Technology News

Are Cellular Phones Tricorders?  

This article  will profile the logical progression of mobile technologies such as the cellular phone toward ubiquitous, multipurpose devices that can perform significant functions similar to the fictional tricorder featured in Star Trek© series and films. Within the context, the domain of telemedicine and related applications for remote data access and analysis implies ramifications that information managers in the public and private sector should consider within their operational framework for the mandates that they serve.

This is a excerpt of a short piece written in 11/2009

The premise that cellular phones and similar devices conceptually have progressed toward feature and functionality similar to the fictional tricorder device (CBS Studios Inc., 2009) of Star Trek©  lore in not farfetched or unobtainable as it may topically appear. The rapid adaption of cellular platforms by the human populous worldwide for activities as varied as crop monitoring and education in Africa (Arnquist, 2009; Welter, 2009) to heart monitoring via a stethoscope application (Moore, 2009), provides ample evidence that these platforms are becoming increasing more capable and functional on the periphery of physical networks from a commercial, corporate and social perspective.  In this regard, the area of telemedicine should of importance to CIO and related officials in the public and private sectors. Telemedicine is broadly defined is a rapidly developing application of clinical medicine where medical information is transferred through the phone or the Internet for the purpose of consulting, and sometimes remote medical procedures or examinations (Mary Ann Liebert Inc., 2009). Telemedicine can be broken into three main categories: store-and-forward, remote monitoring and interactive services. How information is anticipated to be accessed and used dictates the category it is classified under while overlaying considerations such as venue, sensitivity of the data, security, method of access and the relative speed and reliability of the data transport medium.

The open question is how influential such mobile application could be. This could addressed by applications such as CellScope project and its focus on the development of a modular, high-magnification microscope attachments for cell phones to diagnose and detect diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis (The Blum Center for Developing Economies, 2009). The impact such an application a CellScope could have on the health and information management community  is significant given the potential access to underserved communities and new delivery framework such applications could provide.

It is within the context of telemedicine and its related applications that information and public sector executive should consider incorporating into their long-term plans when studying further trends on information access, management and security.

In this context, IT professionals should plan for the following usage scenarios within the environment:

Usage Scenario 1:

Real-time updates for applications such are ERP, logistics and human resource applications remotely. IT professionals need to plan, procure and support mobile based applications that subsume a greater role in within their environment by users while also address the unique security, access and support issues that mobile applications entail.

Usage Scenario 2: Accommodation for trickle feed information such as status, location and change state for individuals, orders and work items that previously was not provided, tracked or stored. This additional information potentially could overwhelm certain environments. Conversely this additional information could lead to a current demand for reports both batch and adhoc by users internal and external.



Arnquist, S. (2009). In Rural Africa, a Fertile Market for Mobile Phones The New York Times, 2009(October 5, 2009), 1. Retrieved from

CBS Studios Inc. (2009, 2006). Tricorder.   Retrieved November 20, 2009, 2009, from

Mary Ann Liebert Inc. (2009). Telemedicine and e-Health Retrieved November 21, 2009, 2009, from

Moore, E. A. (2009). A stethoscope app? Be still my beating heart. Cnet News Online (November 17, 2009), 1. Retrieved from

The Blum Center for Developing Economies. (2009, 2009). Portable, Low-Cost Imaging for Monitoring and Disease Diagnosis.   Retrieved November 20, 2009, 2009, from

Welter, C. (2009, 2009). Cell Phone Applications Help Farmers in Uganda.   Retrieved November 20, 2009, 2009, from