UCLA develops Google Glass app for reading diagnostic test strips

By Aditi Pai
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GoogleGlassUCLAResearchers in the Ozcan Research group at UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a Google Glass app that allows users to interpret diagnostic test strips for a variety of diseases and health conditions, such as HIV, malaria, and prostate cancer.

The research was published in ACS Nano, a journal that publishes articles on nanoscience and nanotechnology research.

To use the app, which the team refers to as RDT reader, Google Glass wearers take pictures of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), which are small strips on which blood or other fluid samples are placed and which change color to indicate the presence of various conditions. Users can then upload the picture to a UCLA-designed server platform that is connected to the app. After uploading the picture, the app provides them with analyses of the samples. According to the researchers, Google Glass's camera offers a more detailed report than simply analyzing the samples with the human eye.

Prinicpal investigator Aydogan Ozcan and his team developed a smartphone version of this app in April 2012. The smartphone version has an attached lens for taking pictures.

Ozcan told MobiHealthNews in an email that the Glass' voice activated, handsfree user interface has an advantage over smartphones because Glass is convenient, efficient and can diagnose faster, especially in "clinical and busy settings, dealing with emergent and time demanding situations".

The RDT Reader's server can evaluate test results coming from multiple devices simultaneously and users can view data from the app in a web portal. Besides showing test results, the web portal will also show maps that chart the geographical spread of various diseases and conditions that the Google Glass uploads and the cumulative data from all the tests users have submitted over time.

Because of the charting features, the app may also enhance the monitoring of dangerous diseases and public health epidemics.

Researchers tested the accuracy and efficiency of the app against an in-home HIV test designed by OraSure Technologies and a prostate-specific antigen test developed by JAJ International. After capturing images of tests, they submitted more than 400 images of the two tests, and the RDT reader and server platform were able to successfully read the images and provide accurate test results close to 99.6 percent of the time.

When researchers took close 300 images that were either blurry or taken under various "natural-usage scenarios" the accuracy of the app was 96.6 percent.

Holomic, a company formed in 2011 to commercialize technologies invented in Ozcan's lab, is in the process of commercializing the RDT Reader Google Glass app. The smartphone-based version of the system is for sale from Holomic, but only available for non-clinical research in the United States.

Ozcan suggested some ways to monetize the app include charging the user per image or diagnosis made or charging for the data and server back end.

Holomic, formerly called Microskia, has been working on smartphone-connected diagnostic testing and interpretation since as early as 2009. In one of the first diagnostic testing prototypes, the device detected the contents of a slide with a blood sample on it and sent the information to a hospital for analysis.

In December 2012, Ozcan's lab developed a device that uses the iPhone camera to analyze food samples, searching them for food allergens. The device took around 20 minutes to return a result about whether certain food allergens were in a sample, and how much of the allergen existed. At the time it could identify peanuts, almonds, eggs, gluten and hazelnuts.