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.