At a recent TED talk, inventor Myshkin Ingawale--who's best known for developing a needle-free test for hemoglobin--got some laughs when he unveiled his latest project. It's revolutionary, he said, and will one day put your future "in the toilet."
Let me explain: Ingawale and a small team have developed uChek, a smartphone app that analyzes your urine. If it gets through the app store's screening process, it'll be the first app that can visually analyze any urine sample with any type of urine test.
A lot of people living with chronic diseases, like diabetes, rely on urine analyses to easily check for chemical changes. The dipstick is the standardized way to test urine: you pee into a cup, then dip the stick into the cup. Boxes on the stick change color based on what's in the urine. A certain box changes shade for an excess of proteins, another changes for the number of leukocytes. Problem is, there's no standard dipstick: different dipsticks change different colors. And they're not always easy to read with the naked eye.
uChek creates a cheap, universal way to read urine tests by standardizing those color indicators. How? Creators upload color "keys" saying blue means this, orange means that, and so on.
With the colors standardized, you can test your urine using any generic urine test. First you place your dipstick in a color-correction sleeve--sort of a little rainbow palette that makes sure your phone's camera is properly adjusted to the room's light--then you snap a photo of the stick. The app analyzes the colors, then spits out statistics on your urine. More importantly, it spits out understandable statistics: you can click on a specific stat to determine what it means. Do you have leukocytes? Tap to learn that's potentially caused by a urinary tract infection.
At the talk, Ingawale explained how the technology could eventually be added to bathrooms, giving you a free urine test whenever you, uh, go.
Great! As long as it's discreet about the photography.
Um... hold on a second here... is this article basically telling me that this app doesn't actually analyze the urine (as stated in the headline and closing) but rather reads the colored dipsticks that actually do the test and provide the data?
So... what's the big deal? Can't a person just look at the color patterns on the box and figure it out. Do we really need an app for that? And I don't see how this somehow gives us a free urine test in the future.
Now if this app could actually test the urine (obviously with a piece of hardware added on), then we'd have something to talk about. But here...
Yes, you are correct; each human has a computer between their ears.
I adore the picture that goes along with the caption of this article, very cute!