This smartphone attachment measures semen quality
MANILA, Philippines – Just how incredible are smartphones? They unlocked modes of communication that were once the stuff of science fiction. They let us capture and share everyday moments with ease, tell us the best routes to navigate through traffic, and are often hard enough to be used effectively as a projectile should the need arise.
Soon, your handy device will even be able to measure the quality of your sperm. Yup, the smartphone may soon become a mobile sperm-testing lab if a device described in the peer-reviewed Science Translational Medicine journal makes it to market.
The device has several components: a box-like device into which you can slide your phone into, a disposable microchip, and an app. The box-like device turns your phone's camera into a microscope that's powerful enough to help you get a closer look at your swimmers. The subject puts his semen and the disposable microchip into a dish, which is then slid into the box-like device. The app then takes a video of the semen, and shows the results after 5 seconds.
Using 350 semen samples, the researchers said the device was able to reach an accuracy of 98% in assessing the quality of the semen. The device analyzed two factors in its assessment – sperm count and sperm motility or the sperm's ability to swim – following standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Hadi Shafiee, a co-author of the study along with several other professors from the Harvard Medical School in Boston, told The Verge that he believes the device will cost $50 and will be available in 2 to 3 years.
Regular lab testing for semen in the US can cost at least 3 times as much, and it can take several days for results to come out. Shafiee's device hopes to make the waiting period shorter, and to let men masturbate in their home as opposed to doing it awkwardly in the clinic.
Offering convenience and relative affordability, Shafiee's device could potentially help the 45 million couples worldwide affected by cases of infertility – 40% of which are caused by the male. – Rappler.com