Scanadu Launches “Spit for Science” Campaign

12-19-2013 11-48-41 AM

Scanadu launches a new program asking anyone with a fever, cough, or cold to donate saliva samples to the startup as part of an effort to further its understanding of basic upper respiratory conditions. Scanadu is mailing collection kits to anyone that signs up, asking that participants fill in a short questionnaire, and send it back with a saliva sample.

There is no concrete explanation on what Scandu plans to use the samples for. The Scanadu website describes two products, the Scanadu Scout and the ScanaFlo, neither of which involve saliva analysis. The Scanadu Scout is the highly anticipated digital tricorder that drove Scanadu’s Indiegogo campaign to a record breaking $1.3 million. The ScanaFlo is an at-home urinalysis that will test for pregnancy, urinary infections, and a number of other conditions.

A press release issued by the company just weeks ago references Project ScanaFlu. The release does not explain much about the project, but does say that it will analyze saliva. The press release was written to announce Scanadu’s $10 million series A round, and the ScanaFlu was referenced as something they’d be working on in the future. One month later, and it appears Scanadu is ready to get to work.

Promotional material for the Spit for Science campaign explains “your spit may, down the line, help reduce unnecessary antibiotic use, help limit the spread of respiratory pathogens and contribute to a new product design.” Scanadu isn’t relying on good will to drive participants to the mailbox though,  they’re offering a $10 Amazon gift card to anyone that sends them a sample, and are also committing to sending an unofficial diagnostic report back with information about what was found when the saliva was analyzed. Clearly, if Scanadu is already capable of processing diagnostic reports, Project ScanaFlu is further along than they’d originally suggested.

Anyone over the age of six, living in the United States, and experiencing a cold, sore throat, or flu symptoms are invited to participate in the program. Additional information and a form to request a collection kit be mailed to you can be found on Scanadu’s sign up form.

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