Low-cost Anemia Screener Connects to Health Workers’ Cell Phones

Concept: To display test results, the HemoGlobe anemia screening device is slipped onto a patient’s finger and connected with a health worker’s cell phone. [Credit: JHU]
It’s estimated that 600,000 newborns and 100,000 mothers in developing countries die of anemia each year. Biomedical engineering undergraduates at Johns Hopkins have developed a low-cost screening device that works with health workers’ cell phones to help combat this devastating disease.

“This device has the potential to be a game-changer. It will equip millions of health care workers across the globe to quickly and safely detect and report this debilitating condition in pregnant women and newborns. The team members realized that every community health worker already carries a powerful computer in their pocket — their cell phone. So we didn’t have to build a computer for our screening device, and we didn’t have to build a display.”

Soumyadipta Acharya, assistant research professor, Johns Hopkins’ Department of Biomedical Engineering

The noninvasive, “prick-free” device, which goes by the name HemoGlobe, is able to detect and report anemia at the community level. To measure blood hemoglobin levels, the HemoGlobe sensor shines various wavelengths of light through the skin on a patient’s fingertip. The color-coded test results are then displayed on a cell phone’s screen.

The results are also used to create a real-time map that shows the prevalence of anemia, which helps health workers follow-up and distribute additional resources.

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-07/jhu-uic072412.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

Tweets Provide New Insight into Bullying Behaviors and Roles

Researchers have historically had a difficult time studying bullies and their victims. Now, researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are getting a much more in-depth view of bullying by studying interactions on Twitter.

“What we found, very importantly, was that quite often the victim and the bully and even bystanders talk about a real-world bullying incident on social media. The computers are seeing the aftermath, the discussion of a real-world bullying episode.”

 — Jerry Zhu, computer sciences professor, UW–Madison

The researchers have used machine learning to teach computers to comb through more than 250 million public Twitter posts a day. The work has identified more than 15,000 tweets per day related to bullying.

In addition to bullies, victims, accusers, and defenders – bullying roles identified by independent researchers in the early ‘90s – the researchers have identified a fifth role: that of “reporters.”

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-08/uow-lms080112.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

Musical Glove Helps People with Spinal Injuries

Musical Glove
The Mobile Music Touch “musical glove” has been used successfully by people with sensory limitations in their hands. (Credit: Georgia Institute of Technology)

Researchers at Georgia Tech, working together with Shepherd Center, have developed a wireless device that helps improve sensation and motor skills in people who have experienced a paralyzing spinal cord injury (SCI).

The Mobile Music Touch (MMT) glove was originally intended for use with a piano keyboard. When used in tandem with a computer, MP3 player, or smart phone, the glove vibrates the wearer’s fingers so they know what keys to play.

Equipment used for hand rehabilitation may seem monotonous and boring to some, and doesn’t provide any feedback or incentive. Mobile Music Touch overcomes each of those challenges and provides surprising benefits for people with weakness and sensory loss due to SCI. It’s a great example of how wearable computing can change people’s lives.”

— Thad Starner, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology

Some users who had experienced spinal cord injuries found the sensation in their fingers improved while they were using the device. Additional research is looking into the users’ experiences with the glove. Ph.D. graduate Tanya Markow, the project’s leader, hopes to expand the study and include functional MRI results.

How is technology changing your life for the better? Seriously — I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-07/giot-mgi071712.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

Global Biodiversity Forecasting and Response System to Embrace Information, Networking Technologies

At the Global Biodiversity Informatics Conference (GBIC) held in Copenhagen, Denmark earlier this month, experts from around the globe agreed on key priorities for using information technologies and social networks to help understand life on Earth.

The focus of the work is on “how biodiversity can continue to sustain human lives and livelihoods.”

Information networks support and permeate nearly every aspect of our daily lives in areas such as banking, commerce and entertainment. We still do not have this kind of rich, globally-interconnected system for understanding and monitoring life on Earth. We know a lot about species, genetics, and ecology, but we can’t easily put this information together into a working knowledge system. This conference has given us a roadmap toward this goal.”

“Over the last quarter century, thousands of talented people have been working hard to bring essential biodiversity data onto the web. Much has already been achieved or is under development. GBIC has reinforced how important these activities are, and at the same time has outlined a path for us to build from where we are and deliver a rich globally-connected system for understanding and monitoring multiple aspects of biodiversity.”

— Donald Hobern, Executive Director, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)

The overarching goal is to support collaborative biodiversity observation on a global level so that short-term changes and longer-term trends can be identified and appropriate responses can be enabled.

Next steps include developing an “outlook document” that will prioritize biodiversity informatics in order to create forecasting and response capabilities like those used in forecasting the weather and detecting earthquakes.

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-07/gbif-bgc070612.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

3D Cold Virus Model Gives Researchers New Angles for Defense

This is a surface rendering of the common cold virus. [Credit: Mike Kuiper, VLSCI].
With the help of Australia’s fastest supercomputer, researchers are using 3D simulation technologies to better understand the most frequent cause of the common cold. Their work is helping to pave the way for the development of new drug therapies.

Supercomputer technology enables us to delve deeper in the mechanisms at play inside a human cell, particularly how drugs work at a molecular level. This work offers exciting opportunities for speeding up the discovery and development of new antiviral treatments and hopefully save many lives around the world.”

— Professor Michael Parker, SVI

The team includes researchers from St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research (SVI) and the University of Melbourne as well as computational biologists from IBM and the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI).

The supercomputer being used by the team, the IBM Blue Gene/Q, is ranked currently as Australia’s fastest. It is also, according to the release, “the most powerful supercomputer dedicated to life sciences research in the Southern Hemisphere.”

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-07/uom-3mo071612.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

Phone Apps Planned for Stroke Patients, Caregivers

SUNY Downstate Medical Center has received an award to develop mobile phone apps to help enhance stroke patient care.

The federally funded Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has awarded $500,000 to SUNY Downstate Medical Center to develop applications for mobile phones designed to help stroke patients and their caregivers.

…progress has been limited in providing successful mobile technology to help patients manage cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases and other illnesses. Nevertheless, there is enormous potential for patients and their caregivers to improve health outcomes through this technology, including among the elderly, minorities, and those of limited financial means, who are often most in need of better care. We are looking to develop a model program that will address stroke risk and disease management that will be applicable to other conditions as well.”

— Steven R. Levine, MD, professor of neurology and emergency medicine, SUNY Downstate

The planned smartphone apps will make possible better identification and make it easier to manage healthcare needs and risk factors. The award is part of PCORI’s Pilot Projects Program, whose mission is to support research designed to offer patients, caregivers, and clinicians information to make better healthcare decisions.

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-07/sdmc-sdr070912.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

Paralyzed Artist Writes and Paints Again with Help from Open Source Community

When L.A. street artist Tony “Tempt One” Quan was diagnosed with ALS, the disease left him virtually paralyzed. It looked like he would never paint or write again.

What happened next, though, would be practically unbelievable if it were to take place within a work of art. The documentary that tells this story, however, has captivated the minds of all who’ve seen it.

Now, the story of how open-source technology has given Quan a second chance to create is also getting a second chance of sorts before being released more widely.

This film NEEDS to be seen by people.”

— The most common viewer comment after seeing the film

The documentary, Getting Up: The TEMPT ONE Story, which was the recipient of the 2012 Audience Award  at the Slamdance Film Festival, needs some technical upgrading before it is more widely released. The goal behind the project: “Our purpose is to inspire people to see that when a singular individual teams up with a like-minded community, the once impossible becomes possible.”

How is technology changing your life for the better?

To get involved and learn more about this inspiring story, check out http://kck.st/KKYsG3

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

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