This App Turns Your Smartphone Into A Medical Diagnostic Device

Developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge, the Colorimetrix app uses a smartphone’s camera to accurately read colorimetric test strips to monitor medical conditions.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a smartphone app to monitor medical conditions and quickly transmit that data to a laboratory or health professional. Published in the June issue of Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical, the app can accurately read glucose, protein, and pH concentrations, but the researchers say there’s potential to help fight pandemics in developing countries.


The app, called Colorimetrix, essentially transforms any smartphone into a medical diagnostic device to read colorimetric test strips, which are used for medical monitoring, drug tests, and environmental analysis. Analyzing these strips in the field can produce a high level of inaccuracy, commonly resulting in false readings, diagnosis, and treatment, according to the university. To overcome this problem, the app uses smartphone cameras to read the strips accurately with a mathematical algorithm that processes the color information and has results within seconds.

“This app has the potential to help in the fight against HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria in the developing world, bringing the concept of mobile healthcare to reality,” Ali Yetisen, a PhD student who led the research, said in a statement. “By quickly getting medical data from the field to doctors or centralised laboratories, it may help slow or limit the spread of pandemics.”

About the author

Based in San Francisco, Alice Truong is Fast Company's West Coast correspondent. She previously reported in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and most recently Hong Kong, where she (left her heart and) worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.