Diagnose your kid's ear infection with your iPhone
Meet the Oto Home, a portable otoscope that attaches to your iPhone's camera to send a video of your kid's ear to a licensed physician for a cheaper diagnosis.
CNET freelancer Anthony Domanico is passionate about all kinds of gadgets and apps. When not making words for the Internet, he can be found watching Star Wars or "Doctor Who" for like the zillionth time. His other car is a Tardis.
Anyone who has kids knows what a pain it is when they come down with an ear infection. Even if you, for whatever reason, have an otoscope laying around the house somewhere like I do, actually using it to figure out whether your kid's inner ear is red or yellow or, worse, green, is maddeningly difficult to do, especially if you don't have an MD behind your name.
Green, as I learned a few weeks ago, is what happens when an ear infection is so bad your child's ear drum ruptures. Fortunately for both my son and I, that isn't actually as bad as it sounds.
Fortunately for those of us dumb enough to try to diagnose ear infections ourselves, doing so might soon be as simple as taking a video on your smartphone. CellScope has come out with a device called the Oto Home, which is a smartphone attachment for the iPhone that shoots a video of your child's inner ear and sends it to a licensed physician who will give a definitive yea or nay, and a prescription, if needed, by phone or email in as little as two hours.
The Oto Home device itself costs $79, and you'll pay an additional $49 each time you ask a physician for medical advice. The first Oto Connect consult is free with purchase of the Oto Home. While that may seem a bit pricey, in most areas $49 is much cheaper than the price you'd pay for a typical office visit, especially if you have a high-deductible health plan (I paid about $119 for that visit a few weeks ago, as a comparison).
Right now, the rollout of Oto Home is limited to select locations. This is likely because it's immensely complicated to navigate the world of health insurance and medical practice rules and regulations, which varies pretty wildly from state to state. California residents can purchase an Oto Home, for example, but I can't buy one in Minnesota. If you're interested in the Oto Home, you can find out whether it's available in your state on the product webpage. A $299 professional version is also available for health care workers, and you can find more information about that product offering here.
For now, the Oto Home is only available for the iPhone 5 and 5s, but the company promises iPhone 6 availability soon. No word on whether that includes the 6 Plus, or whether availability will expand onto other mobile platforms like Android, Windows Phone or BlackBerry.
With devices like the Oto Home and the Peek portable eye exam kit, we're drawing ever closer to a world where the tools we need to fully manage our health can be found in our pocket. And that's the futuristic world I want to live in.