Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tricorder gets a step closer with the iTube food allergy tester

The Star Trek Tricorder inches closer to reality. Lab on a Chip journal recently published an article, A personalized food allergen testing platform on a cellphone, dubbed the iTube (Are you getting to hate these meaningless 'i's as I am?).

Abstract: We demonstrate a personalized food allergen testing platform, termed iTube, running on a cellphone that images and automatically analyses colorimetric assays performed in test tubes toward sensitive and specific detection of allergens in food samples. This cost-effective and compact iTube attachment, weighing approximately 40 grams, is mechanically installed on the existing camera unit of a cellphone where the test and control tubes are inserted from the side and are vertically illuminated by two separate light-emitting-diodes. The illumination light is then absorbed by the allergen assay that is activated within the tubes, causing an intensity change in the acquired images by the cellphone camera. These transmission images of the sample and control tubes are digitally processed within 1 sec using a smart application running on the same cellphone for detection and quantification of allergen contamination in food products. We evaluated the performance of this cellphone based iTube platform using different types of commercially available cookies, where the existence of peanuts was accurately quantified. This automated and cost-effective personalized food allergen testing tool running on cellphones can also permit uploading of test results to secure servers to create personal and/or public spatio-temporal allergen maps, which can especially be useful for public health in various settings.
Other details may be found at: Got food allergies? Thanks to UCLA, you can test your meal on the spot using a cell phone and the Lab on a Chip blog. The Tricorder gave immediate results, with the iTube we must wait twenty minutes. Yes there is an App. for that...