A personalized food allergen testing platform on a cellphone.
We demonstrate a personalized food allergen testing platform, termed iTube, running on a cellphone that images and automatically analyses colorimetric assays performed in test tubes toward sensitive and specific detection of allergens in food samples. This cost-effective and compact iTube attachment, weighing approximately 40 grams, is mechanically installed on the existing camera unit of a cellphone, where the test and control tubes are inserted from the side and are vertically illuminated by two separate light-emitting-diodes. The illumination light is absorbed by the allergen assay, which is activated within the tubes, causing an intensity change in the acquired images by the cellphone camera. These transmission images of the sample and control tubes are digitally processed within 1 s using a smart application running on the same cellphone for detection and quantification of allergen contamination in food products. We evaluated the performance of this cellphone-based iTube platform using different types of commercially available cookies, where the existence of peanuts was accurately quantified after a sample preparation and incubation time of ~20 min per test. This automated and cost-effective personalized food allergen testing tool running on cellphones can also permit uploading of test results to secure servers to create personal and/or public spatio-temporal allergen maps, which can be useful for public health in various settings.