Smartphone detects food allergens

Posted on 27/12/2012 by Nick van Lanen

A smartphone that can be transformed into a lab with the ability to detect food allergens is the latest in add-on technology from inventor Aydogan Ozcan, an engineering professor at the university of California, Los Angeles. He and his researchers are creating prototypes of these devices that turn the phones into precise lab instruments.

The iTube, Ozcan and his colleagues’ new device, converts smartphones into colorimeters that are able to detect minute amounts of allergens, such as peanuts, in food. It’s designed for use at home or in public, such as at a restaurant, said Ozcan, an engineering professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“People will be able to quantify the amount of allergen and have the abbility to upload their results to their personal site or a public server” Ozcan said.

The device requires a little work that may put off casual users. Users have to grind up the food they want to test, put it in a test tube and mix in chemicals, following instructions on the iTube app. The test tube then goes into a slot in the iTube attachment. The iTube uses its own LED lights and the smartphone’s camera to analyze the food-chemical mix. The whole process takes about 20 minutes.