iPhone & nico


These days there seems to be an app for everything, from entertainment to organization. For those with life threatening peanut allergies, an app, and some pricey technology, could potentially turn your iPhone into a futuristic biosensor that will detect toxins, proteins, bacteria, viruses and molecules that could trigger allergies.

A research team at the University of Urbana-Champaign has developed a way to use a phone’s camera and processing power to act as a biosensor. The biosensor would allow the user to analyze a sample of food in just a few minutes. The cradle for the phone holds just $200 worth of optical components, but could potentially do the work of a $50,000 spectrophotometer, according to psys.org.

“We’re interested in biodetection that needs to be performed outside of the laboratory,” said team leader Brian Cunningham, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and of bioengineering at the University of Illinois.

“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,” Cunningham says. “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.”