Earlier this year, Chenbin Liu and co-authors from the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Nanjing University (Nanjing, China) published in the IEEE Sensors Journal on the use of a mobile phone to detect skin mechanical properties and hydration.
According to the article abstract, one widely used method by clinicians to detect skin hydration is the skin turgor or pressure test, which is a visual assessment of skin's mechanical properties. While no special equipment is necessary, it lacks quantification and is hard to practice by non-experts.
These inventors, however, developed a way to perform this test using a mobile phone camera. The camera captures and quantifies the dynamic processes of skin stretching and relaxation related to hydration in two ways: by tracking a mark drawn on the skin and assessing the skin's natural texture change during the turgor test.
They make it sound so easy, who knows what's next? A true SPF protection test at the tap of a touchscreen? Or HPLC sample scan? Applications like these are probably not as far off as we may think.