Mobile (25)

25 Aug 2013

It is very difficult to judge when a person is happy. The current way of estimating is to take a survey. However, surveys are prone to failure and they are not very exciting for the surveyors. The people surveyed make a best guess of questions, based on recall.

One of the toughest surveys is to find out the happiness of any person. Typically, these were done by asking in a survey but a group from Princeton has used mobile phones to conduct instantaneous surveys. Find out more at the link below but doing more of the surveys online can help get quick responses but also get a more true response since the response was collected when the feeling was real.

02 Aug 2013

Interesting work by scientists at Microsoft that shows that using mobile phone social contacts is strongly correlated to the perceived mood.

They have designed a mobile application that enables collection of immense amount of data of user interaction with the phone and parameters such the number and time of calls made, the SMS sent and other social interactions. These interactions are then collected and analyzed in the cloud. Each of the parameters are then accumulated and assigned a weight. Once that is done, the study tried to find correlation between the user self assessment and compare that to assessment by the program.

They found a good correlation among users and when the data was compared to the same person then the correlation was higher than 90%.

This illustrates that it is possible to measure even difficult parameters quantitatively, even those which do not have a numerical value.

01 Aug 2013

Researchers at University of Urbana-Champaign found that productivity of workers increased in a coffee shop environment that was not too loud or not too quiet. There is an interesting NY Times blog describing the effect.

Interestingly a group of people have taken that to create an app that plays the recorded background noise back, with the hope that it will increase the listener’s productivity and creativity. The sounds are available for free on the Coffivity website too - the link is below. Try it out.

29 Jul 2013

Android combined with some electronics has been used much more than just a Google phone. For example see the video below to see how it has been used to control a remote control car over the Wifi network.

What is interesting is that the phone has become an enabling electronic gadget since so much of the electronic wizardry is built in with the network connection. This points towards what is possible moving forward with phone as enabling technology. It is heading beyond its use as a communication device.

22 Apr 2013

Mobile and healthcare has been abbreviated to mHealth and there has been significant amount of work that is being done to make mobile applications that will work in the healthcare space. The applications in the iPhone app store vary from not so useful “Anti-mosquito” and “White noise” to more useful ones like Pedometer and Calorie-counter but also include commercial applications from CVS or others. However, there are several diagnostic applications possible that are meaningful.

We are working on developing applications that will monitor the course of a disease. In this case, it is not a diagnostic application which will make the clinical decision on whether you have the disease or not, but rather developing applications that tell you about the progression of the disease using a unique biomarker. The diagnosis of the disease is probably best left to the doctor whereas the progression of the disease study will be one of the parameters that a health care professional will use to make a decision affecting patient’s health.

Two area’s that needs disruptive technology is management of skin and health through unconventional technologies.


Skin can be easily monitored at regular intervals with photo based applications. This should enable the progression of skin conditions such as eczema or can also enable measurement of dryness or oily skin. Skin is important from a commercial point of view with the make-up, beauty and fragrance industry but also important since it serves as a first line of defense for infections and the change in skin conditions are a major indication for many diseases.


Bathing has been typically been thought about as a cleansing activity. But embedding sensors into the bathing water that monitor presence of occult blood or strange metabolites should enable deeper healthcare applications. In those instances the mobility is just enabling convenient electronics that have display and transmission of information built into the device while the sensors can be distributed – whether it is the bath water sensor or a air pressure sensor, it does not matter.

02 Apr 2013

Several companies want to make applications and they go about dedicating several resources to create the application. We, at Usinlife have thought about what makes a good application and have three basic guidelines. These are not the only guidelines but are the starting point for every app process.

1. The app has to fulfill a need – this is true of business and is true for any service. If it does not fulfill a need – whether known or unvoiced, then there is very little incentive for anyone to use it. Even a game fulfills a need of passing time or entertainment so this is not really a restriction.

2. Refining the first point, the app has to solve a problem. If your problem is temperature conversion and the app enables you to convert temperatures then it is solving your problem.

3. Developing the second point. It has to provide some value to the user. The value has be either in user interface, looking good or in some away making the user happy that he has your app in his mobile device.

Obviously, there are many that fulfill these objectives and still are not very popular. And here comes the gray area:

The app has to be exceptional in offering something that other app’s do not offer. Of course, you could have a better user interface or better graphics but beyond that there is something unusually valuable/good/unique that makes it exceptional. This is hardest to define but probably as difficult as the definition of “cool”.

An interesting phenomenon is that once the cascade of download starts then it tends to escalate more just for the reason that other users would like to see and experience what others are talking about!

19 Mar 2013

Electrocardiogram (ECG) has typically been done with an 12 lead device that measures the change in voltage at different terminals. This machine is rugged and sensitive to other signals. However, disruption of this technology is happening from small iPhone based devices that record ECG using just two sensors that are placed behind the phone.

A device made by the company AliveCor has been FDA cleared to be comparable in diagnosis to a GE 12-lead machine. Obviously having this machine available now makes it possible for people to carry this with them and has been used in one case to diagnose an heart patient on an airplane.

Currently, this is not a diagnostic device and is used only to monitor the heart rhythms. This is not new technology and this technology has been previously seen in other portable devices. The unique feature is that it makes it convenient and mass production makes it relatively affordable $199, though purchasing the device does require approval.

16 Mar 2013

Usin’Life is working on developing a mobile applications for fluorescence spectra observation. Typically, the android market has several applications that show the spectra but they are very company specific. This makes a user struggle to find the spectra of interest. If they have access to the computer then one way to do this is to look up the website for each spectra or use a search engine like Google to search for the spectra.

For a web based solution, a group of researchers, George McNamara (U. Miami), Urs Utzinger , Carl A Boswell (retired from U. Arizona) have created a repository of fluorescence spectra on their website for use by everyone. If a scientist has access to the web and a computer, they can display spectra of interest of almost any molecule but in addition they can also plot it in combination with light sources and filter wheel.

In addition they can perform FRET calculations on this website too:


15 Mar 2013

This is work in progress since a mobile phone with terahertz capability does not exist yet but could potentially be very useful.

Terahertz waves are those in the electromagnetic spectrum that are between millimeter waves and infrared, with frequencies between 0.3 to 3 Terahertz. Currently the technology to generate and analyze them do not exist very well but Dr. Kenneth O, from University of Dallas could change that by using CMOS chips for generation and analysis of Terahertz radiation. T-rays have some very interesting properties:

They have low photon energy and do not damage tissues and DNA and thus can be used to penetrate tissue and analyze for density of the tissue – This may be very relevant for breast cancer detection since they can pass through fatty tissue very easily. They have also been advertised to see through cloth and walls which enables its use in security applications.

This is a very active area of research and in Dec 2012 Caltech have also developed chips and integrated planar arrays that can enable Terahertz use in many devices. However, lots more needs to be done to separate the hype of terahertz from its practical applications though its ability to show effect on tissue culture cells and methods for detecting carcinoma are very interesting.

11 Mar 2013

Keeploop has an interesting idea on combining an additional lens and LED into a compact device that is attached magnetically onto the back of the phone on top of the camera lens in a mobile phone. This increases the magnification of the phone lens and also enables to work in a macro mode. This macro-lens, LED is packaged into a single unit that has a battery too. The expected time for the battery is 90 hours but will enable several phones to get a unique macro capability.

Obviously, once the picture gets into the phone the usual advantages of the phone to transmit the image, share, email and possibly process becomes obvious. Check their video below.



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