COVID-19 Could Soon Be Detected by Sneezing Onto Your iPhone

Researchers are developing a sensor for detecting viruses.
IMAGE Unsplash

A sensor is being developed by engineers so it can detect COVID-19 when the virus touches its surface. Researchers from the University of Utah originally designed a prototype that is able to detect the Zika virus, but are now reworking their design so it can detect coronavirus.

“The main idea was to enable people to have their own personal sensor to detect Zika in places that they travel. The plan is to program it to identify COVID-19 instead,” said Massood Tabib-Azar, professor at the University of Utah.

“If someone breathes, coughs, sneezes, or blows on the sensor, it would be able to tell if they had COVID-19,” said Tabib-Azar.

How It Works

According to Tabib-Azar, DNA strands in the virus react to proteins on the sensor, creating electrical resistance, which triggers a positive result in the app. But then, your phone is infected. Don’t worry though, because the sample can be destroyed by electrocuting the virus on the sensor.


The sensor is a flat surface onto which you can sneeze to find whether you have COVID-19. But that’s not advisable considering you’d be spreading tens of thousands of aerosols around you. You can just take a swab test and apply the swab on the sensor.

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Tabib-Azir said the sensor could be available within three months, since he already created the prototype last year to help detect Zika virus, which is carried by mosquitos and passed onto humans.

If the COVID-19 sensor is mass-produced, it would cost only $55, according to Tabib-Azir. This could be the techy alternative to the mass testing Filipinos have long been waiting for.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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