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How researchers are using old phones to screen for Alzheimer’s

Your Pixel 4 can do more than you think

When we talk about health and tech, usually the conversation is around newer devices like wearables. But newer isn’t always better, especially for one group of researchers using an old Pixel 4 to screen for neurological diseases using just the selfie cam from the phone.

The DigiHealth Lab at UC San Diego, directed by Professor Edward Wang, looks at ubiquitous technology like smartphones to figure out how they can be used to monitor our health. The idea is that, by building digital health tools that work on more common devices, they can increase access to more people — particularly people who might not be able to afford the latest smartwatch or fitness tech.

We spoke with Colin Barry from the lab to tell us more about how the modified Pixel 4 works and even run some diagnostic testing on ourselves. We also checked in with our reporter Nicole Wetsman to explain to us how this technology could have both positive impacts as well as some unexpected pitfalls.