Of all the reasons that children are taken to the pediatrician, ear infections are among the most common. The children don't like going, obviously, plus those visits place a burden on parents and doctors alike. That's why San Francisco-based medical tech firm CellScope created the Oto HOME. It's a smartphone attachment that lets parents image the inside of their child's ear at home, and then show the video to a pediatrician via the internet.

The Oto HOME package currently consists of an iPhone 5/5s-compatible case, and an otoscope attachment that mounts on that case, over top of the phone's camera. Otoscopes, by the way, are those conical light-equipped optical devices that doctors use to look inside your ear.

Once parents have recorded some footage of their child's achy ear canal, they use the Oto Connect service to share that video with an on-call pediatrician who's part of the program. That doctor can assess the problem, and send a prescription to a pharmacy if needed.

So far, Oto HOME is only available in limited release, to residents of California. It can be pre-ordered for US$79, which includes one free "remote visit" – subsequent visits will cost $49 each. Shipping is expected to begin in late December. Residents of other states can sign up for notification of when it will be available in their region, which is estimated to be in the middle of next year.

CellScope also makes a version for use by pediatricians in their offices, called the Oto PRO. It's available for pre-order across the US, for $299. There's no word on a rollout of either model in other countries.

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