Medical app uses augmented reality and camera phone to detect skin cancer

Here at iMedicalApps, we are especially interested in any developments in the mobile world which we can utilize as physicians to provide better healthcare and better outcomes for our patients.

We have seen great promise in the area of augmented reality with apps such as Hallux Angles which manipulate and analyze the world around us through the camera on a mobile smartphone. One area that has huge potential for this is dermatology, specifically suspicious moles.

In the past, we have questioned iPhone apps which suggest they can do this; however, we do recognize that this technology has a fundamental role to play in future years.

DoctorMole is a free Android app that uses augmented reality to analyze suspicious moles using the standard ABCDE approach in order to determine risk. While we and the app’s developers recognize this is absolutely and equivocally no substitute for qualified professional advice, we are intrigued by the innovation and promise this app holds.

Furthermore, in our tests we discovered this app was remarkably good at detecting malignant lesions.

DoctorMole uses augmented reality technology to scan your moles in real time and give you instant risk feedback on Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter and Risk (ABCDE). It is quick and easy to use and allows you to save any photo you have taken to compare for evolution changes at a later stage.

Upon opening the app, the user is presented with two basic options – Take Photo or Visit Photo Archive. DoctorMole is simple to use with each step clearly labeled highlighting how to accurately take pictures of a mole. The mole is placed within a labeled area and then the camera is focused and a detailed analysis of the photo presented.

In order to test the basic efficacy of the app, I searched for 10 images of malignant melanoma and then took pictures of these moles using the app. Each picture was analyzed and I was directed to go see a specialist. Furthermore, I tested the app using 10 images of benign moles using a similar method and was pleasantly surprised to see that the app was able to differentiate the risk.

Each stage of the ABCDE approach is explained in basic terms which can also aid patient education and, in particular, enable patients to recognize potential red flag moles.

Each photo is saved in an archive and can then be compared a number of months later to see if a mole has developed at all. This is a useful feature for patients who may be concerned and want to regularly manage a suspicious mole.

Price:

  • Free

Likes:

  • Information related to each risk factor in the ABCDE approach
  • Clear user interface with clear instructions for users

Dislikes:

  • Inability to export or share photos/information within the app

Overall Rating:

  • DoctorMole represents a fantastic step forward for telemedicine and teledermatology
  • While this app is absolutely no substitute for professional medical advice, should never replace professional advice, and never delay a patient seeking medical treatment/advice – it is a great example of how mobile technology has the potential to positively impact community healthcare and preventative medicine
  • Perhaps the only drawback to this app is that there was no way to share the results/photos taken with the app with your family physician, which would surely enhance the doctor-patient relationship.

Android link:

Author:

Tom Lewis

Editor, iMedicalApps.com

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10 Responses to Medical app uses augmented reality and camera phone to detect skin cancer

  1. Mark Shippen May 10, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    Thanks for the great review! Currently working on an IPhone version in my spare time.

    • Iltifat Husain, MD May 11, 2012 at 3:31 am #

      Nice, looking forward to it. Did you create the augmented reality algorithims yourself? Do you have a background in medicine?

      • Mark Shippen May 11, 2012 at 4:52 am #

        Yeah I wrote all the algorithms myself, biggest challenge was to get the speed down so that I could do it in real-time… which using a third party library wouldn’t work.

        I don’t have a background in medicine, and know very little about melanoma and skin cancer. Just read the basics for ABCDE and applied it. I have had two BCC’s removed, one from my neck and one from my face and I’m only 27, so i DO know that dangers that the sun can cause! I guess living in South Africa and now Australia is probably not helping my cause.

        My day job is enterprise web development using Microsoft technologies… I just wrote the app to get my skills on mobile up to date + I have a lot of moles … so why not :)

  2. Daemon May 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    Great app! Is there an AR component to this, or is the ‘AR’ what you are calling the computer vision and image search?

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