Our initial prototypes were designed with fluid flow as the top priority. Once we had a developed a potential prototype, we conducted surveys in Indonesia and Pakistan, two countries with high production and consumption of street food. These surveys addressed street food vendors and consumers. Their feedback and input was essential in the first major additions and modifications made to our prototype. Those that were surveyed showed interest in our device, and wanted the device to be portable, with easy-to-visualize results. They were willing to pay 63 USD, on average, and suggested having results within 2 hours.
Taking this into consideration, we decided to use Peltier Modular Cooling system with a 6 Volts, 1.5 Amperes external power supply adapter as a cheap and reliable heat source. This heat source was eventually chosen because it provided the reliability of an ITO heater without the high price tag. Additionally, the Peltier was a more eco-friendly option than disposable hand warmers.
The calculations for the cost of 3D printing showed that it was a suitable method for the creation of a portable and rugged device. The device also contains a visualization window for easy interpretation of the results. In the future, we also envision the use of colorimetric dye such as hydroxynaphthol blue to visualize the LAMP amplification without the need of UV or blue light. Hence, our device is geared towards the consumer’s opinions, in being portable, cheap, and easy-to-operate.
The survey also asked individuals about their opinions and suggestions for our project. Most commented on how essential such a device was, because they realized the importance of the safety of food and understood the consequences of selling unhealthy food. They also suggested that the government should be involved in taking the necessary measures to ensure that a device for the detection of toxins is available in the market, and readily provided to street food vendors and consumers. To this end, we have pitched our work to startAD, a platform that supports start ups in the United Arab Emirates. With their support, we hope to refine our prototype and make it accessible to consumers, food vendors and governments to aid in rapid pathogen detection.
Disclaimer: The figure quoted in the video reflects the price of the device itself. The cost of the biological reagents were not included in the pricing of the device.