The free permanent exhibition Who am I? invites visitors to explore the science behind our identity through objects, artworks and hands-on exhibits. As part of this exhibition, a new display entitled Too Much Information? Health Tests Today questions the future availability of healthcare in our homes, now that technology has made medical devices smaller, cheaper, and faster.
Flusurvey is a citizen science project launched in 2009, which collects weekly data on flu symptoms directly from the UK public throughout the winter flu season. Anyone can register their health information to add to the survey of where and when cases of flu occur, creating the UK’s biggest source of observational data that is then analysed as part of a Europe-wide effort to monitor flu trends. Flusurvey data also feeds into national surveillance programmes.
Influenza-like illness across the UK is shown on an interactive map, which can be seen in the Science Museum display. The survey is particularly valuable as many people with flu may not visit the doctor, meaning their data is not included in traditional observations.
Peek (portable eye examination kit) uses smartphones to test eyes easily and affordably anywhere in the world. Globally, 285 million people are visually impaired and 80% have diseases which could be cured or prevented. However, most live in low-income countries and remain in the dark because of limited access to specialist clinics.
With ongoing global research in real-life settings, Peek is working to reduce avoidable blindness by increasing access to high-quality eye care. The Peek app to test visual acuity was recently found to be as effective as traditional eye charts.
Flusurvey and Peek are on display alongside other portable healthcare technology and advanced prototype health tests. What can we expect to be able to find out in our homes? What could that mean for how you live your life? And just how much health information are you comfortable with having?
Too Much Information? Health Tests Today is open until 25 September 2015.
Image: Flusurvey and Peek at the Science Museum. Credit: Science Museum.