Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Teaching dermatology to medical students entails a series of lectures, pictures, and hands-on skin examinations to convey a sense of skin features and textures, often by use of simulated skin models. However, such methods can often lack accurate visual and tactile texture representation of skin lesions. To facilitate learning, we have developed a smartphone-based skin simulation model, which provides a configurable visual and tactile sense of a lesion by using the ubiquitous availability of smartphone-based mobile platforms.

METHODS: A polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) overlay was used as a configurable translucent elastomer material to model the stiffness and texture of skin. A novel custom smartphone-based app was developed to capture images of various skin lesions, which were subsequently displayed on a tablet or second smartphone, over which the PDMS model skin elastomer was placed. Using the local Bluetooth connection between mobile devices, an iterative feedback algorithm corrected the visual distortion caused by the optical scattering of the translucent elastomer, enabling better virtual visualization of the lesion.

RESULTS: The developed smartphone-based app corrected the distortion of images projected through the simulated skin elastomer. Surface topography of the developed PDMS elastomer provided a more accurate representation of skin texture.

CONCLUSIONS: In this investigation, we developed a smartphone-based skin lesion visualization app with a simulated skin elastomer for training/education in not only dermatology but also all general medical specialties that examine the skin. This technique has the potential to advance the educational experience by giving students the ability to see, touch, and feel pragmatic skin textures and lesions.

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