iSperm lets your iPad analyze your swimmers at home

The iSperm device has already been used to spy on the sperm of scores of boars. Soon, it could be used in the same way for men.

Michael Franco
Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for CNET and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.
Michael Franco
2 min read

Enlarge Image
Now used for livestock, the high-magnification iSperm microscope might be available for men as soon as next year. Aidmics

The iPad can be used to show home movies -- including films of babies as they come home from the hospital, take their first steps, and later, lock themselves in their rooms with loud music and their cell phones. Soon, iPads might be able to show a home movie of what a baby looked like before it was even created, by beaming live-action movies of your sperm swimming around.

That will be the case if Taiwanese startup Aidmics has its way.

The company has already invented a device called iSperm which according to Reuters has been sold to almost 200 farmers around the world. They use it to analyze the sperm counts of their boar to maximize the success of breeding programs. The news agency reports that Aidmics has announced plans to seek approval from the US Food and Drug Administration next year to expand the device's use to men.

Like some other microscopes that attach to tablets and phones, iSperm acts by magnifying what's put into its tube -- in this case semen. The tip of the tube is dipped into the sample, then capped. A light source illuminates the sample, a microscope enlarges it, and the results are captured by the iPad camera (iSperm works only with iPad Minis).

A customized app contains a logarithm that analyzes the sperm count and motility (how well the swimmers move). It's also possible to record HD movies of the sperm that ostensibly could be sent to a fertility specialist for analysis. The entire process takes 17 seconds (7 seconds for video capture and 10 for analysis), which -- along with the video feature -- sets iSperm apart from other at-home sperm-measuring kits available at drugstores.

"Morphological assessment of sperm head and tail has never been this easy," says the iSperm website.

The device, which will cost between $100 (about £64, AU$136) and $200, would be a useful first step for couples seeking to have a baby, an issue for one in six who try, founder Agean Lin told Reuters. Instant, at-home sperm analysis could quickly rule out or confirm issues with sperm that could be standing in the way of a couple conceiving.

Plus, just imagine how fun it would be to show your 17-year-old his or her very first home movie when a date comes over to meet the family.