A while back I was handling the PR for a company that did, well practically everything, and so naturally this included a combination of work with mobile phones and diagnostic kits.
This basically meant that the soft and hardware for a raft of electronic medical devices ranging from a simple heart pressure monitor to a cholesterol test etc. etc. could be installed into a mobile (or a watch for that matter). This could then link to the interweb and Robert’s your father’s brother – you have a home diagnostic test that could constantly monitor and look out for any bad symptoms or changes.
Now it seems that the Finish company. Yes that one. It that must not be named. Oh alright, Nokia. Anyway, Nokia’s resident futurologist, Leo KÃ¤rkkÃ¤inen, has suggested something a little more extreme may happen.
In an interview with the news agency AFP Leo (I won’t spell his surname again) suggested amongst many other things that the “Nokia Research Center is already carrying out trials on mobile phones that could help diagnose illnesses on the spot, helping areas in the world where a doctor or trained medical staff are not readily available.”
Nokia itself points out on its website:
[It raises] interesting questions such as would you entrust such important â€˜life and deathâ€™ matters to a mobile device? Itâ€™s also worth considering whether such medically enabled handsets will be readily available to the untrained hand. Will users have to be medically qualified to operate them? Questions we’re keen to pose to the NRC team, and points that we’ll be following up on.
Of course this development is barely embryonic in terms of how far it’s been developed, and we still donâ€™t know to what extent these device’s diagnoses powers (accuracy and reliability being the key issues) extend to. Nonetheless, to have such a device in the pocket in emergency situations could help massively in determining the course of action, and is unquestionably a seismic shift in terms of our vision for what mobile hardware could be capable of.
Having seen the implications whilst handling the PR way back when there is one major question I’d have to ask – what would be done with this data? I’m not going to complain if it saves my life but I’d need to see some safeguards in place to make sure an insurance company didn’t buy this information. I doubt Nokia is as tightlipped as the British NHS.