Nov. 9, 2010 at 11:53 AM ET
Got a funny feeling in your nether-region but too embarrassed to ask your doctor what it might be? If a group of British researchers have their way, your mobile phone will soon be able to tell you if you've got an STD.
According to a report in The Guardian, British researchers are working on a kit for phones and personal computers that will be able to diagnose sexually transmitted diseases.
The device will be small and similar to pregnancy testing kits. According to The Guardian, it will work like this:
People who suspect they have been infected will be able to put urine or saliva on to a computer chip about the size of a USB chip, plug it into their phone or computer and receive a diagnosis within minutes, telling them which, if any, sexually transmitted infection (STI) they have.
It will be able to diagnose a range of infections, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea.
British health experts hope the testing kit will help slow the rising rate of infection, which is highest among the nation's young and tech-savvy people
"Britain is one of the worst [countries] in western Europe for teenage pregnancy and STIs. That there's a major embarrassment factor here, especially among young people, makes the situation worse," said Dr. Tariq Sadiq, a senior lecturer and consultant physician in sexual health at the University of London and the person leading the project.
With this new device, "your mobile phone can be your mobile doctor," Sadiq told The Guardian.
The project has significant financial backing. Seven funders have put the equivalent of more than $6 million into developing the technology, according to The Guardian.
"The required technology is very close to becoming a reality," Sadiq told the Daily Mail. But first, he said, they are working to address issues of confidentiality and data protection.
The researchers expect these devices to be sold for as little £1 each (about $1.60) in nightclub vending machines, pharmacies and in supermarkets.