New app can turn a smartphone into food allergy detector

2 August 2013

Do prawns make you puke? Do you go into anaphylactic shock at the mere sight of a cashew? Well, scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign are developing a handheld biosensor that could turn your iPhone into a device able to test for food allergies.


The cradle device and app can transform a smartphone into a sensor that can carry out complicated tests that would otherwise need to take place in lab. For example, if you’re allergic to nuts but are offered an unidentified biscuit, you would put a sample into a plastic vial and run it through the cradles’ biosensor. Then the phone would be able to tell you whether you’d be OK to eat it - or whether you were going to be on the floor clutching your throat within minutes.

As well as food allergies, the technology could be used to test for other types of illness. The sensor rules out the need for full blood tests and long waits for results. All that’s needed is a fingerprint of blood, mixed with fluid, and the biosensor can be used by doctors to quickly diagnose disease on the spot. It could also be used by environmentalists to measure contamination.

Another food allergen sensor – called the iTube - was developed at UCLA in 2012 but preparing the test took 20 minutes. With this one you just shake that vial and find out whether that cookie will kill you. Easy!

TOPICS:   Technology   Mobile   Health


  • Captain.Cretin
    I think I will wait until they can turn my phone into a full Star Trek TriCorder. But thanks anyway.
  • shiftynifty always get the crappy articles to write....intern?
  • hotmail r.
    In my opinion, Lucy gets a lot of undeserved hassle for her work here, mostly I think because the readers don't get her sense of humour, but I find her articles enjoyable. Until I read this, it's like a child made up a story and then another child ripped up the paper and scrunched it into balls and stuck it on a collage and then a third child wrote down the story again in the random order they found the misinformation on the collage. "app can turn a smartphone into food allergy detector" no it can't. The cradle is a chemical analysis device. The app mearly allows the phone to translate some signals from the cradle into something you (not you Lucy) can understand. as well as testing a biscuit for traces of peanut, "the technology could be used to test for other types of illness", because biscuits with traces of peanut are illness - no wait, they're not. there is so much more but i have to go and gouge my eyes out because it is preferable to spending any more time on this page.
  • Shiftyniftysshadow
    Oh Lucy what you have you rules gouging his eyes out ....shiftynifty questioning if your an's all gone pete tong
  • wOnKeY h.
    if only the foxes do
  • Big M.
    New app turns smartphone into car. Simply connect it to a special cradle with wheels and engine.
  • hotmail r.
    Now that, big mozzer, sounds like a story worth reading!

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