The Mobile Laboratory

Mobile phones and tablet computers can be used in laboratory-type settings where PC based test stations are not appropriate. This is most often due to lack of space, for example when patients are being assessed on hospital wards, or in laboratory studies where cognition is not the primary outcome, and there is a lot of other equipment being used.. This is very different from the everyday assessment paradigm, but the portability of the devices is very valuable in these situations.

A different problem arises in a study being carried out at the University of Utrecht on effects of increasing atmospheric pressure. Divers obviously have to deal with increased pressure routinely, and this can lead to narcotic effects as nitrogen concentrations in blood increase with the depth of the dive, leading to feelings known as the "raptures of the deep". This can be simulated in the laboratory using a in a hyperbaric chamber.

Dr Joris Verster and colleagues are studying the cognitive effects of increased pressure. Using a PC for testing is not possible because  computers may implode because of the high pressure. Mobile phones have been tested in the hyperbaric chamber and they still function under pressure, and they did not implode. The phone has been tested using pressures up to 6 bar (50 mt of seawater).

We don't use wireless data transmission in this setting (in fact it would not be possible, as the pressure cage prevents wireless signals from being sent or received). Data are stored on the phones, and uploaded at the end of session.