SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) — University of Utah electrical and computer engineering professor Massood Tabib-Azar received a $200,000 National Science Foundation Rapid Response grant to construct a portable, reusable coronavirus sensor, according to Vince Horiuchi, Public Relations Associate, College of Engineering.
The quarter-sized sensor can detect the virus in as little as 60 seconds and works with a cell phone.
“It can be made to be a standalone device, but it can also be connected to a cellphone,” says Tabib-Azar. “Once you have it connected either wirelessly or directly, you can use the cellphone software and processor to give a warning if you have the virus.”
Due to a lack of testing supplies in the United States, officials have not been able to perform as many tests as are needed to effectively understand and contain the virus, according to the release.
The standard test involves a 6-inch swab inserted through the nose to the back of the cavity for about 15 seconds to get a lab sample. It takes about four to seven days to receive the test’s results.
Tabib-Azar’s test involves using a drop of saliva that can produce results in a minute. It is based on his research for a sensor for the Zika virus he worked on about a year ago.
The sensor could be plugged into a cellphone’s power jack. The user would then download an app which would reveal the test’s result. According to the release, Tabib-Azar expects to have a prototype available for clinical trials in two to three months.
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