Army develops smartphone bioterror detection system

A team of researchers under the U.S. Army's Research Development and Engineering Command recently developed a biological and chemical detection system that sends information to a soldier's smartphone.

The researchers developed volatile organic compound strips that work with a device called a Biotouch. The device relays information from VOC strips for analysis and sends results to a Nett Warrior smartphone, a Samsung phone adapted for military use, Defense Systems reports.

"The idea is to have two smartphones: the Biotouch that could test the VOC and the Nett Warrior phone that would receive the information from a different location," Peter Emanuel, the biosciences division chief for the Army's Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, said, according to Defense Systems. "The two will be able to communicate with each other through a phone portal within the encrypted network."

The VOC strips can take environmental samples, such as soil or urine, before being loaded into the Biotouch. The small device geotags the strip and connects to the Army's network. Soldiers then retrieve the results on the Nett Warrior phone.

The ECBC anticipates that prototypes of the project will be ready by May.

The researchers said the technology could eventually be used by soldiers, food inspectors, border protection, first responders and doctors, Defense Systems reports.

The project is a collaborative effort between the ECBC; the Defense Threat Reduction Agency; the Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center; and iSense.