From Satellites to Microscopes the New Use Cases for our Smartphones

(B) Besides portability, our smartphones have many features that our desktop computers do not have. They can see – they have cameras that can be moved. They can feel – they have sensors. Combined with mobility, vision, sensors, and their low costs, smartphones are providing a number of use cases, that are today just the top of the iceberg, that we will see in the future for mobile devices.

Yesterday CellScope Inc., a spin-off of CellScope, the microscopy and medical imaging lab of Professor Daniel Fletcher from UC Berkeley, has raised its first round of financing. Professor Fletcher creativity was to turn a smartphone into a microscope for critical health care needs in developing countries. And CellScope Inc. will launch a smartphone-enabled as an otoscope for remote diagnosis of pediatric ear infection.

Last year, I attended a presentation from NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA about one of its latest projects: PhoneSat (@NASA_PhoneSat on Twitter), an ultra-low-cost satellite that leverages smartphone technology. PhoneSat 1.0 was a satellite with minimal basic functionality — to stay alive in space for a short period and send back monitoring and picture data — which has been tested to and passed NASA environmental testing specifications, and yet whose part costs amount to only $3,500! Now NASA is working on PhoneSat 2.0 which will have a completely functional satellite bus, including a two-way radio to be able to command PhoneSat from the ground, solar arrays to enable it to run a long duration mission, and a system of attitude control.

And, creativity is not limited to Universities and NASA…

I met last year an engineer who built a bicycle safety device for his kids: basically, the safety device or smartphone was monitoring the surroundings of the kid while he was biking to prevent an accident with a car.

And this year, I met a team at Startup Weekend, who was thinking to use a smartphone that could be held by a blind person to remotely help him or her to freely move.

Maybe the most important use cases of our smartphones will not be for communication, Web surfing, and playing games but to solve new problems where mobility, vision, sensors, and low costs can be combined together.

Note: the picture above is from CellScope.

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Categories: Mobile