Pocket-Sized Fingerprint Scanner Could Solve Healthcare Bottleneck

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

British postgraduate students have devised a pocket-sized fingerprint scanner designed to help patients in the developing world get improved access to healthcare.

Toby Norman, Daniel Storisteanu, and Alexandra Grigore hooked up with Toby’s brother Tristram to create Simprints, a scanner that gives health workers easy access to the medical records of patients in the developing world.

According to Toby Norman, the quartet originally wanted to devise software using existing fingerprint scanners, but realized that none on the market fitted the bill.

He said: “When we first started we thought this would simply be a software problem – we’d buy an off-the-shelf fingerprint scanner, write a bit of software, connect it to a mobile phone, and that would solve the problem. However, when we looked at the applications out there we found that most scanners out there were designed for westernized applications, designed for office use, commercial use, criminal justice, to applications like that. What we actually needed was a scanner that is low cost, ruggedised, wireless, low energy, and could work well in difficult field conditions.”

The scanner wirelessly syncs with a health worker’s smartphone via an app to check patient records. The SimPrints system can access and modify offline health records that have already been downloaded and stored in a local database on the phone. This means that in areas with limited mobile connectivity, updates to the records will subsequently be synced with the central database once Internet connectivity returns.

Tristram Norman, from the Royal Holloway, University of London, said the device involved two steps that make it easy for an outreach community health worker to access patient healthcare records.

Source: Reuters (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
healthcare technology