Home COVID-19 Tests Could Be More Affordable Thanks to Your Smartphone

Deepak Gupta January 30, 2022
Updated 2022/01/30 at 7:38 PM

Since the omicron variant arrived in the US, there has been a shortage of testing in the country. Stuck between long lines at dedicated clinics and overly expensive home tests, many Americans have understandably given up on the idea of ​​getting tested to ensure they are not sick with COVID-19. However, a solution to some of these problems may be on the way.


University of California, Santa Barbara

In a newly published discovered by , researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, have detailed a system that you can start using for about $100 if you already have access to a relatively modern phone. What’s more, they say early results show their process is about as accurate as a PCR test (and thankfully doesn’t involve brain tickling).

In its current iteration, the system involves downloading the app to your phone, as well as using a hot plate and a cardboard box with an LED light. When you need to test yourself, you put a saliva sample into a test kit that costs about $7. You then discard a reactive solution that makes it easier for your phone’s rear camera to detect any viral RNA in the sample. The solution turns bright red as it binds to the viral material in your saliva. The Bacticount app performs a real-time analysis based on how quickly the solution turns red.

As you can imagine, there is still a lot of work to be done before you can start using the SmaRT-LAMP test at home. The initial study is based on a small sample involving 50 symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. Also, the Bacticount app so far is only optimized to work with the Samsung Galaxy S9. Still, the system shows promise. While it was primarily developed to help with testing in places that don’t have access to adequate resources, said Dr. Michael Mann, the project’s principal investigator, Gizmodo that could be adapted for home use. He also said it could be modified to detect new variants of COVID-19 and other pathogens like the flu.

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