image

We focus on detecting change in moles from digital images and to make our service smooth and versatile to use, we chose to develop a smartphone app.

Before diving into the problem, we thought it was going to be easy. Smartphones are extremely powerful computationally and advanced in terms of camera technology. Well, we were wrong. Dramatically wrong.

Ignoring the large number of artefacts introduced by the native picture post-processing layers (no, you can’t really circumvent them if you want to legally spread your app), getting a good sharp image was really hard.

Despite the incredible power of our algorithms, a blurry picture is definitively not a pleasant thing to deal with when you are looking for subtle changes in peculiar features of the mole. Same thing for very dark images. Sometimes we almost struggled to see the mole ourselves!

That’s why we came up with a series of checks, performed before submitting the picture to the cloud. We developed a few techniques to check if your picture is out of focus, suffers from motion blur or it’s just underexposed.

It seems easy, right? Again, not at all!

In contrast to your holiday pictures, skin usually lacks of sharp edges and landmarks. That has two different drawbacks: the autofocus system was often tricked and struggled to take a picture in focus. And it also makes a lot more difficult for us to assess if an image was actually out of focus or not, since there is no element to evaluate.

We tried and discarded many techniques before settling on a few tests that we are quite proud of. You can always drop us an email if you want to know more…

We do understand that taking pictures of skin is not an easy job, and especially the first few times you may have a hard time trying to pass our quality checks. But, trust me, the problem is not your photography skills and we are continuing to work on the problem.

Here are some hints that may help:

Try to take your photo from a not too close distance. Little by little you will understand the capability and limits of your device and what is the perfect distance to obtain a decent sized mole without losing focus. You’ll also get a feel for which light will give you a good picture and which will make life tricky.

We are convinced that after so many boring family albums, you will enjoy creating something different and, under a certain light (!), more helpful to you and your family!

– Pietro, the guy doing the hard work…