If you have multiple sexual partners, the responsible thing to do is to get tested for STDs on a somewhat regular basis. Despite knowing this, a large number of people avoid doing so, perhaps out of fear of the associated stigma. Whatever the reason, anything that can be done to encourage these stragglers to get tested is a good thing, and the Hoope Ring hopes to help with that. It’s a thumb-worn ring that’s able to detect four STDs (syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis) in less than a minute.
Users start by using Hoope’s electric pulse generator to numb their skin. They then press a button on the ring, which causes its single-use retractable needle to come out. That needle is then used to draw a blood sample, which is carried by capillary action to the ring’s lab-on-a-chip.
There, the blood flows through four microfluidic channels, in which it’s exposed to different antigens that have been synthesized to catch antibodies associated with each of the targeted diseases. If any of those antibodies are present and thus captured, an electrochemical reaction occurs which is detected by the onboard electronics.
The Hoope then wirelessly transmits the data to an app on the user’s smartphone, which tells them what disease has been detected, and where in their community they can go for treatment.
Of course we’re a little puzzled that the tech needs to be in the form of a ring, since there’s very little chance you’ll want to wear this more than once… and rings are meant to be worn over extended periods of time. But it’s a small complaint for what promises to be a potentially very useful device. It’s still under development, but when ready sometime next year, it should cost around $50 and come with three needle/lab-on-a-chip cartridges.