By Adam Dickter / Mobile Tech Today. Updated February 27, 2013.
Are you a hypochondriac? If so, there's an app for that.
Just when you think you've seen every conceivable program for your iPhone, here comes uChek, which allows you to test your own urine for signs of health problems in case you can't get to a doctor quick enough (or want to save on co-payments).
No, you do not have to dip your iPhone in the stuff. uChek works with a mat and dipsticks that will be mailed to you once you download the app from the iTunes App Store (although it is not yet available). Once your dipstick (five are included in the kit, which test for different conditions) has been immersed it will change color, and that's where the app comes in. After you place the sample and mat on the screen, it takes multiple photos and then plays lab technician, displaying the results.
The app was unveiled Monday at the Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) 2013 Conference in Long Beach, Calif., by Myshkin Ingawale of Biosense Technologies Pvt. Ltd., who said the app will be available beginning March 26 for 99 cents in the App Store, with another $20 cost for the home kit, according to published reports. The mat helps the colors on the stick display better for the camera (and also keeps your touchscreen urine-free.)
An Android version is also in the works.
uChek should not be confused with three similarly spelled u-Check apps already available in the App Store which are education-related.
On uChek's Web site, the company claims it is not only cheaper than a lab test but more accurate, since humans must make multiple observations of the specimen at intervals.
"uChek reduces this human intervention and is hence, much easier to use," says the company. "In addition, it can interpret results and identify the existing medical conditions. It can also store previous results, thus making it easy to monitor trends. And yes, while it cannot replace your physician, it can reduce your number of visits!"
uChek claims that it can detect 8 to 10 parameters of abnormalities and detect as many as 25 diseases by checking levels of glucose, proteins, ketones, and more, which could show signs of diabetes, urinary tract infection and pre-eclampsia, among other ailments. In case you were wondering, the Web site does not claim that uChek can detect pregnancy.
Mumbai, India-based Biosense's previous product is the ToucHb, a scanner that is supposed to detect anemia.
Don't Cancel Your Physical
Health-related apps are commonplace. While most assess your health through questions, others are beginning to interact with our bodies.
"There's been an explosion of health-related fitness apps and devices," says technology analyst Michael Gartenberg of Gartner Research.
He cautioned that while quick-check devices may gain approval for doctors for many diagnostic procedures, "the home versions are likely to become the target of controversy."
"There are already apps that claim to measure pulse, blood pressure, etc, some with add-ons. I'm pretty sure all of them say it's for informational use, not to replace a doctor's care," Gartenberg told us. "It would not surprise me if at some point in the future this became either a regulated industry, a large lawsuit emerges, or both."