Smartphone measures cholesterol

1 min read

Cornell University engineers have created the Smartphone Cholesterol Application for Rapid Diagnostics - smartCARD - which employs a smartphone’s camera to read cholesterol levels.

‘Smartphones have the potential to address health issues by eliminating the need for specialised equipment,’ said David Erickson, Cornell associate professor of mechanical engineering and senior author on a new peer-reviewed study.

Advanced camera technology has allowed Erickson and his colleagues to create a smartphone accessory that optically detects biomarkers in a drop of blood, sweat or saliva. The new application then discerns the results using colour analysis.

When a user puts a drop of blood on the cholesterol test strip, it processes the blood through separation steps and chemical reactions. The strip is then ready for colorimetric analysis by the smartphone application.

The smartCARD accessory clamps over the phone’s camera. Its built-in flash provides uniform, diffused light to illuminate the test strip that fits into the smartCARD reader. The application in the phone calibrates the hue saturation to the image’s colour values on the cholesterol test strip, and the results appear on the user’s phone.

Currently, the test measures total cholesterol. The Erickson lab is working to read results according to LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol), HDL (‘good’ cholesterol) and triglyceride measurements. The lab is also working on detecting vitamin D levels, and has previously demonstrated smartphone tests for periodontitis and sweat electrolyte levels.

Erickson said in a statement that smartCARD is ready to be brought to market and it will have more advanced capabilities in less that a year.

‘Cholesterol Testing on a Smartphone,’ appeared online in the journal Lab on a Chip, and was co-authored by Vlad Oncescu and Matthew Mancuso, Cornell graduate students in the field of engineering.

The study was funded by the US National Science Foundation, the Engineering Research Council of Canada and Cornell’s David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.