UW seeks 25,000 volunteers to try outbreak app

Coronavirus app
Smartphone app
All that’s needed to participate in the HIPPOCRATIC experiment is an Android or Apple smartphone with an internet connection. (UW Medicine via YouTube)

Can a smartphone app generate an early warning for an outbreak of coronavirus, flu, colds or other infections? A project funded by the Pentagon with an assist from the University of Washington aims to find out.

UW Medicine is recruiting 25,000 people nationwide for an app-based experiment called HIPPOCRATIC (which stands for Health and Injury Prediction and Prevention Using Complex Reasoning and Analytic Techniques Integrated on a Cellphone App … with a bit of poetic license.).

The app is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which serves as the Pentagon’s technological think tank.

If the app does what researchers hope, it could provide data for quicker medical diagnoses, and keep people who are ill from returning to school, work or military duty too soon.

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‘Star Trek’ vet George Takei beams up to TraceMe

George Takei
George Takei, who played Sulu on the original “Star Trek” TV series, flashes a Vulcan salute along with the kitchen staff at the Los Angeles restaurant where he celebrated his 81st birthday. (@GeorgeTakei via Twitter)

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson may be the founder of the TraceMe fan networking platform, but to hear George Takei tell it, the inspiration could have come from “Star Trek.”

“It is almost ‘Star Trek’ coming true,” Takei, who played Mr. Sulu on the original sci-fi TV series, told GeekWire.

Takei may be a bit biased — not only because of his experience with the progressive, diversity-promoting space show of the ’60s and the original-cast movies that followed, but also because he’s the latest celebrity to join the TraceMe team.

As of today, Takei will be contributing to content channels on the TraceMe app, holding forth on favorite topics ranging from science fiction to immigration to LGTBQ equality to his trademark “Oh Myyyy” internet memes. There’s also a channel called “The Takei Files,” which will include videos paying tribute to people and ideas that Takei admires.

Takei promises “to offer original content to my devoted fans that they won’t find anywhere else, in a safe environment that ill encourage them to interact with each other and me.”

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Smartphone selfie system seeks cancer signs

Smartphone selfie system
A 3-D-printed viewing box holds a smartphone in place to take a picture of the user’s eyes. The BiliScreen app analyzes the eye image to look for signs of jaundice, which could point to pancreatic cancer. (University of Washington Photo / Dennis Wise)

University of Washington researchers have created a smartphone app that can let users screen themselves for pancreatic cancer and other diseases by taking a selfie.

But not just any selfie.

The BiliScreen app is designed to focus in on the whites of your eyes. If your whites have an overly yellowish tinge, that could suggest you have increased levels of a compound known as bilirubin. That’s a sign of jaundice, and also one of the earliest indicators of pancreatic cancer.

The first effects on the whites of a person’s eyes, also known as the sclera, are too subtle to be noticeable to the naked eye. Heightened levels typically show up in blood tests, but the UW team says BiliScreen can serve as an effective, low-cost, low-impact screening tool.

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UW ‘genius’ gets health apps set for startup

Bangladesh app trial
Doctors at a clinic in Bangladesh observe the use of the SpiroSmart app to measure lung function. (UW Photo)

BOSTON – University of Washington computer scientist Shwetak Patel’s work with sensors and smart devices has already spawned a wide range of ventures, but his latest experiments hold the promise of revolutionizing health screening worldwide.

Patel and his colleagues are using smartphones, and even not-so-smartphones, as monitoring devices for health metrics ranging from pulmonary function to hemoglobin counts.

The phone apps – including SpiroSmart and SpiroCall, HemoApp and OsteoApp – are currently going through the Food and Drug Administration’s clearance process for clinical testing. But once they pass muster, they’re likely to become the focus for Senosis Health, a venture co-founded by Patel that’s currently in semi-stealth mode.

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NASA spotlights cloud app for citizen scientists

Image: GLOBE Observer app
NASA’s GLOBE Observer app lets anyone become a citizen scientist by collecting observations of clouds. (Credit: NASA GLOBE Observer)

One of NASA’s longest-running citizen science programs isn’t just for kids anymore: A newly released app called GLOBE Observer can turn any smartphone user into a cloud researcher.

And we don’t mean “cloud” in the computing sense. A program called Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment, or GLOBE, is looking for a wide range of cloud imagery that can feed into climate research.

“Clouds are one of the most important factors in understanding how climate is changing now, and how it’s going to change in the future,”  Holli Riebeek Kohl, NASA lead for the GLOBE Observer project, explained today in a news release.

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