Towards the Next Generation of Mobile Driven Health Care

Smartphones are revolutionizing the way people perceive and interact with both physical and cyber worlds. Mobile coaching (m-coaching) is expected to become a crucial contributor to such a revolution by enabling a new way of providing and receiving personalized healthcare.

How important are smartphones in your life? You may have asked this question yourself or have been asked this question by someone you know. The short answer for most people is “very.” And the trend seems to grow toward an even greater dependency.

Well, in general terms, as long as dependency does not translate into addiction, smartphone users will mostly encounter benefits. This positive perception certainly explains the significant adoption of smartphones in recent years,1 which has increased dramatically, irrespective of gender, age, or social background.

As a consequence, smartphones have helped — and they continue to do so — to democratize and accelerate the provision of many services that would otherwise be difficult to obtain. Healthcare is perhaps the most necessary and relevant of such services, and smartphones are helping to pave the way to a new generation of care.

Machine learning.

Until recently, mobile healthcare applications were mostly constrained in their functionalities by the limited CPU and memory capabilities of regular mobile devices. With the advent of more powerful smartphones, and APIs that allow developers to harness all the capabilities of the hardware, it is now much more feasible to run sophisticated machine learning algorithms on smartphones. That is the case of modern, computationally demanding strategies such as deep learning, which have shown spectacular results while operating on either servers or powerful workstations, and which are just lately becoming a real option on smartphones too.