Student-made app identifies medical conditions by scanning your fingernails

Kyle Chua
Student-made app identifies medical conditions by scanning your fingernails
Bionyx, developed by students from the Technological Institute of the Philippines Quezon City, wins the local finals of the 2018 Microsoft Imagine Cup

MANILA, Philippines – A group of computer engineering students from the Technological Institute of the Philippines Quezon City developed a mobile app that can identify medical conditions in the blood, heart, liver, and lungs through a scan of a person’s fingernails.

Team Onyx, the app’s developers, based their project on scientific research that connect a person’s overall health with the color and state of their fingernails. While it cannot replace a visit with the doctor, warning signs for vitamin deficiency, anemia, and other illnesses may appear right at a person’s fingertips.

According to them, the app looks to significantly decrease the chances of people dying from disease by providing them an early diagnosis of their medical condition.

Aptly called Bionyx, the app’s name is a portmanteau of the Latin words “bio”, which means “life” and “onyx”, which means “fingernail.” The app quite literally makes the process of identifying potentially life-threatening illnesses as easy and accessible as taking a photo from a mobile phone.

To use the app, users simply take a photo of their fingernail which the app analyzes and matches from a database of uploaded medical photos of healthy and unhealthy fingernails tagged with their corresponding diseases. It then processes the data and computes the percentage chance of the user having a particular disease.

The app itself is built on cloud computing platform Microsoft Azure and utilizes its cloud computing capabilities to store and process all the medical data sets that it uses as reference for its analyzation. The data sets uploaded by Team Onyx were obtained from published medical journals, online books, and other reference materials verified by a professional dermatologist.

The app also uses Azure’s image recognition artificial intelligence (AI), Custom Vision, to identify the state and color of fingernails in photos.


In its current state, the app requires a working internet connection to be able to analyze photos of a user’s fingernail with the data sets uploaded in the app’s cloud service. Team Onyx is aware that this may limit the app’s userbase so they’re considering making an offline version where all data is integrated in the app itself.

Despite having at least 300 data sets uploaded, the team said that they have barely scratched the surface when it comes to their app having the needed amount of medical data and photos to yield high levels of accuracy in results. 

On top of this, lighting can drastically affect the color and appearance of fingernails in photos, making it difficult for the AI to perform its task correctly.

The team is already working on addressing some of these problems now that they are less pressured by the time constraints of competition and their academic priorities.

They said they are planning to reach out to more doctors, hospitals, and organizations to provide the medical data the app needs to expand its database. Additionally, they are honing the AI’s ability to better recognize and identify colors by conducting more tests with people.

The app requires first time users to sign-up for an account within the app itself. Having an account allows users to save and export a PDF format file of their results to their email addresses. The team plans to eventually add Google and Facebook account support for logins.

Currently, Bionyx only runs on Android but the team already has plans of adding iOS and Windows desktop support down the line.

Imagine Cup 2018

Team Onyx, composed of Daniel Soriano, Romie Santiago, and Kyle Regino, won the Imagine Cup Philippine finals, held in Makati last March, which had 5 student teams compete for a chance at a P50,000 prize and an opportunity to represent the country in the Asia-Pacific Finals of the competition.

Rappler met the team just a few days after coming home from the Asia-Pacific Finals held in Kuala Lumpur, where their Imagine Cup journey ended.

Though slightly disappointed, Team Onyx said they were very proud of what they accomplished and happy to have been given the chance to compete.

Last year, the Philippine representative for the competition, Team Opticode finished Top 10 in the World Finals where 54 other teams from 39 different countries competed for the $100,000 cash prize and mentorship experiences.

Dubbed the “Olympics of Technology”, the Imagine Cup is an annual global student competition hosted by Microsoft that showcases technological ideas and innovations. –

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