With the color comparisons as a guide, the Uchek app analyzes the results, and 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 will be useful for people managing diabetes, and kidney, bladder and liver problems.
The app presents results in everyday language, with descriptors like “trace” or “large.” If you don’t know that the presence of leukocytes could indicate a urinary tract infection, you simply tap on the leukocytes tab for more information. “The idea is to get people closer to their own information,” Ingawale says. “I want people to better understand what is going on with their bodies.”
While it’s being tested in a Mumbai hospital, the app is moving through the Apple approval process. Ingawale is optimistic it will be made available to iOS users soon. An Android version is also in the works, though the wide array of camera hardware on Android devices will slow development.
After testing the app with 1,200 samples it did a better job than humans simply reading the color-coded strips. More sophisticated machines may do a better job, but they also cost $1,000 to $10,000 and only read a specific type of test strip. “The medical device industry operates on proprietary, closed hardware and a recurring revenue business model,” Ingawale told the TED 2013 audience. “I am trying to democratize healthcare.”
For $20, you can get a packet of strips and the color-coded map to conduct your own tests on the 99-cent app. Ingawale stresses the app isn't meant to take the place of a doctor's diagnosis, but make users more aware of health issues.