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Communications of the ACM


Smartphone Science

off-site doctor examines child via smartphone

Say Ah: An off-site doctor examines the throat of a child via smartphone during a digital medical consultation.

Credit: Sebastien Bozon / Getty Images

In his 1998 book The Invisible Computer, user experience pioneer Don Norman predicted that general-purpose computers would one day give way to "information appliances": compact tools designed for specialized computational purposes, capable of communicating across a wide range of platforms.

Thanks to recent innovations in mobile processors, sensors, and image capture tools, Norman's vision now looks remarkably prescient—nowhere more so than in the worlds of science and medicine, where advances in mobile technology are starting to yield lightweight, low-cost scientific instruments that promise to democratize access to a wide range of powerful diagnostic techniques.


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