The U.S. Army’s newly developed biological self-test kit can quickly identify the presence of a pathogen of concern such as ricin, anthrax, or plague, and automatically send the result to a soldier and his commander. Known as SmartCAR, the device uses a colorimetric assay, much like a home pregnancy test strip.

The warfighter or a field medic can take a saliva or stool sample, place it in a small vial containing a reagent that will bind the pathogen of concern, then place a drop of the solution on the strip. The strip is placed inside the handheld SmartCAR, which then reads whether there is one line on the strip, meaning no exposure, or two lines on the strip -- bad news. The SmartCAR then transmits the results over Nett Warrior, a fielded integrated dismounted situational awareness system that displays tactical data on a smartphone.

SmartCAR has important civilian applications. A test strip that identifies the presence of Ebola could be used by medical personnel sent to control an outbreak. Its data management and distribution capabilities make it ideal for humanitarian relief mission personnel to establish restricted areas and determine resource needs.