Scanadu Aims to Turn Smartphones into Healthcare Helpers

A Silicon Valley startup wants to let you use a phone to check your vital statistics -- or even tell you if you're pregnant.

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Scanadu's SCOUT

Scanadu is a Silicon Valley startup with a great tagline: “Sending your smartphone to med school.” It’s begun explaining what it means by showing off the products it’s working on: diagnostic gadgets which talk to phones, intended to let consumers monitor their health quickly, easily and maybe with fewer trips to the doctor’s office.

The company is developing SCOUT, a palm-sized gizmo it plans to sell for about $150. Hold it to your temple for a few seconds, and it will then send information such as your pulse, temperature and blood oxygen level to a companion phone app via Bluetooth. And if your healthcare provider’s office is properly equipped, it will also be able to transmit the data it collects on to your doctor.

It’s also creating disposable saliva-based flu tests (code-named Scanaflu) and urine-based pregnancy tests (code-named Scanaflo). Both have boxes which turn different colors when exposed to the liquid in question; hold up a smartphone, and it’ll scan the boxes and tell you about what the test determined.

Scanadu’s CEO, Walter de Brouwer, and chief medical officer, Alan Greene, demoed the products for me earlier this week. They looked pretty darn cool, but they’re works in progress: For instance, the Scout which de Brouwer and Greene showed wasn’t yet encased in the sleek case shown above (which was created by industrial-design god Yves Behar). And everything still needs to be approved by the FDA. The company hopes to have its inventions in stores by the fall of 2013.