Urinalysis: There’s now an app for that

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uChek uses the iPhone’s camera to capture the color changes in commercially available urine dipsticks. Results of the test can be stored, emailed and analyzed over time.

It may not be glamorous, but it’s true – each year, urinary tract infections lead to more than 9 million doctor visits in the United States alone. But the infection can now be tested for through an iPhone app — uChek — developed by TEDFellow Myshkin Ingawale. This app could also be an effective tool for diabetics whose doctors have recommended regular urine analysis, and for the monitoring of bladder, liver and kidney disorders. It could also be a powerful tool for healthcare professionals in the developing world who hope to bring testing to patients wherever they are, instead of the other way around.

Ingawale, who previously created the noninvasive anemia diagnosis tool ToucHb, has just released the app, which was demoed at TED2013. But there have been adjustments made since.

“Early prototypes like the one demoed at TED 2013 were ‘work in process’ and were susceptible to certain ambient light changes and movement errors, and when checked against a conventional laboratory urinalyser it showed lower accuracy,” Ingawale says in a Q&A with the TED Fellows blog. “We made some design changes in the system — most notably, the introduction of our patent-pending ‘cuboid’ — a foldable, reusable stand for the iPhone, which improved the accuracy of the new system, making it comparable with a laboratory urinalyser.”

Ingawale explains that the changes were needed to move uChek from being considered a “wellness tool” to being a “medical device.”

Next up for Ingwale — expanding uChek to Android and other platforms. And, of course, coming up with new ideas for medical apps. “This is our first really big initiative in the world of apps,” he says. “We are looking forward to seeing where this road leads.”