Researchers at Harvard University have devised a new portable device that can perform a slew of tests, including detecting malaria and measuring blood glucose levels, using a special electrochemical sensor.
The device looks almost exactly like a glucose meter, with a test strip onto which samples are loaded sticking out of the bottom. Total manufacturing cost of the device is $25 and is about the size of a smartphone.
AdvertisementThe handy device has an audio-out port, which allows it to transmit its readings via a cellphone to an online server. Because just about every mobile phone in existence has an audio-in jack, it makes the device compatible anywhere there's a cell signal.
The user simply selects the test to be performed, loads a sample, including any necessary reagent, and presses start. The device vibrates the test strip to mix the sample and reagent runs an electric current through it, and spits out the results on the screen.
"By applying a small amount of electricity to a drop of blood mixed with a reagent, the device can gauge glucose levels. The same goes for heavy metals in water, malaria antigens in blood, and sodium in urine," researchers explained.
The new technology is currently in trials out in the field, with five units already deployed in India and being used by clinicians.