Check your skin for a melanoma? Yes, there's an app for that too

How would you feel about an iPhone app that claimed to be able to tell if that mole on your arm was not looking too healthy? That’s the claim of Skin Scan, an iPhone medical app available now on the Apple App Store. The startups has secured €50,000 Euro in seed funding from Seedmoney.

Either Skin Scan is going to get people to see a doctor earlier, thus potentially saving lives. Or it’s going to make hypochondriacs of us all. I can’t decide which. Suffice it to say this appears to be one clever app. Because it also asks for your location, Skin Scan is also producing a live map of how our moles are looking around the globe. The implication for the app are very interesting – Skin Scan could end up mapping skin cancer rate across the planet, if it gets this right.

The app takes a picture of a mole on the skin, then uses a proprietary algorithm to look at the fractal-like shapes which exist in human skin (have a look up close, you can see little triangles in normal skin, honest). It then calculates if the shape of the mole means it is is developing normally, or abnormally thus in a into a potential cancerous melanoma.

Skin scan is claiming the plaudits of a handful of doctors on its site, but let’s not go over-board here. At the very least the app simply claims to tell a users when to look for a professional medical investigation – something which may be helpful in its own right – although as usual, consult your doctor first…

Whether an iPhone camera is capable of this is hard to say. But I tried the app out on myself and – after a couple of tries – found it fairly convincing.

At least the team has experience. It has about a dozen members composed of two dermatology doctors, two mathematicians working on the algorithm. Technical implementation is coordinated by Mihai Mafteianu of Cronian Labs in Romania. It’s headed up by CEO Victor Anastasiu, co-founder of Romanian seed fund SeedMoney.

So far it looks like there aren’t any similar apps making the same claims. There is an app called Dermoscopy which organises photos, but doesn’t provide any assessments and which requires additional hardware. Skin Scan handles the analysis via the iPhone camera only.

And judging from the map, so far it looks like the world is safer than we thought.