The coronavirus outbreak may help accelerate the evolution of rapid disease testing using smartphones. According to the website The Conversation, studies are already being done to use mobile devices to assist in the detection of covid-19.

According to the website, which brings together publications by scientists and journalists, a study aimed at creating a coronavirus detection system integrated with the smartphone has been under development since March. Research published in the specialized magazine Lab on a Chip aims to develop a technology that uses nasal fluids to detect the virus in about 30 minutes. The solution, however, is still in the early stages of research.

The European project FoodSmartPhone, which develops technologies for smartphones to detect irregularities in food, is also already looking for solutions that can help in the fight against the coronavirus. As with food, disease tests use special labels that scan the sample and generate reactions when finding a certain virus or bacterium, which can be mapped by the smartphone.

“To test something, like throat fluid or blood, just add the sensitive label to what you’re looking for,” explain the experts. “If the substance sought is there, there will be a reaction, which generates a light, color or electrical signal, which the cell detects and interprets through a camera or sensors, or via a complementary device.”

Deployment can take time

While the use of smartphones may facilitate the detection of coronavirus in the future, the implementation of the technology may still take time. The use of mobile devices for disease testing is nothing new and the technology has even been applied to other diseases, but massive use has not yet been approved.

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According to experts at The Conversation, a device called mChip has been in development since 2015 and aims to detect diseases like HIV and syphilis using the cell phone. Despite having promising results, the technology is still undergoing approvals and will undergo more phases of testing over the next few months.

Even so, experts point out that the “immense pressure” to keep the pandemic in check can help in the development of new solutions to detect covid-19 and help fight the disease.


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