Tech News: GE is working to put sensors in phones to detect COVID-19 virus.
Our phones have played an important role in the fight against COVID-19 through test and detection systems that have helped contain the virus in places like South Korea and Taiwan. Now, scientists are once again using smartphones to identify coronavirus particles on surfaces as an additional line of defense against the pandemic, as well as more robust treatments such as vaccines and antivirals. General Electric researchers received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop tiny sensors that can be incorporated into cell phones to detect the presence of COVID-19 nanoparticles.
The team behind the miniaturized technology says it has the same sensing capabilities as much larger analytical instruments typically found in a lab. After a decade of experimentation, they claim they can refine the tiny widget to isolate virus particles without interference from other elements.
“Our sensors are like hounds,” says Radislav Potyrailo, chief scientist at GE Research. “We train them to detect a specific thing and they are able to do it well without being thrown off the track by anything else.”
With the help of the grant, the team will now spend the next two years working on perfecting their handy sensor, hoping to put it into devices. from phones to smartwatches to wall-mounted gadgets – in the future. Although there is no guarantee that the technology will actually be integrated into the iPhone and in Android devices, it’s easy to imagine how it could be used as an additional layer of protection against harmful viruses. The hope is that one day we will all be able to pull out our phones to look for COVID-19 or flu particles in airports, shops, ATMs and at home.