Science has proved yet again that nothing is impossible when it comes to smartphones.
Researchers from the University of Hanover, Germany have just developed a fibre optic sensor that could test for a variety of life changing situations such as having diabetes or being pregnant.
According to a paper published in the Optics Express, the sensor will be able to monitor a variety of fluids including blood, urine, saliva, sweat or breath.
The device will also be able to guide users to their nearest hospital or pharmacy by combining the readings with the GPS signal on their smartphones. How convenient.
Underlying this invention is a phenomenon called surface plasmon resonance -- which essentially describes how light interacts with the electrons when it hits a thin metallic film.
The key part of this test is the fluid. When fluid is placed in contact with the metallic film, it changes how light is refracted and based on what light is absorbed and reflected, the sensor is able to deduce the composition of the fluid.
It is a similar principle to how regular store bought pregnancy tests work -- by detecting if the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin is present in the urine.
Kort Bremer, inventor and co-author of the paper said: "We have the potential to develop small and robust lab-on-a-chip devices for smartphones. So, surface plasmon resonance sensors could become ubiquitous now."
Surface plasmon resonance usually requires bulky lab equipment including a light detector and light source. However, since smartphones have both of these, the researchers say the sensors will be relatively 'minimalist.'
One important point the researchers fail to mention is whether or not the sensors will be a practical replacement for pregnancy tests -- peeing on your smartphone doesn't sound ideal.