Engineers Gennifer Smith and Audrey Bowden, working with a team of Stanford engineers, have devised a way to update what they call the "gold standard" of urinalysis tests. Their research was published in Lab on a Chip earlier this month.
Urinalysis is an important diagnostic tool in detecting anything from infections to certain kinds of cancer.
Originally developed in 1956, the current testing method was used to track blood sugar levels. The proposed device would replace the outdated procedure, which involves matching a dipstick to a colour chart. If you think that sounds like there might be accuracy problems (in colour matching, not... erm... providing a sample), you'd be right.
The new system still uses the same dipstick method, but relies on a machine for the colour-matching part. The team says this removes "the aspects that are traditionally plagued by user error: precise sample delivery, accurate readout timing, and controlled lighting conditions".