believe that EDSAP’s utility can be expanded and applied to other neurological health issues, such as depression”
This means that Samsung could be entering a field that is receiving increased attention. Mistbreaker earlier featured an article about how smartphones are finding applications within the mental health area. The article “Can our Smartphones Help Remedy Mental Health Problems?” included a number of relevant company examples, among them the widely acclaimed data and sensory driven application from Ginger.io, so check it out for a fuller picture. If Samsung or any other company would be entering the field with a neurologically inclined solution, it would probably provide an even deeper source of information regarding the widespread conditions affecting our state of mind and mental well-being. With this mentioned, we should continue to focus on its currently aimed-for application regarding strokes.
In these days, if a person suspects that something is wrong and goes to the hospital, it takes 15 minutes to perform brainwave monitoring. Here, the tech giant finds room for great improvement. You see, Samsung’s stroke detector would be easily applied in your own home and is said to be able to perform the same task significantly faster. According to Engadget, the EDSAP collects brainwave info and beams it wirelessly to the companion device, determining the chances of a stroke within 60 seconds. Here is a short news piece about the invention:
The stroke detector is equipped with sensors that transfer data to algorithms that allow you to observe your brainwaves on your smartphone, tablet or computer to make sure you are not at risk. Techworm reports that the EDSAP algorithm is based on analysis of countless stroke patient brainwave data, which is combined with a range of artificial intelligence and signal processing software to deliver a reliable diagnosis. Moreover, CNET writes that the device is made from a conductive and comfortable rubber-like material which means that no one needs to apply any saline solution onto your head before get analyzed, as is the case in hospitals today.
The project is of course still in the R&D phase, but the results are very promising this far. It is part of a much larger movement of self-health-checks, and last year we saw promising research in anything from heart monitoring to cancer detection (see the article “The Large List of Technologies that will go BIG in 2015”, under the headline ’Sensor Explosion’). Once again, we see that we live in incredibly exciting times. When researchers are turning to algorithms, sensors and robots to cure us and prevent us from disease, we almost elevate our selves above biology. Technology might bring us solutions we previously only could dream of, within a quite proximate future.