Smartphone Science: Apps Test And Track Infectious Diseases

Row of people on phones
In some cases, smartphone-based diagnostics can match expensive and bulky lab equipment for speed and accuracy, while remaining portable enough for field settings. Jeong-Yeol Yoon, a biomedical engineer at the University of Arizona in Tucson, coupled a smartphone with some off-the-shelf microscope components and the MATLAB Mobile app to detect norovirus, which causes about 20 million cases of gastrointestinal illness each year in the United States9. “We duplicated the bench-top fluorescence microscope, which can easily be US$50,000, for less than $40,” says Yoon, who is currently setting up clinical trials for both norovirus and COVID-19 versions of the test.