Email Print Share

"Cholester-App" -- The Discovery Files

The Discovery Files
Audio Play Audio
The Discovery Files podcast is available through iTunes or you can add the RSS feed to your podcast receiver. You can also access the series via AudioNow® by calling 641-552-8180 on any telephone.

Engineers at Cornell University have invented a smartphone device that uses the camera inside an iPhone to read your cholesterol level in about a minute.

Credit: NSF/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

Screen test

I'm Bob Karson with the discovery files--new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.

If you're one of the one in six Americans with high cholesterol, there may be an easier way to test.

(Audio) "... the problem is that right now most people have a difficult time being able to tell, either, a. What their cholesterol levels are... or, if what they're doing actually makes a difference."

David Erickson, Cornell University mechanical engineering professor, whose team has developed the smartcard device, "smartphone cholesterol application for rapid diagnostics." Yep, testing for cholesterol there's an app for that. It looks like a credit card reader that attaches over your phones camera.

(Audio) "the system comprises of an accessory that fits over a smartphone just like this, put a small drop of blood in the test strip, fit it into the back, open up the app, press a button, and it tells you what your cholesterol levels are."

The entire process takes about a minute, and works by doing colorimetric analysis of the strip through the camera. The system can detect biomarkers in blood, sweat or saliva. Right now it only shows total cholesterol levels the Cornell team is working to get it to measure HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, and triglycerides.

It's too bad they didn't make one of those mobile phone games out of it--"cholesterol crush saga," "clash of cholesterol"--maybe not.

"The discovery files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research--brought to you, by you! Learn more at or on our podcast.

General Restrictions:
Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only.

Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation. Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.

MP3 icon
NSF podcasts are in mp3 format for easy download to desktop and laptops, as well as mobile devices capable of playing them.