George M. Whitesides of Harvard University and coworkers have invented uMed, an electrochemical detector that uses the voice channel of a cell phone on any cellular network to transmit data for remote analysis. It costs about $25, so it could bring water quality testing to people that cannot afford expensive electrochemical instruments. It even uses the cell phone’s vibrate setting to mix samples. The device uses test strips or electrodes with a potentiostat to perform chronoamperometry, cyclic voltammetry, differential pulsed voltammetry, square wave voltammetry, or potentiometry. This can be used to detect trace amounts of toxic metals in drinking water, measure glucose in blood, monitor sodium in urine, and perform an electrochemical enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for malaria antigen. For such a simple, inexpensive device, it really packs an analytical punch. The article mentioned that further work would involve using the device to gather data in the field and get some feedback by users. Maybe Chemists Without Borders could volunteer to gather some data & provide feedback in exchange for the use of the devices. Seems like a win-win to me.
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