Looking into the livelihood of your little swimmers is time-consuming, expensive, and, not to mention, awkward. But a new rapid infertility diagnostic tool, created by a team of Harvard researchers, looks make the process easier. It allows men test their sperm with a smartphone and app — a convenience you likely never thought you wanted.
The setup consists of a set of disposable microchips and a microchip reader, the latter of which attaches to a smartphone. Users place a small sperm sample onto a chip (how’s your target practice?) and then put the chip into the reader’s slot. Your phone’s camera then morphs into a microscope and, through an app, you can watch a video of your boys. Hit record and the program analyzes the video to identify your sperm and track their movement.
So long as you’re not opposed to shoving a sperm sample into your phone, the process appears to work. A new study, published by Science Translational Medicine, compared the tracker to current lab methods. After analyzing over 350 semen samples of both fertile and infertile men side by side, they found that the smartphone system was able to identify abnormal samples with 98 percent accuracy. What’s more, trained and untrained users alike were able to use the at-home system all the same, so no lab coat required. Unless you’re into costumes.
This isn’t the first smartphone fertility test for men, but it is the first one to show sperm concentration and motility. And it provides men an affordable and accurate alternative to expensive lab tests: While standard tests can cost up to $100,000, the tracker only costs about $5 to make. On top of that, it saves you the embarrassment of giving a sample in a doctor’s office, and that’s priceless.