Figure credits: Pixabay
Smart voice assistants have revolutionized the way people access information and control their devices. However, their potential goes beyond that, as demonstrated by a recent breakthrough in the field of science. Researchers have developed a voice-activated device that can extract and pre-treat bacterial DNA, making laboratory work safer and easier for scientists and technicians.
Working with pathogens is a dangerous task that requires handling the smallest amounts of sample possible to avoid accidental infection. On-site analysis is crucial for rapid diagnoses in the case of highly contagious diseases. Voice-activated devices that operate hands-free can greatly improve the safety and ease of use of laboratory equipment.
The researchers combined a speech recognition app with a miniaturized extraction system to create a palm-sized device that weighs only 11 ounces and can be powered by a portable battery or smartphone charger. The device consists of a microfluidic chip with multiple chambers linked by solenoid valves, which are operated by a micro-controller connected to a Bluetooth module. The team customized a smartphone app to listen for specific voice commands, sending a signal to the micro-controller to start the DNA extraction process, including sample loading, washing, and releasing the purified DNA into a collection chamber.
The system requires the user to touch the smartphone to start the speech recognition software, but the researchers envision a future where the whole operation could be made entirely hands-free with the addition of virtual assistant software. Tests showed that the device extracted DNA from Salmonella Typhimurium with an efficiency of 70
For more info: pubs.acs.org