Intelligent Machines

Melanoma Monitor

Nov 1, 1999

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is curable if you notice it early enough-when a mole on your body first changes in appearance. But that’s not so easy if the mole is on your back, or if you have a lot of them.

A “melanoma monitor” being developed at the University of Rochester’s Center for Future Health may be able to watch your moles for you. A set of home digital cameras-in the shower, for example-would periodically take pictures of your body. A computer would compare images over time and alert you if it detected a change. Present software can detect changes on a human arm. Rochester computer scientist Kiriakos N.Kutulakos estimates full-body versions could be in doctors’ offices in five years, and in the home in 10.