Researchers Unveil iPhone Turned Tricorder

5-27-2013 10-49-43 PM

Researchers at the University of Illinois have designed both hardware and software that turns an iPhone into a Tricorder-like sensor that can be used for toxin and pathogen testing as well as medical diagnosis.

The hardware includes an assortment of lenses and filters which pivots over the camera lens of the phone, essentially turning the phone into a high-resolution spectrophotometer. The supplementary software guides the user through the testing process.

“Smartphones are making a big impact on our society – the way we get our information, the way we communicate. And they have really powerful computing capability and imaging. A lot of medical conditions might be monitored very inexpensively and non-invasively using mobile platforms like phones. They can detect molecular things, like pathogens, disease biomarkers or DNA, things that are currently only done in big diagnostic labs with lots of expense and large volumes of blood.” – Brian Cunningham, Professor of Bioengineering at University of Illinois

The device includes about $200 worth of optical parts, but has performed as accurately as large $50,000 spectrophotometers in medical labs. The portability of the device means that it could be used in a number of industries beyond healthcare, such as spot tracking groundwater contamination on work sites or inspecting food processing and distribution sites for contaminants.

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