Researchers need backers to mass produce smartphone-based Covid-19 test

March 30, 2020 //By Julien Happich
Researchers need backers to mass produce smartphone-based Covid-19 test
A team of scientists from the University of Surrey, Lancaster University and Brunel University are developing an easy-to-use test that can inform people if they have Covid-19 in just half an hour.

The proposed molecular test and smartphone app would let people who are self-isolating test themselves, and allow health care workers test both patients and themselves for Covid-19. The battery-operated and hand-held smartphone-linked device is highly cost effective (£100/device) and easy to use. Developed in collaboration with Surrey’s Centre for Vision Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP) and Lancaster, it works by taking nasal or throat swabs, which are put into the device.

Then in 30 minutes, it can determine if someone has Covid-19. The samples don’t need to go to a laboratory and the same device can test six people at once at a cost of around £4 per person.

The science behind the test has been used and evaluated in the Philippines to check chickens for viral and bacterial infections. The UK-based team is adapting the Philippines method to detect Covid-19 in humans and is calling on backers to help them mass-produce the kits. The team is also working on adding a telemedicine functionality to the mobile app that can control the device, track the users’ movements and contact anyone who has had a close interaction with the person diagnosed to suggest steps to take in order to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection and spread.

“The team firmly believe that both identifying Covid-19 infection and minimizing the spread of infection are important. Once infection is identified using this device, the app will automatically update the database and the intelligent system will track down all individuals who have been in close contact with the newly identified patient, alert them about the threat of having Covid-19 and make recommendations regard further steps”, explained Dr Anil Fernando, Reader in Video Communications at CVSSP.


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