Researchers Developing Device That Could Detect COVID-19 Using Your Smartphone

SALT LAKE CITY (CBS Local) — Researchers in Utah say they are developing a new way to detect COVID-19 with your smartphone.

What started as a device to help detect a Zika virus could become be programmed to identify COVID-19 instead, say researchers in Utah.

“Our prototype is going to be on the order of the size of a quarter, and it would be communicating with a cellphone using the Bluetooth link,” Massood Tabib-Azar, a University of Utah professor and the lead engineer on the project, told KSTU.

The device would be able to test for COVID-19 if someone were to breathe, cough, sneeze or blow on a sensor. The results would then be displayed on a cell phone within 60 seconds.

It could also test for the virus on surfaces by using a swab and placing it onto the sensor.

The sensor will be reusable because it would destroy the previous sample with a small electrical current.

Tabib-Azar says he wants to make it possible to send the results to health agencies, too.

“You’d push the button and it can send to a central location, Centers for Disease Control or any other authority that you’d select in your options, and then in real time can update the map,” he said.

Tabib-Azar says he hopes to have a working prototype in two months. Clinical trials would take another month.

“In principle, we can put these devices in everybody’s hand, and once we produce them in large scale inexpensively, then it’s like any other thing that people want to have with them,” he said.