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Device Determines Blood Type in 5 Minutes

Device Determines Blood Type in 5 Minutes
Do you know your blood type? A Portuguese student has designed a device that can quickly determine blood type — four times faster than current solutions. In emergency situations, diagnosing a patient's blood type is vital when a blood transfusion is needed.

Ana Ferraz built a portable prototype device that has a small centrifuge with small containers for testing blood. Blood is mixed with a reagent — a substance used for chemical analysis — and put in the device, which can pair with a smartphone, tablet or PC app. Ferraz's prototype is noteworthy because it can figure out blood type in five minutes, compared to current testing methods that often take quadruple the time.

This blood tester prototype is currently 96% accurate, and Ferraz expects that to improve as it becomes market-ready for hospitals and ambulances.

Ferraz's invention was recognized last week at Microsoft's Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals, a competition in which the software giant awards students for their technological innovations. Students develop their technology, create a business plan and learn how a concept can be brought to market. This year's 11th annual competition was held in St. Petersburg, Russia, and it featured 87 teams made up of 309 students from 71 countries. Ferraz, who competed by herself, won first place and a $50,000 prize in the finals' "world citizenship" competition.

"We are able to solve a problem of health, saving lives and eliminating the blood transfusion with the principles of the universal donor," Ferraz said in a statement on her project page. She added that her portable prototype "eliminates travels to the laboratory."

Microsoft said Ferraz's idea was inspired by her realization that manual tests for determining blood type have potential for human error. That's why she wanted to make a test that was automated and quick to help save lives in emergency situations, the company added.