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article imageGoogle buys startup that uses smartphones as health monitors

By James Walker     Aug 15, 2017 in Technology
Google has acquired a startup that uses smartphones as medical devices capable of monitoring several vital stats. The company has created a series of mobile apps that use simple smartphone hardware, such as the camera and mic, to detect health issues.
Senosis Health was founded by University of Washington computer scientist Shwetak Patel. Along with four other researchers, he has worked to give smartphones an important role in the medical industry. Senosis Health has now been acquired by Google for an unknown sum, GeekWire reported today.
The company has developed apps that interpret data from the cameras, microphones and accelerometers of modern smartphones to look for the presence of different diseases. It has technology capable of measuring blood flow by shining the flash at a finger or identifying lung problems such as asthma by using the mic to listen for breathing.
Google hasn't officially commented on the acquisition or confirmed its existence. The purchase aligns well with the company’s growing portfolio of healthcare products, an industry the search giant's increasingly interested in. Healthcare is becoming one of the fastest growing areas of technology, led by Google's DeepMind AI division and the work of Apple's HealthKit team.
Google now displays quick information on common medical symptoms
Google now displays quick information on common medical symptoms
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Companies across tech are aiming to use consumer gadgets to create the next generation of diagnostic devices. Smartphones already contain an impressive array of sensors. Firms are now beginning to realise they could be used to perform early diagnosis outside of a hospital environment.
Senosis' technology is perhaps the most accomplished example of the concept so far, offering a suite of products that demonstrate the potential impact of smartphone health solutions. The technology could be instrumental in achieving good healthcare standards in isolated regions of the world.
A man using a smartphone
A man using a smartphone
gailjadehamilton (CC BY-ND 2.0)
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In areas where medical equipment is scarce, smartphone users could self-diagnose themselves. Serious issues could be identified more quickly, allowing hospitals to prioritise patients for a formal diagnosis. Patel told GeekWire he's "always been interested in solving grand challenges," strongly indicating the value he places in Senosis Health's technology.
The company currently has a small team of around a dozen people. There's no word yet on where they'll be assigned to within Alphabet, Google's parent company. GeekWire said its sources indicated Senosis' employees are likely to work out of Seattle on a new "digital health effort."
The details of the arrangement remain unclear, including the financial side of the acquisition. Senosis was preparing to raise a series A funding round when Google began to approach it. This was apparently abandoned as the companies committed to the deal.
More about Google, Health, deepmind, senosis health, Medicine
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