A $35 Smartphone-Based “Dongle” Tests HIV, Syphilis Now
HIV is the kind of a disease that people would be equally freaked out to discuss with public as they would be when they find out they have been infected.
Whether to make it easier in such conditions, just for the furtherance of technology, a group of biomedical engineers based in Columbia University have built a “dongle” that gets attached to a smartphone and tests for HIV as well as Syphilis on the go.
The device has a very small price tag of $35 and it performs laboratory quality tests in less than 15 minutes only!
All you have to do is prick a finger for a drop of blood and the gadget processes it using the basic optics and fluid control with the mobile phone’s processing power.
People from the medical profession would know that state of the art assay, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) can cost up to $18,450 for the equipment required. Compared to that, the $35 price tag is nothing but spare change – and it is expected that the price could be lowered further if the product gets to mass production.
Here’s a video of the dongle performing an HIV test:
One of the researchers who has been working on the project said that this smartphone based accessory and other steps like this can make lab quality tests accessible to a larger chunk of the populace:
Our work shows that a full laboratory-quality immunoassay can be run on a smartphone accessory. Coupling microfluidics with recent advances in consumer electronics can make certain lab-based diagnostics accessible to almost any population with access to smartphones. This kind of capability can transform how health care services are delivered around the world.
Industry members are also commented on the matter; for instance Karen Lightman the executive director of trade association MEMS Industry Group, says that the implications of such steps are huge:
It has huge implications. We are on the cusp of a lot of exciting technology being connected to smartphone devices. But security, ramping up volume, price, all those things are really important.
Despite the fact that we are in a generally open minded world now, there are societal issues that end up steering people away from braving the situation and getting tested for things like HIV. If alternatives like these are available – and reliable – then I am sure it will be a good step forward.