A new app is "trying to democratize healthcare" -- in this case, through urinalysis.
The digital age has made what was was once obscure visible. In ways we never could before, we can quantify the world -- make it knowable to us, comprehensible to us -- by gathering data and identifying patterns and generally converting experience into information.
One of the last things to have its outlined sharpened through data's lens, though, has been the object most intimate to us: our own bodies. For that understanding, we tend to rely on the same sources of expertise that previous generations of humans did: medical professionals. We may turn to websites like WebMD, out of curiosity or genuine health concerns or hypochondriacal tendencies, to diagnose our minor ailments; we may log our diets through MyNetDiary or our workouts through FitBit; we may track our sleep patterns with products like WakeMate. But while sites and apps have been very good at tracking our health-related behavior, they have been significantly less good at tracking our health itself. Our bodies remain, for the most part, mysteries. Mysteries that are solved, for the most part, only by occasional trips to the doctor.
But that's changing. Medical practice, while still largely undertaken in hospitals and doctors' offices, is expanding out into patients' day-to-day lives. A world already familiar with home pregnancy tests and home blood glucose tests and even home AIDS tests now has another home-based diagnostic product to make use of: an at-home urinalysis system. At the TED conference in Long Beach this week, former MIT student and current entrepreneur Myshkin Ingawale introduced uChek, which is, as its name (sort of) hints at, a urine-testing app.