Phone Monitor Gives Real-Time Heart Health Updates

The smartCARD uses a camera to analyze fluid samples and gives a comprehensive portrait of your health.

Rachel Pincus
Rachel Pincus on December 17, 2013.

A new smartphone accessory being developed by a professor and two students at Cornell Engineering School could soon make fluctuations in cholesterol and their effects on the human body intelligible to millions of patients. The device, called a smartCARD, clamps on to the edge of a smartphone (the version they’ve demonstrated uses an iPhone). It works by breaking down blood and other fluids with chemical reactions, then illuminating the readable components with a diffuse flash that fires onto the test strip. Using color analysis, the device optically detects biomarkers in a drop of blood, sweat or saliva.

Currently, the device only measures total cholesterol, but researchers are hard at work trying to break out those numbers into LDL (“bad” cholesterol), HDL (“good” cholesterol) and triglyceride measurements. Cornell Associate Professor David Erickson, the senior author of the study on the accessory, noted that the device will be particularly useful for tracking the effects of users’ actions, such as food choices, on their cholesterol level. The lab has also developed devices in the past that measured vitamin D levels and sweat electrolyte levels, and tested for peritonitis. Researchers at Cornell’s Atkinson Center for Sustainable Futures are also working on an application that analyzes micronutrients on a smartphone, allowing phones to track the micronutrient deficiencies of individuals in world populations.

The article, “Cholesterol Testing on a Smartphone,” appeared online Nov. 28 in the journal Lab On A Chip and was also co-authored by Vlad Oncescu and Matthew Mancuso, Cornell graduate students in the field of engineering. We hope to see more from this team; with personal devices like this, perhaps soon heart disease will be as manageable as diabetes.

Erickson Lab

Source: Cornell Chronicle