This Smartphone Spoilage Sensor Knows if Your Meal Is Tainted

By Andrew Tarantola on at

That burger you just ate may not have smelled suspect but if it harboured E. coli you could be in for a few days of food poisoning. A new phone-based imaging device could one day spot the gut-busting bugs before they make you sick.

The device, developed by researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, uses fluorescent imaging to detect for E. coli in both food and water. Researchers paired quantum dots with tiny glass capillaries containing E. coli antibodies. If the bacteria is present in a liquid sample, the quantum dots will emit light that will be detected by the phone's camera — the more light emitted, the greater the E. coli concentration.

The device is still in early development so there's no word on if or when it will reach market but, given the regularity with which  E. coli infections occur (even in developed countries), a low-cost scanning system could help keep future breakouts in check. [UCLA via PopSci]