Biomedical engineers working at Columbia Engineering in the United States have recently developed a smartphone accessory which performs all of the functions of a conventional lab-based blood test, for only $34.
The accessory, which has been coined the “dongle” is capable of diagnosing both HIV and syphilis within 15 minutes and can be used on IPhone and Androids. The release of the dongle has been termed revolutionary as it empowers anyone with a smartphone to acquire a quick and efficient diagnosis of two prevalent and dangerous diseases, and allows them to sidestep long waits for lab results as well as the $18,450 overall equipment costs of these kinds of tests.
The dongle has also been lauded for its efficiency in terms of energy usage, given that it does not required its own stored energy, but rather pulls energy from the smartphone. In addition, the accessory has been modified to be less energy consuming
According to Samuel K. Sia, who was at the forefront of the development of the device “coupling microfluidics with recent advances in consumer electronics can make certain lab-based diagnostics accessible to almost any population with access to smartphones. This kind of capability can transform how health-care services are delivered around the world.”
The accessory has already been utilized in Rwanda, where it was used to test 96 patients in an attempt to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases between mothers and children. Feedback on the dongle has so far been positive, with patients claiming it was easier and more efficient to use and health workers claiming the same, citing the 30 minutes that was required to use the easy accessory.