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New smartphone app brings whole new meaning to "I'll give you a tinkle".

The app is called uChek and, in point of fact, and thankfully, it is not necessary to widdle over a handset for the app to work. Users dip a standard test strip (of the type used to check blood sugar levels in diabetes cases) into a urine sample and then use the handset to photograph the result. The strip is placed on a provided 'mat' that, it is claimed, will even-out colour variations caused when the strips are are photographed in a varying range of light conditions.

The uChek app then compares the shade of the strip with a colour chart held on the app and indicates the possibility that the user may have symptoms of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver and unrinary tract infections, and twenty others.

uChek will be available via Apple's app store from the end of this month and will cost US$20. That includes the cost of the mat and five dipsticks, (whoever they may be). An Android version is in the (water)works an will be released within the next couple of months.

Although the new app may have some take-up and even cachet amongst rich, western hypochondriacs it is expected that uChek will be invaluable in the fight against diseases in the developing world. Thus the app will be tested at the King Edward Memorial hospital in Mumbai, India where its accuracy will be a calibrated against expensive laboratory-based devices for testing urine.

Myshkin Ingawale, the co-founder of the Indian medical technology company, Biosense Technologies, and the man behind uChek says, "If it [the app] does well we can make it available to mobile clinics. So instead of going to all the expense of buying a $10,000 machine they can use their existing smartphones".

Mr. Ingawale adds, “Everyone pees and everybody carries a smartphone. We figured we had to be able to do something with this.”

Well, he's right in one out of two assertions there. Certainly everyone needs to take a leak (and some more often than others) but far from everyone yet has a smartphone, That said it is to be hoped that as prices fall and technology improves more and more people in the developing world will be able to afford one and that could lead to the rapid, inexpensive and accurate mass medical screening of millions of people.

According to the GSMA, mobile health services could help protect and save more than a million lives in Africa alone over the next five years.

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