Photo by liz west (CC BY 2.0)
Call For Projects: Portable Full-Body Scanner
Recap: Call For Projects is the part of my website where I call upon the generosity of the reader to develop and complete a project idea that I know in my heart of hearts I'm never actually going to get around to starting, let alone completing. Each CfP will probably be an idea way out of my field of expertise. In fact, I'm going to go so far as to guarantee here that each will definitely be out of my field of expertise. But who knows, it might be in yours. And one of us needs to make it happen. And, y'know, it doesn't look like it's going to be me... A portable and collapsable MRI-type scanner, that you could assemble once a fortnight to give your body an entire scan, and associated software that could identify any potential physical problems. Think how much easier it would make a doctor’s work if they could see regular body scans of a patient over time, presented through software that made that data intelligible. The doctor would be able to zoom in on a 3D model of any part of the body and see “Oh, a slight inflammation of the knee there - not too serious, but worth keeping an eye on” or “The liver seems to be behaving strangely - worth closer investigation?” I know you might say that a portable MRI scanner like that would be technologically impossible but, y’know, be fair - so would the software. Let’s start with the software. It would have a large number of approximate models for how humans should look in a full body scan. And it would also use scans of your body to work what your body normally looks like in these scans. And then it would just flag abnormalities. You, the patient, could either have it offline from the internet, so it would tell you of anything that looked major, or minor. Or, if you trusted its presumably super-advanced security settings (because there are all sorts of data privacy implications here) it would send the encoded data to your GP. This would not be as an alternative to conventional medial practice, but a compliment to it. The scanner itself I picture as a stand (maybe of 2 or 3 thin vertical pillars) that you raise to above head-height, and a large adjustable motorised ring that moves up and down them. There are all sorts of potential obstacles to this that I can think of, and I’m not even vaguely a scientist. (Although, I bet someone somewhere is working on something similar.) But seeing as so many terminal illnesses are treatable if discovered early, wouldn’t it be worth the work?