Smartphone attachments could help save lives

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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LOS ANGELES, Cali - Hannah Gooch is allergic to eggs.

"We did a strict avoidance," said Necia Joy Gooch, Hannah's mom.

Spike Loy has diabetes.

"Since I was seven and a half, I had to take between two and 10 blood tests a day," Loy said.

Both could one day benefit from a medical breakthrough that you carry around every day.

"You can imagine your cell phone working like a very advanced microscope for looking at various different specimen," explained Aydogan Ozcan, PhD, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and BioEngineering, UCLA.

Researchers at UCLA created various attachments that fit on smart phones. One can perform an HIV screening. Another one detects allergens in food. A special tube measures allergens optically with the phone's camera.

"You can do this for peanuts or you can do this for other kinds of allergens," Ozcan said.

Other attachments measure the presence of E. coli in food, blood cell counts, and blood sugar levels. Cell phones are less expensive than a large lab and can be used in the field with immediate results.

"This platform is a very reliable means for looking at micro and nano scale things," Ozcan explained.

So don't be surprised if one day your doctor pulls out his cellphone to diagnose you.

It's not on the market yet, but once it is available researchers believe it will be particularly beneficial to doctors and patients in developing countries who don't have access to advanced laboratories.

Additional Information:

It's estimated over 90 percent of American adults use a cell phone. And cell phones today are growing in complexity and sophistication by the month; one study found 56 percent of Americans have a smart phone. As the cell phones become more complex and farther reaching, as the estimated number of cell phone users worldwide hits 6 billion, the promise of using them for healthcare is growing. There are a variety of health apps for your phone that can help you with everything from managing diabetes to getting motivated to go to the gym. (Source:

IPHONE HOME EAR EXAMINATION: A home ear examination can help parents detect many ear problems; such as ear infections, excessive earwax, or an object in the ear canal. Wilbur Lam, MD, PhD, from Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology created a smartphone-enabled otoscope for remote diagnosis of pediatric ear infections.  The Remotoscope is a clip-on attachment and software app that turns an iPhone into a digital otoscope. (Source:  

NEW TECHNOLOGY: Dr. Aydogan Ozcan, at UCLA has developed a way for your phone to act like a very inexpensive microscope. He developed a device which uses your cell phone's camera to test a variety of different things; including allergens, your urine, and even if you have diabetes. He hopes his device will be able to change healthcare in the United States by making it more efficient, but also worldwide by providing developing countries with an economical way of testing patients. (Source: Dr. Aydogan Ozcan)

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