Although a lot of people are concerned about monitoring their cholesterol levels, probably not many of those people want to head off to a clinic or use an expensive, complicated device to get those levels tested every few days. Soon, however, they may not have to. Scientists from Cornell University have developed a gadget called the smartCARD, that allows users to easily check their own cholesterol using their iPhone.

The smartCARD (smartphone Cholesterol Application for Rapid Diagnostics) attaches over top of the phone's camera, and has a slot in it which receives a standard test strip.

Users place a drop of their blood on that strip, which causes the strip to change color in response to biomarkers present in the sample. Once the strip is fed into the device, a built-in flash evenly illuminates it while the phone's camera snaps its picture.

An accompanying app then performs a colorimetric analysis of the image, and is able to provide an exact cholesterol reading. The whole process is said to take about a minute.

Lead scientist David Erickson claims that although the device is ready to commercialize in its current form, the team wants to develop it further first. For instance, so far it can only measure total cholesterol, although work is under way to get it to differentiate between both "good" and "bad" cholesterol.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Lab on a Chip.

View gallery - 2 images