There are no active ads.

This $34 iPhone attachment can test for HIV and syphilis in 15 minutes

by Todd Haselton | February 14, 2015February 14, 2015 3:00 pm EST


Forget UV sensors and heart rate monitors on your gadgets, what about something that can do muchmuch, more? Researchers at Columbia University recently created a device that could cost as low as $34 but can accurately test for syphilis and HIV, providing results to the user within just 15 minutes. Something so simple and private could help save lives.

The attachment, 10 years in the making, is large and far from svelte, but it can easily pop into an iPhone’s headphone jack and analyze a blood sample quickly. A user will have to prick his or her self first, and then insert that blood test into the device, The Washington Post said.

Then, the iPhone’s processor and special software can determine whether or not a user is infected with syphilis or HIV. “The new device essentially replicates the HIV test considered a gold standard for laboratory testing, as well as the same kind of syphilis tests you might get in a standard laboratory,” The Washington Post explained. The device made its debut in a new paper published in Science Translational Medicine.

The health gadget was created by Columbia Univeristy associate professor of biomedical engineering Samuel Sia and his team, and Sia hopes that it might one day be available for consumers to purchase, especially since the whole set-up costs around $34 to build (plus a small fee, under $2, for the tabs to insert into the device for analysis).

“If you can start to bring core health services to the smartphone beyond just measuring the heart rate — like blood tests — then you’re going to start seeing a pretty fundamental shift in the health care system,” he said. There’s currently no time frame for a public launch, but considering Apple, Google, Samsung and other smartphone makers are all competing to build out new health hubs on their devices, it seems plausible we’ll see this sooner than later.

Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...