7. Diagnostic device uses smartphone’s built-in cameraLab-grade medical diagnostic tests can be performed using a smartphone, thanks to new technology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Researchers at the university developed a spectral transmission-relectance-intensity (TRI) Analyzer. While it is costly (priced at $550), the researchers suggest that it could be used for point-of-care diagnostics in developing countries.
“The two proof-of-concept tests that we did (a marker for pre-term birth, and one for a genetic nutritional deficiency that is diet-manageable, if found close to birth) were both actually in that realm. There are literally thousnds of tests that would be amenable to translation, including areas such as healthcare, environmental monitoring and sanitation,” said Kenny Long, lead author of the research study.
The TRI Analyzer works by converting the smartphone camera into a high-performance spectrometer. It is able to illuminate a sample of fluid using the phone’s white LED flash or with an external green laser diode. The light from the sample is then collected in an optical fiberand is guided through a diffraction grating to the rear-facing internal camera on the smartphone, according to the researchers.
It can also measure multiple samples by using a microfluidic cartridge that is inserted through an opening in the back of the 3D printed cradle that houses the optical components. The fact that it can quickly analyze multiple samples reliably makes it ideal for patients who don’t have access to a clinic or hospital with diagnostic test facilities.
“Our analyzer can scan many tests in a sequence by swiping the cartridge past the readout head, in a similar manner to the way magnetic strip credit cards are swiped,” said Long in a press release.
Brian Cunningham, Donald Biggar Willett Professor of Engineering and director of the Micro + Nanotechnology Lab at the university, suggests that the device could also be used for environmental monitoring, drug testing, manufacturing quality control and food safety.