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A crowdsourced map of human health

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A crowdsourced map of human health

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Tapping into health related data from the social web has become quite a common trend over the past few years.  Increasingly however, researchers are attempting to tap into the data produced by mobile devices to help produce the kind of visual maps that we are accustomed to seeing for weather forecasts.

Central to this of course are the kind of mobile devices being produced as part of the Tricorder X Prize that I covered last year.  There is a $10 million bounty for the first device that can accurately diagnose 15 diseases in 30 patients across 3 days using nothing but a mobile device.

A team of researchers from the University of California San Diego are looking to use data from Tricorder style devices to map both health and environmental issues in real time.  The team, led by Albert Yu-Min Lin and Eliah Aronoff-Spencer, co-directors of the Distributed Health Lab, have already built a prototype that can test for both health and environmental problems.  The device connects up to a smartphone, thus enabling the data to be shared and analysed.

The team have launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo in a bid to raise a further $50,000 for future development of the device.  Their aim is to send out 1,000 devices in 2014 to cover projects in America, China, Mongolia, Haiti and Mozambique.

Eventually they hope to distribute over 1 million of the devices to create a widely distributed citizen science network.  I think the Tricorder competition is one of the most exciting open innovation challenges at the moment, and the potential implications for global health could be enormous.  The winners of it are due to be announced in May, and it’s well worth keeping an eye on.

You can learn more about the UCSD project via the video below.

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