If researchers have their way, your smartphone could one day eliminate the time spent in doctors waiting rooms, and perhaps even tell you whether you have cancer.
A team of scientists at Korea Advanced Institute of Science of Technology (KAIST) write in a paper published in the German journal Angewandte Chemie, that touch screen technology can be used to detect biomolecular matter, much as is done in medical tests.
"It began from the idea that touch screens work by recognising the electronic signs from the touch of the finger, and so the presence of specific proteins and DNA should be recognizable as well," says Hyun-gyu Park, who with Byong-yeon Won led the study.
The touch screens on smartphones, PDAs or other electronic devices work by sensing the electronic charges from the user's body on the screen. Biochemicals such as proteins and DNA molecules also carry specific electronic charges.
According to KAIST, the team's experiments showed that touch screens can recognise the existence and the concentration of DNA molecules placed on them, a first step towards one day being able to use the screens to carry out medical tests.
"We have confirmed that (touch screens) are able to recognise DNA molecules with nearly 100 per cent accuracy just as large, conventional medical equipment can and we believe equal results are possible for proteins," says Park.