Your future smartphone display might detect if you have a cold and could even analyze your DNA.
Researchers from Polytechnique Montreal and Gorilla Glass manufacturer Corning are working together to develop display sensors that read your spit.
The sensors would be embedded within the smartphone’s display and allow users to take their temperature, assess blood levels (if diabetic) and in theory, work alongside platforms such as Apple’s HomeKit to give users more information about their health in real time.
While it’s rumored that Apple may be switching away from Corning’s Gorilla Glass display for the iPhone 6 (and implementing Crystal Sapphire glass instead), this might be a compelling reason for Apple to stick with Corning.
As detailed in The Optical Society’s open-access journal Optics Express, the team has created what it calls the first laser-written light-guiding systems that could pioneer these advancements.
“We’re opening the Pandora’s box at the moment,” said paper co-author Raman Kashyap, a professor of electrical engineering and engineering physics at Polytechnique Montreal, in a statement. Now that the technique is viable, “it’s up to people to invent new uses” for it, he added.
The hope is that tech companies could embed these biomedical sensors into other devices too, such as windows or tabletops.
To make this possible, the researchers shot lasers into glass to create pathways that transmit data in the form of small beams of light. The waveguides act as tunnels that channel light, similar to how electronic wires convey electrical signals.
By adding these waveguides to mobile phones and adding a readable code, it opens up opportunities for manufacturers to get creative. While waveguides aren’t new, the researchers say its new approach created by the team are 10 times better at minimizing such loss than previous ones made with lasers, Corning said.
There are also use cases for the display to monitor carbon-monoxide levels in the air and add security to mobile devices too.
For now, both the temperature sensor and authentication system are patent pending.