Mobile Medic

Could the next medical breakthrough be… in your pocket?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Anemia is a blood condition that reduces hemoglobin, which moves oxygen through the body. In children, it can slow development and deplete immune systems. Diagnosing anemia usually requires a blood test. But – that can be scary for little kids! Is there a non-invasive solution?

Enter Thomas Wemyss from University College London and team. 

We can tell when someone lacks hemoglobin – they’re usually pale. So, researchers developed an algorithm to diagnose anemia from smartphone pictures. They analyzed photos from over forty children under the age of four from Ghana. They looked at lighter colored areas on kids’ bodies – the whites of their eyes, lower lips, and eyelids. 

With these photos, they detected ALL severe cases of anemia and most mild ones!

This technology can diagnose anemia with just a few pictures. Cheaper, less scary, and more accessible than traditional tests!

hA! Guess my iPhone is good for more than just TikTok!


Wemyss, T. A., Nixon-Hill, M., Outlaw, F., Karsa, A., Meek, J., Enweronu-Laryea, C., & Leung, T. S. (2023). Feasibility of smartphone colorimetry of the face as an anaemia screening tool for infants and young children in Ghana. PLOS ONE, 18(3), e0281736.