An app for peanut allergies?

Peanuts and other strong allergens can trigger severe, even fatal, reactions. For countless individuals and parents, this is a constant source of anxiety, as the tiniest trace might be sufficient to induce a violent anaphylactic shock.

However, researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Campaign, are currently working on a project that promises to end such worries once and for all. Together with a small, external "cradle" unit, a new app turns your smartphone into a quick and reliable biosensor. The innovation allows people with allergies to find out immediately whether a food is safe for consumption.

According to Kenny Long, a graduate researcher at the university, the app will not only test for allergens, but for environmental toxins, bacteria, and other contamination as well.

"Say that you have a peanut allergy, or that your son or daughter has a peanut allergy, and you want to know if something is safe to eat - and be really certain about it," Long explains, stirring crumbs from a cookie into a liquid and pouring the mixture into a small test tube fitted onto a translucent frame. He inserts the frame into the cradle unit, where a sequence of lenses and filters allows the phone to detect and assess toxicity, allergens and other values. The data appears on the screen as a spectrum of colors.

"Based on how the colors change, you can find out whether there are peanuts at a concentration that would be dangerous to your health," he told The Associated Press.

Check out the video below, and find out how the new technology can change the lives of people with allergies. Learn more about peanut allergy here.