The Winding Path

July 7th, 2014

Dear Indiegogo Backers,

We hope you enjoyed your  4th of July weekend with fireworks, friends and family. We’ve been plugging away with our own sparks. Here’s the latest:


Over the past two weeks, we’ve hosted two Scanadu Scanathon events at our HQ in Mountain View, CA. These events were incredibly helpful in gathering new data points as we move forward with the Scanadu Scout™. Thank you to all who were able to participate!

During the calibration days, each participant completed three Scanadu Scout™ scans and were measured with five other comparison devices - including continuous monitoring, automated and manual methods. A comparison device is a device used in clinical testing that is known to be at a certain level of accuracy according to standards and regulations. These are used to compare and calibrate scans from the Scanadu Scout™.

With over 60 diverse participants throughout two days we captured 200 completed scans, which resulted in over 800 vital sign measurements.

This is just the meta data though - beneath each scan is a combination of thousands of individual raw sensor readings that are captured every two milliseconds from each device. All of the data is ingested by our algorithms - that is then used to improve the model for the measurements for each vital sign and for each individual person. Our team is knee deep in processing all this rich data (code warrior pictured below).

Code Warrior


During our rigorous testing at the hypoxia lab, we located an opto-mechanical (light sensor) issue in the SPO2 sensors. The aesthetics of the acrylic window causes unwanted light reflection picked up by the photodiode (part of the SPO2 sensor diagramed below) that is interfering with the signals. We have a light blocking solution that will make the signals more stable.


To test our solution for temperature, we need to collect temperature data points from a patient population with fever in a hospital/clinic setting. Our clinical team is setting up the appropriate framework for this. These solutions involve hardware and we’re working with our manufacturer in Fremont, CA to make the right decisions about timelines to be able to resume shipping.


All in all - why does this take so long? Algorithms. An algorithm is the massive combination and processing all of the data from all our sensors. If one element in our algorithm gives a wrong input, the whole algorithm ecosystem is affected.  Meaning every minute change on hardware or software requires us to redo bench testing (on healthy people) and edge-case testing (on sick people) - which then must be re-calibrated again and again with every change.

There is so much going on in this small unit by putting all these sensors so close to each other that some friendly fire is inescapable. We know you want to have your hands on it - and we want that too and are working towards this every day.  Sorry it takes so much time, if only our team was made of silicon - we could sample and process per millisecond, but we are slow carbon creatures. But resilient.

We value your patience. If you have any additional questions, contact us at and we will work with you directly.

Thank you,

The Scanadu Team

Scanathon Part I

June 24, 2014

Last Thursday, we happily hosted a group of our Indiegogo backers for the first Scanadu Scanathon.

Participants came from far and wide; with backgrounds ranging from engineering and medicine, to wine making, teaching and aviation... Some drove for 3 hours or flew from as far away as Chicago for the occasion! We received valuable input and appreciated the conversations about the impact of what we're building. To quote Bill - one of our backers, and one of several named Bill :) - "It is not a sprint - it’s a marathon."

Our medical teams tested backers all day and collected a vast pool of data - over 3 million sample periods that have resulted in over 24 million sensor readouts - that will help us calibrate our investigational devices. We are processing the data now, comparing the measurements made with the Scanadu Scout™ and the comparison devices.

Since our available time slots filled up so quickly last Thursday, we are organizing a second Scanathon this Friday, June 27th.  You can register here and we'll confirm participation later today.

This additional data will allow for more calibration cycles for the device by comparing both sets of Scanathon data to other pools of data we’ve previously gathered.

Thanks for working with us to make this generation the last one to know so little about our health.


Thank you,

Scanadu Team

Scanadu Scout™ Progress and Scanathon

May 31, 2014

Dear Indiegogo Supporters,

Since our last update, we’ve been working like mad to fix bugs, tweak software and calibrate results. We’ve basically shut ourselves off from the world to delve deep into the code and system to understand and tackle the technical challenges we reported on April 4th.

We’ve made meaningful progress on a number of fronts and have increased our workforce by 20%, adding a number of code warriors and mathletes to our team.

Here’s a snapshot of our progress so far.

Progress Report

The tool broke.

UPDATE: The manufacturing tool has been repaired. All the casings are ready at our manufacturing facility in California, and once we give the go ahead, our manufacturer will be able to assemble and ship thousands of units.

Temperature readings were faulty.  

UPDATE: The issue with temperature is a combination of hardware and software challenges. We have developed potential solutions and we are in the process of validating them.

Algorithms required too much bandwidth.

UPDATE:  We have streamlined our algorithms so that our scans are much easier to complete. We are putting our test protocols on overdrive across the board. In mid-June, we will have our revised SPO2 algorithm clinically recalibrated in a dedicated research lab at a leading center for the study of the effects of hypoxia on humans.

Become an Early Scanadu Scout™  Test Volunteer    

We need more data - our silicon is in need of your living carbon!

Our next step is to expand our testing at scale. We are hosting a Scanadu Scanathon at our headquarters at NASA Ames Research Park in Mountain View, CA. This is an exclusive invitation to our Indiegogo backers to participate in the next step of the Scanadu journey. More than 10% of you, our Indiegogo backers, already live in Silicon Valley, but wherever you live in the USA - take a hike, walk, fly, drive, ride and come to us.

Our goal is to collect a larger body of test data that will better calibrate our algorithms and get us closer to delivering your Scanadu Scouts.

Join us!

Scanadu Scanathon

When: The week of June 15, 2014 (test date & time will be sent to confirmed participants)
Where: Scanadu HQ at NASA Ames Research Park in Mountain View, CA
Time commitment: Actual testing will take less than an hour per person, but participants are invited to stay on to meet fellow backers and the Scanadu team
Who is eligible to participate: Indiegogo backers over 18 years old
Who will perform the testing: Scanadu’s medical team
What you will get: Test the Scanadu Scout™  investigational device, drinks, food, good company, mathletes, astronauts and the Scanadu team
What to bring: A valid government-issued ID (preferably a driver’s license) is required to enter the NASA campus
What we will be testing: Vital signs
How to apply for the Scanadu Scanathon: Please fill out this form

We are making progress and we’re excited to welcome you to Scanadu HQ to participate in some of the additional testing needed before we can ship.

Gratitude and thanks to all of you... Let’s make it so!

Team Scanadu

For any questions, comments, or feedback, please email us at

Scanadu Scout™ Update

Walter De Brouwer, Founder and CEO

April 5, 2014

Dear Indiegogo Backers,

Last year, we set out on an exciting journey together to bring to life our shared vision of empowerment through knowledge of our own health. You’ve been a key partner in making the Scanadu Scout™ investigational device come to life, and we were thrilled to assemble the first batch of units and deliver a handful to early backers on March 31, 2014.

From this first set of units, we identified that some of the readings weren’t working as expected. Since that moment the Scanadu team has been working non-stop to determine why the initial batch did not meet our internal design control standards.

Based on our assessment these last few days, we’ve made the decision to delay shipment of the Scanadu Scout™ investigational devices until we feel it meets our internal standards. There are three fundamental issues that led to this decision:

  1. The algorithm that connects the investigational devices with the app is inconsistent in reading scans made with the newly manufactured investigational devices. We have identified the issues in the algorithm and are working feverishly to address them.

  2. The temperature readings are faulty, but we are in process of identifying the fixes needed to solve this.

  3. Finally, the manufacturing tool used to make the investigational devices broke this week, after the first few hundred casings had rolled off the line.

We will replace these first units and will resume production and shipping as soon as these key issues are resolved. We hope that this will not be more than 8-12 weeks. The entire Scanadu team is working around the clock - refining algorithms, testing software and hardware, sourcing a new thermometer, and working with our manufacturing and related partners to deliver to you as fast as possible.

As with our decision to submit for FDA clearance, we knew that giving life to the Scanadu Scout™ investigational device would be a complex and challenging path. But sometimes the harder paths are the right ones to take. Thank you for continuing to motivate and inspire us.

As always our team is available to address your questions and comments at

Sapere Aude!

Ge-Ge-Ge- Gentlemen (and Ladies) Start your engines!*

Walter De Brouwer, Founder and CEO

* Grateful Dead

March 27, 2014

Both iOS and Android versions of our app are ready and have been submitted to the app stores. We are counting on this being available on Monday. We start assembly on Friday in Fremont, California. And why, might you ask? Well… because we are ready to start shipping the first units on Monday!!

There are still more than 100 hours left for us to fine-tune everything, to chase these Heisenbugs, to calibrate the fusion algorithms, to adhere to our validation criteria, to have more people tested, and to bring you the first of many exciting journeys into a new healthcare landscape where your health becomes a great connected experience and where the crowd (we) can offer context and differential analysis to each other and open up a new conversation with our doctors.

The app guides the user through interacting with the Scanadu Scout by placing it over the forehead to take a composite, multi-parameter biometric signature that pulls in several vital signs in seconds: diastolic and systolic blood pressure, body temperature (core temperature is coming in a couple of weeks), SPO2 (blood oxygenation), and heart rate.  There will be weekly improvements for adding new experiences to your device such as respiratory rate and HRV (Heart Rate Variability); until you have every single electrical signal in your body... prepare for the Body Electric!

Multi-profiles in the app are technically possible, but would create ambiguity in our health study.  How would we be able to prove that one person uses one device? Thus, for now, this app is only intended to be used by one person.

We will, however, be able to test this feature in the coming months with backers that signed up for early access to features and who have completed the informed consent form. Stay tuned, since we know this is a popular feature, we are working towards making it available.

The Scanadu Scout system is optimized for use only on adults for the moment. Our intention is, and has always been, to make the device work for pediatric use, but children are not little adults and we still have to tweak our algorithms, feed databases, and calibrate the device for them.

Empathy. Our bet is on Empathy.  With this device we can help ourselves but also others.  Help us calibrate this machine and tune its variables. Personal computers and the internet were just the appetizer, together we are going to cook the entrée.

(from the frontline of glitches, crashes, freezes, exterminator ninjas, codejockeys, body hackers, swearing pirates and lasers and shit)

Scanadu Scout Indiegogo Campaign Update

The Scanadu Team

Scanadu Scout – Who Cares?

Alan Greene, MD, FAAP

March 4, 2014

When we started this exciting journey, we were uncertain about who would most want our invention. We expected mothers with young children would jump at the chance to have vital health information about their children. Women are often the “Chief Medical Officers” of their families. We also expected many adult children with aging parents would find the Scanadu Scout to be a lifesaver.

During our Indiegogo campaign, we got to know thousands of people who put their money where their dreams were in order to be among the first to get their hands on the Scanadu Scout.

We were surprised by what we found and we think you will be, too:

- The overwhelming majority of Scanadu backers were men (84% compared to 48% in the general population) – I know what you’re thinking, but I’ll get to that later*...
- While parents comprised a large portion of backers, 61% of our backers live in households without children.
- Only 34% of Scanadu backers reported having a chronic disease and yet 73% of backers report using tracking health and medical devices to track their own health.
- There were more Scanadu backers in the 65-75 age group than the US population percentage – but healthy adults under 65 were the main group to get involved.

This is a very different picture than we expected – healthy men in the prime of life. *Was this just because we launched on Indiegogo, a platform that may appeal more to tech-loving guys? Perhaps. But even so, that would be great news! It would indicate that in addition to parents, chronically ill individuals, and aging adults the young and healthy are also getting involved in their health. Taking charge of learning about their bodies before they every get sick.

We don’t know yet, but could this be a sign that men, who traditionally are less involved in their own health, will get involved if they have the right tools? I think so. And that means good things are in store for longer healthier lives.

Knowledge and Social Power

Alan Greene, MD, FAAP

January 20, 2014

Imagine a thermometer that was a foot long, which had to be held under the arm for twenty minutes to get an accurate reading. That’s the thermometer Carl Wunderlich used in the middle of the 19th century on more than 25,000 patients to create the first tables of normal body temperatures.

With these data tables, thermometry became all the rage in medicine.  Soon, a portable 6-inch model arrived that could get a reading in only 5 minutes (which would be long, compared to many of today’s youtube videos, but was speedy at the time). At the patient’s bedside, in hospitals across the land, temperature readings were carefully recorded to chart the progression of disease. Physicians learned that “fever”, previously thought to be a constellation of symptoms such as a racing pulse and flushed skin, all boiled down to elevated body temperature. Understanding of diseases and health were increasing rapidly.

Thermometry was a powerful tool – but for all practical purposes locked away in hospitals. Only professionals could be trusted with this cutting edge tool and the knowledge it gave. (Though a few bold early “quantified selfers” such as Benjamin Franklin had long been taking readings of themselves to learn.)

Enter Edouard Seguin, a physician who began a crusade to get thermometers into the hands of nonprofessionals – especially women, because they often had charge of the young and the sick.

Seguin believed that recording objective data could free people from dependence on the quacks of the day, improve interactions with physicians (by gathering data between visits), and provide valuable evidence of the actual benefits of treatments.

As he declared, “Thermometry is not only knowledge, but social power.”

Today in hospitals across the land, a handful of vital signs are carefully recorded for every patient several times each day. Some of the tools (blood pressure cuffs) are still unwieldy. The habit is fundamental to following and learning about the health of patients. But it is still, for practical purposes, locked in hospitals and clinics.

At Scanadu we are on a mission to get the vital signs – and other important readings – into the hands of nonprofessionals.

Scanning is not only knowledge, but social power.


1 Dominguez EA, Bar-Sela A, Musher DM.  “Adoption of Thermometry into Clinical Practice in the United States” Reviews of Infectious Diseases © 1987 Oxford University Press. 1193-1201.

2 Musher DM, Dominguez EA, Bar-Sela A. “Eduoard Seguin and the Social Power of Thermometry” New England Journal of Medicine, January 8, 1987; 316:115-117.

3 Seguin E. Manual of Thermometry for Mothers, Nurses, and All Who Have Charge of the Young and the Sick. G.P. Putnam & Sons. New York. 1873.

Scanadu Invites You To Donate Your Spit For Science!

The Scanadu Team


IF YOU DO, help us better understand the biology of upper respiratory infections and/or the flu. Your spit may, down the line, help reduce unnecessary antibiotic use, help limit the spread of respiratory pathogens and contribute to a new product design.

Benefits of participating:

-An opportunity to participate in science and help Scanadu out

-A $10 Amazon gift card

-Upon request, we will be happy to share your experimental results. It is understood that this is not an approved diagnostic test and results should not be used for medical diagnosis.

Who can participate?

-Children 6+ years and adults (parent/guardian consent required for children under the age of 18)

-Currently experiencing a common cold, sore throat or influenza

-Currently living in the United States

How do I participate?

Click the following link for more information and to sign-up:

Need more information? 

For questions regarding participation in this study and the collection of saliva, please contact or

Thank you!


Day 3 of FutureMed

Alan Greene, MD, FAAP

November 8, 2013

FutureMed is a gathering of thought leaders to explore how exponential advances in technology will affect healthcare in the near future and beyond. Moore’s Law is giving us a doubling of computational power at least every two years. In some parts of medicine, such as genome sequencing, progress is accelerating several times faster than Moore’s Law would predict. What are the possibilities for improving diagnosis and treatment?

It was fitting that the opening keynote session at FutureMed 2013 was kicked off by Scanadu CEO Walter De Brouwer taking us through the deep future of medical tricorders over the next several decades. Next, Eric Topol put the Scanadu Scout and other tricorders in the context of other rapid advances, making Walter’s prediction of a medical tricorder in every home in the US by 2018, analogous to today’s homes having thermometers, seem plausible indeed.

As innovation after innovation was highlighted at the exuberant and optimistic San Diego gathering, several speakers mentioned the William Gibson observation, “the future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.” Are these amazing innovations going to benefit just the tech-savvy, or will they have a broader impact?

On Day 3 the attention of the gathering turned to global health. We’re living in a world where developing nations are the fastest growing, and soon most of the world’s population may live in urban slums.

Lisa Kennedy, PhD, of GE Healthy Imagination, pointed out in her talk that these very same tools, including the Scanadu Scout, are an important part of making global healthcare cheaper, smaller, and more mobile.

The objects of fascination of early adopters may help change the world.

Navigating London, Navigating your Health

Alan Greene, MD, FAAP

September 13, 2013

Driving a taxi in London changes the driver’s brain, building a larger memory center (more gray matter) than others of the same age and intelligence.

People who want to become a London taxi driver must complete intense training, memorizing 25,000 streets, 20,000 landmarks, and 320 core routes through the city. The task takes an average of about 3 years before successfully challenging “The Knowledge”, a test that is among the hardest to pass in the world.

What about GPS devices?

A 2013 cross-London race, between a consumer with a GPS and an unaided London cab driver, was easily won by the black cab --26:06 minutes versus 29:37 minutes (the cab driver quipped, “We nearly left for coffee” while waiting at the finishing line).

Of course, I’d prefer a trained cab driver who also had GPS and access to the Internet if needed.

Still, even though the consumer made some sub-optimal turns, got stuck in a bit of preventable traffic, and lost the race, the untrained consumer only took an extra 3 ½ minutes across London. Not bad!

Navigating your Health

Consumer health and medical devices are still a few years behind automobile navigation – but they’re catching up fast.

I’m grateful for the years of intense training and study I’ve invested to become a physician. I expect my brain has changed. And I do know more than just facts about diseases and treatments; I know nuance, I know context, I know health. But I’m not always there when health questions arise or decisions are made.

I’m also grateful for the emergence of the medical tricorder – a growing system of health tools to help people determine where they are, where they want to go, and how best to get there.

This is something people could use every day, wherever they are, for issues big and small, acute and chronic – without waiting for an annual physical, or even the urgent care visit – to learn the next turn to take.

Health Screening in the Era of Big Data

Alan Greene, MD, FAAP

August 5, 2013

“Hello, am I speaking with Alan Greene? We have a few credit card charges we’d like to confirm…”

Every now and then I get a call from my credit card company because a charge doesn’t fit my regular pattern. Sometimes my location, the item I’m purchasing, or the merchant I’m using is far enough out of my routine that the card company’s algorithms indicate it is worth spending the time and money to confirm the purchase is okay, rather than just waiting until the next regularly scheduled statement arrives.

Most of the time these charges turn out to be normal, but every now and then they catch important problems. And catch them early.

Big data allow proactive protection – for me and for those with a financial stake.

Similarly, health screenings allow us to detect medical problems early. But current screening recommendations call for analyzing a very small number of screening tests performed quite infrequently. You can download an app or use a web tool to find what the US Preventive Services Task Force recommends for you.

For many adults, there is a full year between recommended screenings – and in some cases two years, five years, or even more. But health problems don’t start on an annual schedule.

Thankfully, we’re living in a time where mobile sensors, Bluetooth devices, and smartphone-enabled technologies are allowing us to collect valuable information about our bodies in real time. Analytics are making it possible to alert us when something is far enough outside of our own normal pattern that it’s worth considering.

Rather than checking blood pressure every two years, and at some point learning that it has already gotten too high (which then needs to be confirmed on two more visits to be sure it wasn’t an anomaly), it can be quick and easy to map your own pattern and know when it is changing while it is still in the normal range, but moving in the wrong direction.

We stand at the verge of amazing insights into our bodies. In ways that were never practical in the past, our own body’s big data, analyzed quietly in the background, can help us learn when our health is improving – or not - at just the right moment… long before the next time we actually make it in for a check-up.