Far Out Tech

This Smart Skin-Scanning App Could Save Your Life

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You can do a lot of amazing things with a smartphone. Fetch a cab. Deposit a check. Identify a leaf (watch out for poison ivy!). Find love. Now you can do something with your trusty handset that isn’t just cool, it could save your life: You can detect skin cancer, hopefully early enough to stop the disease in its tracks.   

The founders at SkinVision B.V. have created an app, simply called SkinVision, that helps users pinpoint possibly dangerous moles and other suspect skin birthmarks. The potentially life-saving tool, available for iPhone ($0.99) and Android (free), allows you to snap, archive and track pictures of your moles, beauty spots or insert whatever cute nickname you call your one-of-a-kind spots and dots.

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Once an image of a mole or skin mark is uploaded to the app, a brainy algorithm concocted by SkinVision’s team of computer scientists, mathematicians and, yes, licensed dermatologists, too, instantly assesses your risk for a variety of serious skin conditions. These include melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. One person dies from complications from the common cancer every 57 minutes, according to data from the Skin Cancer Foundation.

SkinVision-scanned moles are evaluated on three risk levels: green (low risk), orange (medium risk) and red (high risk). Depending on your risk level, the app could encourage you to see a doctor in person for a follow-up visit. Over time, using the app’s convenient image archive gallery feature, you can track your moles to gauge whether they’re staying the same or -- not good -- changing.

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The app also assists you in assessing your skin type and informs you of the ultraviolet (UV) light index of your immediate surroundings (based on your GPS location). If needed, it will alert you to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

Screening moles for abnormalities -- like new or darker color, unusual shape or growth, lesions on them that won’t heal or flaky skin on them -- can lead to early treatment, ideally in time to stop the spread of cancer to other parts of the body. And that’s pretty much the whole point of the app.

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As SkinVision’s creators are careful to point out (and to legally cover themselves), it’s important to remember that, while SkinVision can be helpful, it is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Still, it’s a step in the right direction, a smart, practical tool to help you keep a closer, more informed eye on the health of something very important -- your body’s biggest organ, your skin.

What crazy apps, gadgets and tech have you come across lately? Let us know by emailing us at FarOutTech@entrepreneur.com or by telling us in the comments below.

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Edition: December 2016

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