Smartphone APP Allows Women To Determine Fertility Window

MedicalResearch.comInterview with:

Hadi Shafiee, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Division of Engineering in Medicine
Brigham and Women's Hospital

Hadi Shafiee, PhD
Harvard Medical School
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Division of Engineering in Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Harvard Medical School  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Last year we developed a smartphone-based technology for male infertility testing at-home, which was published at Science Translational Medicine. This year, we developed a similar technology for ovulation testing at-home. Here, we developed a 3D printed smartphone-attachment similar to a cellphone case that literally turns the phone to a small microscope. 

This low-cost smartphone attachment magnifies the saliva fern structures dried on a reusable device that will be  recorded using the smartphone camera. The entire sample-to-answer time is only few minutes (~7 mins). The developed ovulation test is fully automated, simple, and easy-to-use. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The saliva-based test for ovulation is an FDA recognized test  for women intending to conceive and there are products that are currently available in the market that make use of the ‘ferning’ phenomenon for ovulation  testing. However, these products require women to manually view the ferning structures under a lens and estimate if they are ovulating based on the pattern  that they see. This affects the reliability of an otherwise economical and eco-friendly solution. One study even found that over 50% of such tests were uninterpretable  by the users.

Our solution solves all these problems by making them reliable without a drastic increase in cost. The microfluidic chip provides better sample volume control and faster drying times. The smartphone device uses advances in artificial intelligence (deep learning) to very accurately(>99%) analyze the complete microchip in ~30 seconds and give you results in the press of a button. Women can have a very economical, easy to use, reliable device for checking their fertile window. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Our next step is to move towards FDA-approvals and commercialization. We have already initiated discussions with several companies who are interested in the technology. We envision that commercialization of such product will most likely take less than2 years.


Vaishnavi Potluri et al, An inexpensive smartphone-based device for point-of-care ovulation testing, Labon a Chip (2018). DOI: 10.1039/C8LC00792F 

Dec 13, 2018 @ 11:11 pm

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