Researchers at John Hopkins University have developed a device dubbed "mobiLab" that can test for chlamydia at home and send the results to your smartphone. While incredibly limited in its specificity, the idea is actually pretty cool. Imagine having a device in your sex drawer, nestled alongside your toys and barriers, into which you could drop a self-conducted genital swab, plug in your phone, and then wait for the results of your at-home STI test without the emotional psych-up it takes to drag yourself to a reproductive health clinic.
"The prototype, developed by researchers in the Hopkins Department of Biomedical Engineering, is made of a disposable cartridge for a genital swab sample and a heating unit that incubates the DNA to facilitate a reaction. The test results are delivered to and processed by a mobile app on a smartphone connected to the battery-powered device."
So if you're shuddering thinking about the traces of genital swabs lingering on a device in your home, worry not. The swab cartridge is disposable. Here are three other things to know about mobiLab:
1. The Device Is "Slightly Larger Than A Coffee Mug"
And it weighs "two or three iPhones," which is apparently a scientific unit of measurement now.
2. It Can Detect Chlamydia In 30 Minutes
Which is less than the time it takes to drive to Planned Parenthood for an STI screening in some states.
3. It Is Only Available For Vaginas
So here's a major flaw in the design, even as limited to chlamydia: the device is super heteronormative in its assumption of the way you're having sex. The only types of swab samples mobiLab reads is vaginal swabs, and chlamydia doesn't exclusively take up residence in one's vagina. "People don't just have penile/vaginal sex," one doctor told Mic about the device, "[You] need to be able to test urine, throat swab and rectal swab."
4. The Device Costs $200 To Make And $2 To Run
This is in comparison to the $50-$200 cost incurred by clinics per traditional test.
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