No more needles

Device allows doctors to review some information of normal blood test - without drawing blood.

blood test 521 (photo credit: BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING, TECHNION)
blood test 521
Good news for patients who are afraid of needles.
Scientists at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have developed a device that can give doctors quickly and cheaply some of the information they usually derive from a normal blood test – without drawing blood.
Dr. Dvir Yelin tells The Jerusalem Report that the technology used in their device is based on confocal microscopy, a technology where the image is enhanced by shining light of a specific wavelength at an object to create a sharper contrast to its surroundings.
An image is taken of the blood flowing through the lower lip of the patient, where there are a good number of blood vessels. The patient’s head is placed on a chin rest to limit movement and the probe that emits the light can be easily positioned. The whole test takes about 30 seconds.
The result is a two-dimensional image of the cells, with one axis showing the wavelength and on the other axis the direction of blood flow encoded by time. Similar technology is available today but either the device itself is large and hard to manipulate, or it uses fluorescent dyes to which some patients can be allergic. For now, the technology will not replace blood tests entirely because it can only be used for microscopy, where the blood is studied closely to detect visible changes. The device cannot do any chemical blood testing, which is the most common type of blood test, used to detect issues such as a vitamin deficiency or measuring the function of the kidneys.
Yelin says that one day it will be possible to replace aspects of standard blood tests “but only in terms of the morphology of blood, like counting the white blood cells, red blood cells and looking at them to see if there is any disease, or to see their size and density.” The device will be of benefit in many poorer countries, where access to sterile medical equipment is limited. It can also analyze the test result itself and provide a quick answer, instead of waiting for a blood sample to be sent to a well-equipped laboratory at a big hospital far away and then waiting for the data. This allows medical staff to begin treatment straight away, saving valuable time – especially crucial if the patient is suffering from a serious infection or trauma.
“This device, because it can do microscopy and it can analyze its own data, is basically a self-contained system,” says Yelin. Currently, the device is the size of a shoe box but the team is working on developing a thumb-sized version within a year. The Haifa scientists are also improving the technology so that it can be used on other parts of the body that patients might find less invasive.
Making machines that think like humans
Intel Corp., which most people associate with computer processors, is set to launch research in Israel into technology that will allow the devices that we use in everyday life to mimic that the human brain and to get to know their user.
Justin Rattner, Intel’s chief technology officer describes machine learning as a “huge opportunity” for the company.
“Despite their name, smartphones are rather dumb devices. My smartphone doesn’t know anything more about me than when I got it,” says Rattner.
“All of these devices will come to know us as individuals, will very much tailor themselves to us,” he says. The research will take place at Intel’s newly established Collaborative Research Institute for Computational Intelligence, a collaboration between scientists from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Technion.
In addition to machine learning and brain-inspired computing, the new center will also seek ways for a device to compute huge amounts of data while using only limited energy. As an example of the new technology, Rattner says that after an initial learning period during which the device learns that its user forgets his car keys in the house, in the second week it will remind the user to pick them up before leaving. It could also help you traveling in a country you have never visited to find a restaurant that serves a cuisine the device has learned you like back home.
All there is to know about who is calling you
Israeli app developers continue to receive international recognition.
The team behind the caller recognition CallApp ( was selected by to feature in their Disrupt NYC event in May. The app, currently only available on Android, collects all the information provided by people in your contact book across Internet platforms, from a Facebook update, a new job posting on LinkedIn to Twitter, and presents all the information on your screen when someone calls.
If the caller isn’t in your contact list but has a number listed on the Internet, the app will be able to provide similar information but in less detail. The user can choose how much information he wants displayed.
The app also works for outgoing calls, so users can see what the other person is up to and why they might not be answering.
When calling restaurants, it automatically generates a Yelp review and enables access to Google street view so you can see what the restaurant looks like. CallApp says it provides more information than similar apps also available.