Chemical test device diagnoses without internet
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
A handheld device that performs a range of chemical tests and transmits the results for remote analysis through a standard mobile phone call could be commercially available within 12 months.
The device, known as the uMED (universal Mobile Electrochemical Detector), could cost as little as US$10 to buy once a manufacturing process is in place, its developers say. It can detect levels of glucose ormalaria-causing parsites in blood, salts in urine, and toxic metals inwater.
The device plugs into the audio port of a mobile phone and transmits its test results to a cloud server as a series of coded tones through a standard (2G) audio phone call. Usually 3G and 4G networks are required to transmit remote diagnostics, but in the developing world their coverage can be patchy.
“The device would connect to any cell phone,” says Alex Nemiroski, a chemist at Harvard University in the United States and one of the device’s developers. This is important because “there are cell phones and 2G networks all over, even in places where there are no roads and no running water”, he says.