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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Smartphones Could Predict The Next Major Disease Outbreak – Expert

Dr. Leslie Saxon, who founded the Center for Body Computing at USC in Los Angeles, said she envisions a future in which smartphones will enable the collection of biometric data that will be used for everything from individual medical records to predicting the next major disease outbreak.

She said this while speaking on a biometrics-themed panel at SXSW. “Imagine if you’re checking your phone 150 times a day — which is the average — what if sometimes you’re getting a facial scan that measures your blood pressure, your heart rate, something else and you’re collecting this massive biometric cloud in the sky while you’re just opening stuff,” Saxon said during a packed panel at SXSW. “With this type of density of data just from the invisible — just from opening devices — you could potentially be transforming healthcare. The crazy part of that is you could scale that really globally.”

Part of that scale is analyzing all that data to find larger trends and insights before researchers would otherwise be able to spot them. This could potentially help scientists and medical researchers spot serious outbreaks — like the recent ebola outbreak that began in west Africa — earlier. “I imagine this day where, as much as everyone walking around here is immersed in their alternative digital reality that healthcare is a a part of that,” Saxon said. If we have enough of this biometric data then we can predict ebola and things like that very early on.”

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