Cellphone Blood Tests a Reality: a Maker Faire Original Interview

Blood testing is undergoing a revolution. Long waits in offices drawing vials of our precious liquids being updated by simple smartphone devices - We caught a glimpse of Gao, it's NotImpossibleNow, but isn't available yet :)
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Blood testing is undergoing a revolution. Long waits in offices drawing vials of our precious liquids being updated by simple smartphone devices - We caught a glimpse of Gao, it's NotImpossibleNow, but isn't available yet :)
Maker Faire, Gao

Maker Faire Bay Area is the biggest and most impressive of the Faires - a combination of Burning Man bonkers and Silicon Valley techies applying their smarts to pursuits as varied as steam punk and quadcopters. 

In a corner of the show, one savvy innovation hub/accelerator was showing off some of its latest members, including Gao, FeetMe, the $9 computer and PetCube, some of which we'll be profiling in the next couple of days. 

Gao is in the mix to provide a blood testing device for personal use. Able to identify a bunch of different markers from just a single drop of blood, it's part of a revolution that includes the new and instantly massive Theranos, whose deal with Walgreens will have a single-drop-of-blood analysis machine in that chains' every pharmacy within the next few years, and has the capacity to change how we manage our health.

Gao's benefit is its portability, an app that has an attachment captures a single drop of blood for analysis and data collection on your smartphone. Easy. And though it's not yet available in the US, we're informed by its founder, Kongsik Yun - a CalTech student originally from Korea, that it will be... soon.

Kongsik: It's a portable blood-testing device. Using a single drop of blood. You can just poke your finger. Simple. And ... You can diagnose multiple disease markers at the same time within five minutes including glucose, cholesterol, and other cardio markers ... cancer related markers. We want to reduce the price of diagnostics.

And how does that differ from what’s being developed by companies like Theranos?

Kongsik: Right... Theranos provides a service. You have to visit a doctor's office or you have to visit Walgreen's center. But Gao you can use in your home.

Very cool. Is it a pin prick?

Kongsik: Yes, pin prick.

And so is this being used for diabetic applications as well?

Kongsik: So, yes. So we are starting from diabetes, but we are expanding our testable markers. We have a vision to bring doctor's office into your living room.

Maker Faire, Gao

What was the beginning of this idea for you? Where did it come from?

Kongsik: Ah so I'm a Cal Tech bioengineering scientist. Living around Pasadena. I'm originally from Korea.

What's the next step for you? Can people download the app? Buy the attachment/device?

Kongsik: We are selling the device in Korea and China first. So we are expanding to the U. S.. And we are currently passing the FDA approval.

So you are already going through the FDA approval? You started that process?

Kongsik: We are in the process. We are about to get it.

Okay. Cool. Congratulations.

Kongsik: Thank you.

And what's the website?

Kongsik: We don't have a website yet, but we will... soon.

Maker Faire, Gao