It sounds futuristic, but holographics may not be far off from being part of a low-cost, effective medical device, specifically for use in diagnostics. The device is currently being tested for use in diabetes monitoring and holds vast potential for use in other applications.
Researchers at Cambridge are studying the potential for these holograms to test bodily fluids for certain compounds?when exposed to a specific compound, the hologram changes color and can then be compared against a color gradient to determine the density of the compound's presence. A laser pulse is directed at a hydrogel that has been implanted with small silver particles. This forms a colorful, 3D shape known as a hologram. This hydrogel then morphs in different shapes in reaction to certain compounds, influencing the displayed color of the hologram.
The device is an example of the increasing trend towards frugal innovation, one of the top trends in medtech this year. Because these sensors could be manufactured at a significantly lower cost than many existing diagnostic solutions, there is potential for the successful use of this technology in emerging markets. Clinical trials of the sensors are currently in progress.
Whilst perhaps not as fancy, another practical, low-cost detector has been developed by Harvard researchers. The relatively simple system can also monitor glucose levels and detect the presence of diseases such as malaria. Electrochemistry forms the basis of the diagnostic capabilities of the system and audible data is used for transferring information, making it a unique and versatile piece of technology.
With the market for in vitro diagnostics set to expand, we'll be keeping an eye out for other creative and practical devices that come to light over the next few years.