A smartphone-powered urine test? Yes, says a group of Stanford engineers, who have created an experimental urinalysis testing system involving a black box and a smartphone. From a Stanford News story yesterday:
Writing in Lab on a Chip, a journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, [Audrey (Ellerbee) Bowden, PhD] and Gennifer Smith, a PhD student in electrical engineering, detail their new low-cost, portable device that would allow patients to get consistently accurate urine test results at home, easing the workload on primary care physicians.
Other do-it-yourself systems are emerging, but the Stanford engineers think their approach is inexpensive and reliable, in part because they base their system on the same tried and trusted dipstick used in medical offices.
Writer Shara Tonn details exactly how the system works and outlines the need for such a test: The current paper test, which is used to detect (among other things) kidney disease, diabetes, urinary tract infections, "takes time, costs money and creates backlogs for clinics and primary care physicians;" and often yields inconclusive results. Tonn also writes of the researchers:
...They are working with the Stanford Office of Technology Licensing to see whether and how the idea might be commercialized, either as a home test in developed nations or as a baseline medical instrument in areas that don’t have easy access to well-stocked clinics.
“It’s such a hassle to go into the doctor’s office for such a simple test,” said Smith. “This device can remove the burden in developed countries and in facilities where they don’t have the resources to do these tests."
Animation by Gennifer Smith/Stanford University School of Engineering