sKan – The Inexpensive Skin Cancer Detector Wins James Dyson Award

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer globally. Even though it should be easy to detect as it is visible on the skin, the doctors often miss the melanomas which are under the skin during a visual inspection. This leads to times when the melanomas are actually detected, it’s already too late. sKan is a device that can detect the anomalies associated with melanomas in the skin and is a much more efficient way to detect skin cancer.

A team from McMaster University in Canada is behind the development of sKan. They based it on the fact that cancer cells have a higher metabolic rate as compared to normal cells. This leads to them releasing more heat. The portion of the skin to be checked with sKan is first cooled with an ice pack and if there is an infected portion, it heats up more quickly.

(Source: James Dyson Awards)

The sKan uses an array of thermistors, the skin is monitored as the skin heats back up and the portion heating up more rapidly is indicated. This is a non-invasive thermal imaging technique and even though similar techniques existed in the past, they cost tens of thousands of dollars and the latest detector comes with a much smaller price tag of $770.

You can watch the video explaining how it works here:


“By using widely available and inexpensive components, the sKan could allow for melanoma skin cancer detection to be readily accessible to the many,” says James Dyson. “It’s a very clever device with the potential to save lives around the world. This is why I have selected it as this year’s international winner.”

(Source: James Dyson Awards)

The team was very happy to have won the award of $40,000 and say that they will use the money to continue the development of their product.¬†“Winning the James Dyson Award means the world to us,” the team says in a statement. “The prize money will help us to continue developing a medical device that can save¬†people’s lives. We are truly humbled and excited to be given this remarkable opportunity.”

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