Smartphones may be the next-gen blood test laboratory

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology are developing a new blood testing approach that uses a smartphone screen to analyze results in blood treatment scenarios.

Specifically, the testing would be for anticoagulant treatment, which requires frequent blood flow monitoring that typically involves patients using hospital laboratory services on a regular basis.

The new device, being developed by Qloudlab, a startup based in the institute's microengineering laboratory, would eliminate those lab visits as testing could be done at home, or at any location, and promises to speed up diagnostic results as the data could b shared instantly with medical professionals.

"Such a test will significantly improve the quality of life for people undergoing this kind of treatment," said Arthur Queval, Qloudlab founder, in an announcement.

Smartphones are quickly moving from housing healthcare apps for tracking heart rate and fitness activity to next-gen mobile healthcare devices that can monitor a patient's vital signs, serve as an endoscope or optical imaging diagnostic tool and even help to detect lung cancer.

Due to the increasing complex use of such smartphone innovations, they're also facing increased government oversight, as medical equipment is regulated by federal government agencies. Samsung's impending Galaxy S5, which boasts a heart-rate sensor, will undergo regulatory review by South Korean government officials before being released on April 11.

The Qloudlab screen, which researchers hope to ready for production by 2015, uses a small single-use film made of a microstructured plastic layer, a few micrometers in thickness, that acts as an electric field. A blood drop interacts with a molecule in the layer and special software analyzes the disruptions in the electric field for a diagnostic result, according to the announcement.

The test result can be shared real-time via a special app with the patient's doctor who can then adjust the treatment as needed, according to Qloudlab, which has filed a patent on the screen and recently received venture capital funding to hire needed research staff.

For more information:
- read the announcement