Novel developments in mobile sensing based on the integration of microfluidic devices and smartphones
Portable electronic devices and wireless communication systems enable a broad range of applications such as environmental and food safety monitoring, personalized medicine and healthcare management. Particularly, hybrid smartphone and microfluidic devices provide an integrated solution for the new generation of mobile sensing applications. Such mobile sensing based on microfluidic devices (broadly defined) and smartphones (MS2) offers a mobile laboratory for performing a wide range of bio-chemical detection and analysis functions such as water and food quality analysis, routine health tests and disease diagnosis. MS2 offers significant advantages over traditional platforms in terms of test speed and control, low cost, mobility, ease-of-operation and data management. These improvements put MS2 in a promising position in the fields of interdisciplinary basic and applied research. In particular, MS2 enables applications to remote in-field testing, homecare, and healthcare in low-resource areas. The marriage of smartphones and microfluidic devices offers a powerful on-chip operating platform to enable various bio-chemical tests, remote sensing, data analysis and management in a mobile fashion. The implications of such integration are beyond telecommunication and microfluidic-related research and technology development. In this review, we will first provide the general background of microfluidic-based sensing, smartphone-based sensing, and their integration. Then, we will focus on several key application areas of MS2 by systematically reviewing the important literature in each area. We will conclude by discussing our perspectives on the opportunities, issues and future directions of this emerging novel field.