Smartphone as a bioanalytical device for food analysis: why and how

Hi all,

In the past two years, my friends and I worked passionately on developing our FoodSmartphone biosensors. We all had different target contaminants (mycotoxins, pesticides, marine toxins, and so on) and different biosensing strategies either optical by measuring the light change, electrochemical by measuring the current change, or colorimetric by measuring the color change. However, we all had one goal: to make a faster, simpler, more specific and efficient biosensor for our target analyte. Now, it is time for us to integrate our biosensors into a final smartphone food analyzers. In this blog, I am going to write why smartphones are the ideal choice for our novel food analyzer and how we are integrating our biosensors into a smartphone-based bioanalytical device capable of on-site food safety analysis.

 

Image result for FoodSmartphone

We are living in an exciting era, in a time of smart/intelligent things from the basic smartphone to the newest concepts of smart homes, toilets, kitchen, and clothes. These new technologies can change the way we live on a daily basis. The goal is for technology to become faster, simpler and more available to the public, promoting citizen science. Smartphones are a very good example of such a change. They become widely accessible in no time. Nowadays, almost everyone has a smartphone even in rural and remote areas. They drastically changed the way we communicate, think and live. Our modern lifestyle is so dependent on using smartphones that life without them is unimaginable to the extent that we can never put down our phones.

Today’s smartphones are becoming more and more powerful, some might even say they are going to replace PCs in the near future. They are becoming smaller, faster and more efficient every day. They have replaced so many things from calculators and phone books to alarm clock and camera. Moreover, they already have many embedded micro-sensors such as accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS, barometer, and ambient light to name but a few.  All these features including the computing power, embedded electronic parts, light source, camera, and sensory capabilities make smartphones the ideal choice for our on-site food analyzer. Our smartphones-based food analyzer will make food testing simple, faster, more efficient, and more accessible.

Now, the question of how the integration of our state of art biosensors with the smartphone is done remains. For different biosensing strategies, we need to use different integration pathways. The optical biosensors and colorimetric biosensors are going to use the smartphone light source and camera as a detector. The camera will take a picture or record a movie. Then, the app on the smartphone will analyze the image and show the results. For this, my fellow ESRs worked on developing special accessories to be coupled with the smartphone. In the case of electrochemical biosensors, the smartphone is an interface and can be connected to a miniaturized electrochemical device by USB or Bluetooth. The App on smartphone record and analyze the data, then show the result in a user-friendly format. An example is the traffic light format with red as alert and green indicating the safe sample. All this effort will result in our final prototype of the FoodSmartphone device. But till then, we will have the exciting opportunity to demonstrate our FoodSmartphone biosensors at RAFA (Recent Advances in Food Analysis) ( www.rafa2019.eu) ‘RAFA Smart lab’ on November 6-7 in Prague. Till my next blog,

Chao,

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