A newly developed test from the U.K. could quickly diagnose the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, with the help of a smartphone app.
The smart testing device — developed by researchers at Lancaster University, Brunel University in London, and the University of Surrey — could provide results within 30 minutes using a combination of artificial intelligence, image processing, and molecular virology, according to an announcement.
The test could be used by health care workers to test patients, or even allow people to test themselves, researchers said.
The device works like this: Nasal or throat swabs are taken from the patent and inserted into the device, which is synced to a mobile app. Researchers say the app can then control the device, provide telemedicine options, and even track someone’s movement to help contain the spread of the virus.
Researchers are working on ways for the app to alert others if they have come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.
The device would cost about $120 and could be used to test up to six people. The team behind the research said it is talking with backers to “get it urgently mass-produced.”
“The team firmly believes 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,” said Dr. Anil Fernando of the University of Surrey in a statement.
Digital Trends reached out to Lancaster University to find out when researchers expect the test to be available for use and purchase. We will update this story when we hear back.
Testing in the U.S. remains far below levels experts suggest, with advocates like Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates pushing for more testing to identify and contain the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
As of Thursday, more than 463,700 people have been infected, and there have been over 21,100 deaths. The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus a pandemic, with countries around the globe struggling to deal with the impacts of the crisis.
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