App to detect peanut allergens using smartphone and cradle
Researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign have developed a cradle and app that works with your smart phone and turns it into a handheld biosensor. Inside the cradle mirror are a series of lenses and filters which work like a larger lab device, but this cradle promises to deliver allergen information, toxin readouts, and even diagnose disease even faster than labs. Although the actual testing time is not mentioned during the demonstration, it’s fairly clear you’ll be able to expect the same speed and precision we’ve come to rely on from our smartphones.
Kenny Long, a graduate level researcher who is developing the app and cradle, says the new technology is due to modifications made to the smartphone’s camera.
From all accounts, testing is simple. Researchers crumbled up a cookie or food which may have contained peanuts, put it in a vial of liquid, shook it, then extracted the liquid and hooked up to the cradle. A read out of the various additives will appear on the smartphone screen.
What does this mean for parents? For those of you who stress about peanut allergies on a daily basis, a peanut allergy testing app could take the second guessing out of the food your child consumes. Plus, an app to detect peanut allergens could also assist teachers in schools before they hand out a group snack or make something as a class.
As someone who has witnessed a few epi pens pulled out just because a teacher wasn’t quite sure if peanuts or tree nuts were in the food, an app to detect peanut allergies would definitely make a world of difference.
Check out the video on the smartphone biosensor via The Globe and Mail.