Cradle of Optical Components Turns Smartphone into Biosensor

A University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign research team, led by professor of electrical and computer engineering Brian T. Cunningham, has developed a cradle and app for the iPhone that uses the phone's built-in camera and processing power as a biosensor to detect toxins, proteins, bacteria, and more. Applications include on-the-spot tracking of groundwater contamination and providing immediate medical diagnostic tests in field clinics. The wedge-shaped cradle contains lenses and filters and holds the phone's camera in alignment with them. Although the cradle holds only about $200 of optical components, it performs as accurately as a large $50,000 spectrophotometer in the lab.