Science & Engineering | News

UCLA Google Glass App Evaluates Medical Tests on the Fly

Researchers at UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed an app for Google Glass and an accompanying server platform that helps health care workers read diagnostic tests.

The technology is designed for use with rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), which involve placing a small sample of blood or other bodily fluid on a test strip and then looking for color changes on the test strip to indicate the presence of diseases such as HIV, malaria or prostate cancer. Usually, health care workers look at color changes in the test strips with the naked eye, but the results are prone to human error. According to information from UCLA, this new technology greatly improves the accuracy of RDT results.

To use the technology, medical workers wear a Google Glass device and use it to capture pictures of the RDTs. The Google Glass app uploads the pictures to the server platform, which returns its analysis in as little as eight seconds. The server platform can evaluate test results coming from multiple devices simultaneously, and users can access a Web portal where they can "view test results, maps charting the geographical spread of various diseases and conditions and the cumulative data from all the tests they have submitted over time," according to information from UCLA.

The researchers tested the system under normal, indoor, fluorescent lights, and the technology read test results accurately 99.6 percent of the time. Even when testing blurry images, the technology had a successful read rate of 96.6 percent. According to information from the university, "the new technology could enhance the tracking of dangerous diseases and improve public health monitoring and rapid responses in disaster-relief areas or quarantine zones where conventional medical tools are not available or feasible."

The researchers published their findings online in the peer-reviewed journal ACS Nano, a publication for nanoscience and nanotechnology research in the areas of chemistry, biology, materials science, physics and engineering.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at

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