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I'm detecting an anomaly, Captain
May 28, 2009 7:09 PM   Subscribe

Although a cellphone is about as close to a Star Trek communicator as you can get, something more practical has come along to make you feel like you're finally living in the future. The Standoff Patient Triage Tool (SPTT) is nearly a Starfleet medical tricorder: it can detect pulse, body temperature, and respiration from an injured person at a distance of forty feet, allowing first responders to identify the injured before setting foot into a dangerous situation.
posted by AzraelBrown (26 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I'm beginning to think they can cure a rainy day.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:12 PM on May 28, 2009

They can, but they mostly restrict that technology to Risa.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:13 PM on May 28, 2009 [3 favorites]

Well, IF this gets made it will be awesome. It will still be quite a leap from a tricorder, but HOLY HELL is technology wicked cool.
posted by Stunt at 7:14 PM on May 28, 2009

Life imitates Star Trek. Next thing you know, we'll be repairing cerebral hemorrhages using that funny blinky thing they put on Chekov's head in Star Trek: The One With the Whales.
posted by kldickson at 7:17 PM on May 28, 2009

Don't cell phones do that yet?
posted by futureisunwritten at 7:18 PM on May 28, 2009

Come to think of it, I don't hear of patients on dialysis much anymore . . .
posted by Countess Elena at 7:37 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm beginning to think they can cure a rainy day.

They can, but for some reason it's only used by totalitarian governments.
posted by smackfu at 7:37 PM on May 28, 2009

Sunshine is boring. Besides that, it's fascist.

I say mix in some partly cloudy, a few showers: it's more democratic.
posted by rokusan at 7:40 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

I will be utterly astonished if they can make something like this work. Temperature might be somewhat easy, but it would be hard to make sure the device gets an accurate reading of core temperature, not just superficial skin temp. I can't think of any easy way at all to detect pulse at distance (especially if it is weak or abnormal.) Even respiration would be difficult to measure, visually.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:46 PM on May 28, 2009

Well, what can you expect from technology that uses stone knives and bearskin?
posted by briank at 7:47 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Don't cell phones do that yet?

The iPhone does. Or did, before they pulled the app for hippocratic oath violations.
posted by davejay at 8:04 PM on May 28, 2009

This will seriously reduce the amount of "does (s)he like me?!"-Filter.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:11 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Joe Beese:
I'm beginning to think they can cure a rainy day.

Who can take a weak pulse, sprinkle it with tech,
Cross-ref'rence it with body-temp and-a respiration-detec'?
The Doctor-Man, oh the Doctor-Man can!
The Doctor-Man can 'cuz he mixes it with Trek 'n' makes the gizmo look cool...
The Doctor-makes every vital he takes
Satisfying and partic'lar
Talk about your nerdy fervor -
You can even say 'tri-cor-der'
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:33 PM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

Doctor-MAN makes.

that's what I get for trying to multitask dinner making and Metafilter posting.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:38 PM on May 28, 2009

This thing is cool! It would also be put to good use for training athletes.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:13 PM on May 28, 2009

Nice Bull Durham reference there rokusan!
posted by Windopaene at 10:10 PM on May 28, 2009

Next thing you know, we'll be repairing cerebral hemorrhages using that funny blinky thing they put on Chekov's head in Star Trek: The One With the Whales.

Well.... Since you brought it up...

You could have a device that uses an array of hundreds of thousands of infrared diodes and detectors that could be used to scan an area of the skull (heat it up, blood is going to absorb the IR more than other areas and light up like a Christmas tree on a sensitive enough IR camera). Once you've got a idea of what things look like down below you could use AI to determine what the blood vessels should look like and then use 3D convergence to use the infrared diode array to target and fuse the tissue surrounding the blood vessels and almost reconstruct them on the fly.

But that's just getting into the realm of silly pipe dreams from daydreaming nerds.
posted by Talez at 10:43 PM on May 28, 2009

If you read the article, the way the device works (or would work in theory, they haven't actually built one yet) is by reading vibrations off of people's skin. That's how they can detect heart rate and breathing.
posted by delmoi at 12:39 AM on May 29, 2009

A FLIR mode seems to me like something that's definitely possible to miniaturize (they already sell handheld models) and stick on a cellphone and would be very popular.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:42 AM on May 29, 2009

I'll be totally dismayed if this thing gets into the field and the users don't call it a tricorder, if just for the sake of on-the-job giggles.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:18 AM on May 29, 2009

I'm seeing this being adopted as diagnostic tool of choice for stinky patients...
posted by Coobeastie at 4:25 AM on May 29, 2009

Rhomboid, the smallest portable IR I've seen to date is about the size of a hardback book and maybe three times as heavy. FLIR packages are still pretty big; the size of a large piece of luggage (and need big power supplies).
posted by bonehead at 7:12 AM on May 29, 2009

It sounds cool, but I can't see anything in this press release beyond "we've had a cool idea"; there's no indication that it exists, or even that it will do soon.

futureisunwritten - Don't cell phones do that yet?

In a similar idea, Bell Labs were trying to monitor breathing and heart rate with mobile phones back in 2001. A mobile phone's microwave signals get bounced off the body back to the phone, so Bell were looking for doppler shifts in that signal to indicate chest and heart movement.

There's also a Japanese phone that can measure your pulse when you press a fingertip against its camera lens, which isn't what the army wants but is still pretty cool.
posted by metaBugs at 8:06 AM on May 29, 2009


I found this when googling for mobile phones, heart rate and microwaves: Mind Control Forums. Totally irrelevant to this discussion, but I have to share it because it's by far the funniest crank / conspiracy site I've seen in a long time. If nothing else, scroll down to see the diagram in "Part 3".

posted by metaBugs at 8:19 AM on May 29, 2009

Forget all these stupid health applications. You'll finally be able to really know whether you make her heart go pitter-pat. (or his, by taste.)
posted by Zed at 11:53 AM on May 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

at a distance of forty feet

I'm having trouble imagining reasons that emergency personnel would need to be 40ft away that don't involve zombies. On fire? Run the 40ft with an extinguisher. Radioactive? Too late already. In a tiger pen? You don't deserve treatment. Flu? maybe but what are you going to do, throw Tamiflu pills at them and yell "hey, sneezy, catch this"? Poison gas cloud? maybe.

I can imagine robots carrying these and determining the dead from the just-faking dead. Or healthcare workers at crowded ERs doing triage from behind bullet-proof glass. Neither idea makes me particularly comfortable.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 1:16 PM on May 29, 2009

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