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Health Care, Healthcare

New ‘Smart Mirror’ Could Detect Early Signs Of Disease

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Vanity could be good for your health — that’s according to scientists, who say a glance in the mirror might soon be able to tell you a lot about what lies beneath the surface.

The Wize Mirror, which is still in development, uses 3D scanners, multispectral cameras and gas sensors to measure the user’s general health level. After just a minute in front of it, the smart mirror can give a score that reveals how healthy a person looks, along with personalized health advice for the day. It’s a new twist on preventative health care that researchers say could help nip chronic diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, in the bud.

Mirror, Mirror

The Wize Mirror is being developed by a consortium of researchers and industry partners from seven European countries. The gadget’s purpose is to stamp out cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, which are the leading causes of death around the world and a major strain on healthcare systems. Catching the early signs of these ailments, researchers believe, is the best medicine for reducing the burden of health care costs associated with treating chronic diseases.

Toward that end, the Wize Mirror wants to gather all sorts of information about you at just a glance.

At the moment it’s still in the concept stages, progressing toward a prototype. But here’s what its developers have in mind: Its cameras would document the day-to-day changes in your facial features in order to identify known markers of stress, anxiety and disease. Images could also be used to assess a person’s blood oxygenation and heart rate, thanks to minute fluctuations in skin color that occur with blood flow.

A full 3-D facial scanner would let you know if you’ve gained or lost weight. Finally, gas sensors would sniff for chemical compounds in your breath to determine how much you drink or smoke, and if you’re at risk for disease.

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Encouraging Healthy Habits

After gathering all this information, the Wize Mirror, which works like a touchscreen computer, would display a score to give you an indication of how healthy you appear. It’ll also provide a few tips on how you can improve your health.

Of course, the finer points of how those scores are calculated, and the advice given, will take some working out. But the team hopes to begin clinical trials of the mirror in France and Italy next year, according to New Scientist.

The Wize Mirror is the latest in a line of new technologies seeking to make the home a primary source of health care. Just last month, Samsung made news by introducing a newly-patented body fat calculator that the company is planning to incorporate into its phones. The devices would simply need to be gripped with both hands to activate the sensors, with its bioelectrical impedance registering the user’s vital signs.

Meanwhile, apps such as Doctor on Demand and Practo facilitate video appointments as well as instant, in-person bookings with practitioners, while medication-monitoring app Insulin Angel and BioSure — Europe’s first legally approved self-testing HIV-kit — mean that illnesses can be both taken care of and diagnosed without setting foot in a doctor’s office.


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"Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge." -- Carl Sagan


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