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Smartphone Allergy Tester

January 1, 2013

Smartphones with a small device attached can be used to test for food allergies.



Smartphone allergy testing.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Both scientists and ordinary people now have the ability to collect and share all kinds of data with the help of their smartphones. In some cases, the information they gather could even save lives. For instance, a group of researchers at UCLA has developed a device called the iTube, which attaches to the back of the phone and tests for food allergens using the phone’s camera and a specialized app. Engineer Aydogan Ozcan explains.


If there is some contamination of allergen in the food, the color of the test tube will change. And this gives us the ability to detect in parts per million the concentration of the allergen, for instance, peanut, in your food.


He says the device could be used by individuals with allergies to avoid eating something dangerous. And the data collected could help pinpoint hotspots where food with unmarked allergens is routinely sold. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Left: The iTube platform, which utilizes colorimetric assays and a smart phone-based digital reader. Right: A screen capture of the iTube App.