Melanoma is often treatable as long as it’s spotted early, but there’s a big prerequisite in order for that to happen: The actual detection part.
Since the vast majority of current detection methods rely on visual inspection or a specialist’s opinion, it’s not always easy (or or affordable!) to determine whether or not you’re at risk. But one group of Canadian college grads created a super-efficient new device to identify skin cancer early on: The sKan can detect evidence of melanoma completely based on skin’s temperature.
“We discovered some research that showed cancerous tissue recovers faster from being cooled when compared to normal tissue.” —Rotimi Fadiya
“We discovered some research that showed cancerous tissue recovers faster from being cooled when compared to normal tissue,” Rotimi Fadiya, one of the four creators of sKan, said in a video. “It was important to us to be able to create something that could sit in a doctor’s office, and we knew that cost was one of the driving factors for making that a reality.” And at $1,000 per device, the innovation is a fraction of other tools’ prices, according to The Cut.
So how does sKan work? Put the device onto an area of which you’re weary, and it “shocks” your skin cells with a cold temperature. From there, it tracks how quickly the skin returns to its normal temperature by creating a thermal map of the area. If any cells that heated up faster than others, there’s a chance melanoma could be present, The Cut reports.
It could be a while before you’re able to use sKan for yourself, but it’s already making waves: The team won this year’s James Dyson Award—an international design honor for who students who engineer something that solves a problem. And who knows? Maybe the team’s innovative thinking could help beat the deadliest form of skin cancer once and for all.