The Remotoscope: The iPhone-based otoscope from Georgia Tech

The Remotoscope: The iPhone-based video otoscope from Georgia Tech that enables Telehealth for parents, school nurses, in-home caregivers, and hearing care professionals

UPDATE (12/21/2014): The platform was licensed to San Francisco-based CellScope Inc, and pre-orders are being taken now.

It warms our heart here when we come across a nice development out of the labs of our alma mater: This one came out of the 1000+ student Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, the centerpiece of their 800,000 ft² Biotechnology Complex

The Wallace H Coulter School of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech

The Wallace H Coulter School of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech, part of the 800,000 ft² Biotechnology Complex
Click to enlarge

Dr. Wilbur Lam, assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, and Emory medical student Kathryn Rappaport review images of the ear taken with Remotoscope, a clip-on attachment and software app that turns an iPhone into an otoscope.

Dr. Wilbur Lam, assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, and Emory medical student Kathryn Rappaport review images of the ear taken with Remotoscope, a clip-on attachment and software app that turns an iPhone into an otoscope.
Click to Enlarge

Assistant Professor Wilbur Lam and his team came up with a clever hardware & software package to leverage the capabilities of the iPhone platform to turn it into an inexpensive-yet-high quality video otoscope: Remotoscope’s clip-on attachment uses the iPhone’s camera and flash as the light source. It also relies on a custom software app, enhanced by Brian Parise, a research scientist with Georgia Tech Research Institute’s Landmarc Research Center, which provides automatic zoom and crop, image preview, and auto calibration. The iPhone’s data transmission capabilities seamlessly send images and video to the patient’s electronic medical record, or to the physician’s inbox. This device is rather handy for parents of children who have recurrent ear infections; and also for parents of children who have hearing aids; but it can, of course, be used for any age.

Other uses would be having the physician remotely check for bulging or retracted eardrums before flying if a patient has a cold. Other professionals who would benefit from the Remotoscope are in-home caregivers and school nurses to provide remote imaging to the physician.

Finally, hearing aid professionals would have two uses for the Remotoscope as well: First, in the office and on house calls as they use a video otoscope now, i.e. for their own records and ENT referrals; and also for their patients, who would transmit images to their ENT, and also for inspecting things like hearing aid receiver & microphone openings, battery contacts, and other small things on the instruments themselves.

Watch this short video to see the Remototscope in operation:

If this embedded video does not display properly, click here to open in a new page

An FDA clinical trial for the Remotoscope is currently under way at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to see if the device can obtain images of the same diagnostic quality as what a physician sees with a traditional otoscope.

Click here for the press release for the Remotoscope
Click here for the Georgia Tech YouTube Channel

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About the author

Dan Schwartz

Electrical Engineer, via Georgia Tech

10 Comments

  1. Prof Dr Ahmed Khashaba (MD)
    November 25, 2012 at 3:22 am

    It is a great useful idea which I need.


    • Dan Schwartz
      November 25, 2012 at 10:39 am

      Prof Dr Ahmed Khashaba, would this be for use in your office, for you to deploy among your patients, or both? If you’re an otologist, I would still recommend a good Welch Allyn video otoscope for better illumination and better optics, especially if you don’t have an operating room grade microscope.


  2. Dennis Van Vliet
    November 25, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Good idea that brings a clinical tool into more hands.

    Now, can you develop 3d imagery from this 2d image?


    • Dan Schwartz
      November 25, 2012 at 11:19 am

      Dennis, that is an outstanding question! In our own (estimable!) opinion, it would be better to develop it in a professional grade video otoscope first, and then once the optical and processing kinks are worked out, bring it down to a single lens (or more accurately, single lens and CCD) system found on the iPhone camera.

      What’s more, we have concerns about using the on-iPhone lamp for illumination: We have an inexpensive iPhone-based microscope, and it has a separate battery-powered LED light source precisely pointed at the target.

      Starkey has been quite good over the last 25+ years in providing dispenser technology support for hardware, may we suggest licensing the Remotoscope technology and producing a variant of the software so your customers can deploy it both in their offices and among their patients?

      PS: Say hello to Dave Fabry for us!


  3. ADCostlow
    November 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    What about an iphone app that uses bluetooth (for future tymp/OAE screeners) or USB (for current tymp/OAE screeners) to download and wirelessly transmit results? Or even OAEs via via iphone? The difficulty with this could be calibration.


  4. Dr. Baller
    January 24, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    I work in nursing homes that at the very least this would be an option for looking in ears and administering ear drops. Great post.


  5. Nik
    July 22, 2014 at 1:43 am

    I need to buy this to regularly monitor my ear canal condition. Please tell me how to buy and how much is the price. Mail me at nikraf@yahoo.com


    • Dan Schwartz
      July 25, 2014 at 8:56 am

      Hi Nik! The Remotoscope design has been licensed to Cellscope of San Francisco; and it is currently in FDA clinical trials with otologists and a very few select other hearing care professionals, including yours truly.

      Cellscope’s plans are to first put it in the hands of clinicians to build an image library of various conditions and also fine-tune the software; and then late this year or early next year release it to the public.


  6. Prof Claude Laurent
    December 21, 2014 at 4:31 am

    I have seen the earscope from your Dept since long time on the Internet and just wondered why it never came out.
    We are working ourselves with video-otoscopy clips for remote interpretations in telemedical settings.
    Can you do videoclips and then upload them to a server with your app and device?


    • Dan Schwartz
      December 21, 2014 at 12:21 pm

      Professor Laurent: I have forwarded your enquiry to Cori at Cellscope in San Francisco, as they are the licensee for this device.


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