Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a new iPhone cradle and software piece that can turn an average iPhone into a biosensor. The sensor can test for toxins and pathogens and can perform other forms of medical testing. The cradle is made up of a wide variety of filters and lenses that work with the iPhone’s camera. Though the case is only made of roughly $200 of materials, it is as accurate as $50,000 laboratory spectrometers. According to U of I’s website, the case could bring a whole new form of portable scanning to field researchers, allowing them to test groundwater contamination on the fly.
Brian Cunningham, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at U of I, has said the following on the case:
“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.”
The university has just received an NFS grant to explore more options for the device. U of I has also stated that the team behind the biosensor cradle is in the process of making an Android-compatible cradle.