In the age of self-quantifying, the human body becomes a carefully managed science project whose inputs are measured, documented, and controlled. Analyzing the outputs, however, is more complicated (and can be a less pleasant endeavor). Even something as common and routine as a urine test requires an (expensive) visit to the doctor’s office as a first step for detecting various ailments.
An app revealed on stage at the TED conference in Long Beach yesterday would put urine exams in the hands of any iPhone user as part of an easy to use $21 kit. The first step would be the same as at any doctor’s office: grab a cup and pee in it. But then, instead of handing it over to a nurse, users of the uChek app would insert a test strip into the urine, wait for it to change color, and take pictures of it with their phone’s camera as prompted by the app, which then analyzes the color of the stick to offer results.
According to Wired’s Michael V. Copeland, who was on hand to watch the unveiling, uChek "comes back in seconds with a breakdown of the levels of glucose, bilirubin, proteins, specific gravity, ketones, leukocytes, nitrites, urobilinogen, and hematuria present in the urine. The parameters the app measures are especially helpful for those people managing diabetes, and kidney, bladder and liver problems, or ferreting out the presence of a urinary tract infection." The app doesn’t just present the results as scientific data, but lets you know which problems, if any, they might indicate.
Creator Myshkin Ingawale told the TED crowd that he views the app as part of a process to "democratize health care," by giving patients inexpensive access to information about their health. A hospital in Ingawale’s hometown of Mumbai is currently piloting the technology, but it should be available to the public soon via the App Store.