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Voice-activated device could make DNA handling at the laboratory safer for scientists

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Smart voice assistants are a popular way for people to get quick answers or play their favorite music. The same technology could make laboratories safer for scientists and technicians working with potentially infectious samples.researchers in ACS sensor reports a miniature voice-activated device that extracts and preprocesses bacterial DNA to help protect those on the front lines of disease outbreaks. The system also helps scientists with disabilities to conduct research more easily.

Scientists working with samples containing pathogens should work with the smallest possible volume to avoid accidental infection. Also, for highly contagious bacterial diseases, on-site sample analysis is ideal for rapid diagnosis. Additionally, scientists with visual impairments or other physical disabilities can have difficulty operating complex instruments, especially those designed for small volumes. Hands-free devices that can be operated quickly with voice commands can make this process easier and safer. So Tae Seok Seo and his colleagues wanted to do just that by combining a speech recognition app with a miniaturized extraction system.

The researchers first created a microfluidic chip with multiple chambers linked together by six three-way solenoid valves operated by a microcontroller connected to a Bluetooth module. The palm-sized device weighs just 11 ounces and can be powered by a portable battery or 5V smartphone charger. We then used our existing speech recognition software to customize the smartphone app to listen for specific voice commands. Here’s how it works:

  • When the user shouts out one of the operation commands, the app wirelessly sends a start signal to the microcontroller.
  • After receiving the signal, the microcontroller automatically initiates a series of steps including sample loading, washing, and release of purified DNA into the collection chamber.

While the system currently requires the user to touch the smartphone to activate voice recognition software, researchers say the addition of virtual assistant software could make the entire operation completely hands-free in the future. There is a nature.

In tests, a voice-controlled device extracted DNA. Salmonella typhimuriumPurifies 10 µL of sample in less than 1 minute with 70% efficiency. Although the system underperformed his traditional DNA extraction kits, the researchers said its voice control, portability, and rapid automation offer advantages for convenient and safe bacterial DNA testing. I’m here.


Journal reference:

Buoy, Hong Kong, and others. (2023) Speech Recognition Capability of Smartphones for Automated Operation of Portable Sample Preparation Microfluidic Systems. ACS sensor. doi.org/10.1021/acssensors.2c01849.

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