SKan Is a Handheld Device That Detects Skin Cancer

Beauty of this invention really is skin‑deep

Dyson award-winning device can scan for skin cancer at a fraction of usual cost

The sKan team from McMaster University, Canada. Dyson said he chose the Canadian students as the prize winners because their invention has the "potential to save lives around the world". The sKan uses accurate and cheap temperature sensors to pinpoint areas of tissue that gain heat quicker than the surrounding area of skin. Cancerous cells have a high metabolic rate - or release energy more quickly - than normal cells, so will regain heat more quickly than non-cancerous tissue after the ice pack is taken off. In addition to the honor of winning the James Dyson award, the sKan team will receive $40,000, which it plans to use to refine the device's design to meet US Food and Drug Administration standards. One person dies of Melanoma every hour, and it is one of the deadliest and the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Upon announcing the award victor James Dyson said: "By using widely available and affordable components, the Skan allows for melanoma skin cancer detection to be readily accessible to the many".

Current early diagnostic methods for melanoma rely on visual inspections, which are inaccurate, or more advanced method which is time consuming or expensive. "That said, it is more important - now than ever before - to check for signs of skin cancer". The sKan uses thermistors, i.e. thermally sensitive resistors, to spot if a suspect mole or lesion is malignant through thermal heat mapping. The results of this are displayed as a heat map and temperature difference time plot on using a regular computer.

And it indeed is low cost, the sKan will likely be less than $1,000, which is considered on the lower end of the spectrum when discussing medical equipment.

Dyson founder James Dyson says: "By using widely available and affordable components, the SKan allows for melanoma skin cancer detection to be readily accessible to the many".

The benefactor of the award is James Dyson whose name you probably recognize because he's the infamous inventor who often graces the TV screen for commercials promoting his world-famous Dyson vacuums (and hairdryer).

"We are truly humbled and excited to be given this remarkable opportunity", says the sKan team.

Two runners-up have also been awarded £5,000 to develop their products. This year that include the Atropos, a 3D-printing robotic arm created to reduce the amount of waste material, and the Twistlight, a device that uses LED lights to guide needles right into the vein to reduce the amount of misses.

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