Sam Sia and colleagues at Columbia University in New York coupled microfluidics with consumer electronics to create a smartphone app that simultaneously detects HIV and syphilis. The dongle, attaches to a smartphone by the headphone jack to perform a triplexed miniature immunoassay: HIV antibody, treponemal-specific antibody for syphilis and nontreponemal antibody for active syphilis infection. The test requires a single prick of blood and uses less than 4% of the smartphone battery. Healthcare workers in Rwanda tested 96 women at a clinic for preventing mother-child transmission. Using the app, workers obtained results in 15 minutes, with 92–100% sensitivity and 79–100% specificity. It costs $34 to manufacture the dongle, and $1.44 to run the test.

Credit: Tassaneewan Laksanasopin/Columbia University