Smartphone pregnancy tests are now one step closer to becoming mainstream. Say goodbye to bulky lab equipment, a self-contained fibre optic sensor will soon allow your smartphone to take pregnancy tests or monitor diabetes, researchers say.
Researchers at the Hanover Centre for Optical Technologies (HOT), University of Hanover, Germany, have developed a sensor for smartphones with the potential for use in a wide variety of bimolecular tests, including those for detecting pregnancy, monitoring diabetes as well as multiple types of body fluids.
“When properly provisioned, the smartphone-user has the ability to monitor multiple types of body fluids, including: blood, urine, saliva, sweat or breath,” said the researchers from the University of Hanover.
Smartphone pregnancy experience will provide real-time results
Researchers found a way for sensor’s readings to be accessible through an application on your smartphone, providing real-time results.
“We have the potential to develop small and robust lab-on-a-chip devices for smartphones,” said Kort Bremer, co-author of the new study with Bernhard Roth, director of the Hanover Centre for Optical Technologies (HOT).
The sensor readings can even be combined with the GPS signal of a smartphone, helping users to find the nearest drug store, hospital or ambulance, researchers say.
“Smartphone pregnancy” and other low-cost, portable diagnostic platforms
Researchers believe that the sensor system could be easily integrated in a cover of a smartphone or used as a low-cost, portable point-of-care diagnostic platform.
Currently, many different approaches have been investigated to provide timely tests and results to patients through smartphones and mobile phones. For instance, digital microscopes for mobile devices have already been developed. Yet, this is the first time that researchers come up with a smartphone pregnancy test that has the potential of becoming mainstream .
The study, published in Optics Express, a journal of The Optical Society, describes the sensor as using an optional phenomenon of surface plasmon resonance (SPR) to carry out biological and chemical analyses. SPR occurs when lights causes electrons on the surface of a thin film to jostle. This usually requires a whole lab with light detectors and sources, but smartphones already have both of these requirements incorporated in their bodies, making the development of such technology a lot easier for researchers.
Pregnancy-related smartphone technology
With the rise of smartphones, tablets and wearable devices, there’s no shortage of pregnancy-related high-tech products on the market. Applications for smartphones such as BabyBump or WebMD Pregnancy provide pregnancy calendars and weekly illustrations showing the baby’s development. The smartphone pregnancy revolution is just around the corner, wait and see.