The gadget eliminates the need for clumsy, complicated, home cholesterol-testing devices.
Cornell University engineers claim the Smartphone Cholesterol Application for Rapid Diagnostics, or "smartCARD," could save lives - by reading out cholesterol level in about a minute.
"Smartphones have the potential to address health issues by eliminating the need for specialised equipment," said David Erickson, associate professor of mechanical engineering and senior author of the study.
Thanks to advanced, sophisticated camera technology, Erickson and his colleagues created the smartphone accessory that optically detects bio-markers in a drop of blood, sweat or saliva.
A newly developed application then discerns the results using colour analysis, they said. When a user puts a drop of blood on the cholesterol test strip, it processes the blood through separation steps and chemical reactions.
The strip is then ready for colorimetric analysis by the smartphone application.
The smartCARD accessory which looks somewhat like a smartphone credit card reader clamps over the phone's camera.
Its built-in flash provides uniform, diffused light to illuminate the test strip that fits into the smart CARD reader. The application in the phone calibrates the hue saturation to the image's colour values on the cholesterol test strip, and the results appear on your phone.
Currently, the test measures total cholesterol. The Erickson lab is working to break out those numbers in LDL ("bad" cholesterol), HDL ("good" cholesterol) and triglyceride measurements.
The lab is also working on detecting vitamin D levels, and has previously demonstrated smartphone tests for periodontitis and sweat electrolyte levels.
The study was published in the journal Lab on a Chip.