Smartphone App Tests User’s Urine For Disease, Brings Healthcare To The People

Need a urinalysis? There’s an app for that. A new app revealed at this year’s Technology, Education and Design conference in Los Angeles uses a phone’s camera to scan urine for a variety of medical conditions.

The Uchek tests for 25 different health issues, and is not the first app of it’s kind. According to developers, the app’s purpose is to put healthcare in the hands of the people. Mobile healthcare has recently been lauded as an affordable and accessible means to diagnose and treat disease for those with little access to health care professionals.

The app is the brainchild of TED fellow Myshkin Ingawale.

“I wanted to get medical health checks into users’ hands,” he told the BBC. “There needs to be a rethink in the way healthcare is delivered to people,” the developer added.

The app will reportedly be used in the King Edward Memorial hospital in Mumbai, India, alongside urinalysis machines. The app’s accuracy will be tested against more expensive medical equipment.

“If it does well we can make it available to mobile clinics,” Ingawake predicts. “Instead of buying a $10,000 machine they can use their existing smartphones.”

The app uses the phone’s camera to take a picture of a urine strip, then analyzes the sample. Urine can then be tested for conditions such as diabetes, urinary tract infections, cancers, liver problems, and other general health issues.

User’s are instructed to collect urine and dip a standard test strip into it. The strip is then placed on a mat. The mat — supplied with the app — is made to normalize colors on the stick regardless of lighting conditions.

The app analyzes the photo, and gives a diagnosis. The app could also be used by the thousands of people who access apps even before getting out of bed each day. A Uchek first thing in the morning could reveal anything from infection to low blood sugar.

The app will be available from Apple’s app store at the end of March. It is priced at $20 and includes the photo mat and five test strips. The app is currently only for iPhones, but an Android version is reportedly coming soon.

“There is huge potential to get the world of bio-chemistry out to users via apps,” said Ingawale of the growing market for health apps. At last year’s TED, Ingawale revealed an app that could test a person’s blood without drawing a sample. It was designed to prevent women from dying form undiagnosed anemia. The app could be used by untrained volunteer healthcare workers in the field.

Apps have been widely used for anything from finding the cheapest groceries to tracking down trick-or-treating kids. Why not let them manage health, too?

What do you think about diagnosing disease based on a app?