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DERMOCAL: a capacitive DEvice for skin suRface MOrphologiCal anALysis

OBJECTIVE This research aims at developing a portable and low-cost system able to achieve automatically, in vivo and routinely, measurements of the skin surface to quantify the skin changes in dermo-cosmetic treatments.

PARTNER This research has been carried out together with a team of dermatologists of the Maggiore-Bellaria hospital of Bologna.

SUMMARY The automated analysis of images and sequences could play a crucial role in most of the computer vision systems for medical images. The assessment of pathologies or treatments is often entirely still left to human (visual) evaluation, because of the objective difficulty to develop automated (or computer aided) assessment systems, also due to the human health being a critical issue. In the field of dermatology and dermocosmetics, providing an automated and accurate characterization of the skin surface is a basic requirement to enable a quantitative assessment of the effects of environmental exposure, physiological changes or dermocosmetic treatments. In normal subjects, skin ageing is the most visible effect: with aging, the skin surface changes its appearance from both physiological and morphological points of view.
Many approaches have been proposed to characterize the cells of the skin surface, some of them employing highly accurate, but very expensive, device and methods for off-line analyses. Dermatologists demand systems to achieve in vivo and routinely the automated assessment of treatments. On the other side, some other approaches provide for portable systems, but they often offer incomplete and low quality information. We have developed an original system relying on a compact and low-cost capacitive device, originally developed for fingerprint acquisition and recognition. It can give accurate measurements of planar and depth skin structures using a detailed map (12×18 mm2) of the skin surface in terms of grey level values with a resolution of 50 µm/pixel.

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