The heart of tech

This article was published on August 11, 2017


Smartphone diagnostic test could render labs obsolete

Smartphone diagnostic test could render labs obsolete
Tristan Greene
Story by

Tristan Greene

Editor, Neural by TNW

Tristan covers human-centric artificial intelligence advances, politics, queer stuff, cannabis, and gaming. Pronouns: He/him Tristan covers human-centric artificial intelligence advances, politics, queer stuff, cannabis, and gaming. Pronouns: He/him

Scientists have created a smartphone accessory that can test liquid samples for disease. The device is called a TRI Analyzer, it costs $550, and it puts a medical testing laboratory in the palm of your hand.

Researchers at the University of Illinois created the spectral-analysis device using a 3D-printer and and some ingenious engineering. The device can process samples of blood, saliva, or urine using the light from your phone’s flash, and the optics from its camera. It’s also highly adaptable. Project director Professor Brian Cunningham said:

It’s capable of performing the three most common types of tests in medical diagnostics, so in practice, thousands of already-developed tests could be adapted to it.

The implications of inexpensive, on-demand, consumer-led testing are immense. Patients who can’t travel to labs would be able to provide doctors with test results. Clinics without access to full-sized labs could provide in-house testing without purchasing expensive equipment.

Researchers also believe the device will be able to process drug tests, so no more waiting to get hired — or fired, no judgement. It’ll also have applications in environmental monitoring and food safety.

One step closer to Star Trek’s medical tricorder, next up we’ll take the food replicator please!