We all know toys have a remarkable impact on children (and adults too). After all, not only does it keep them busy and provide an outlet for fun, but a lot of toys have got education aspects to their design as well that stimulates those creative and intellectual juices and forms a healthy part of mental development. Some toys may just be able to provide some other hidden benefits too, as is the case with this new origami-like strip of paper.
While paper sensors are nothing new, this new origami-like strip of paper was able to accurately detect malaria in 98 per cent of cases in a test group of schoolchildren in Uganda with the hope that rolling out similar technology on toys could be used to detect the disease – and possibly others – in kids while they play with toys. Early detection allow treatment to begin as soon as possible. It’s a noble idea with some great technology that could make a massive impact in the future.
How the technology works though is still a little creepy though as it does require an actual blood sample from the children. According to the National Academy of Sciences who developed the technology (via The Verge), the first step is to put a prick of blood on a special piece of paper that is covered in wax (to control how the blood flows) and specific chemicals (to prepare the blood for testing).
Folding the paper in a specific way manipulates the blood so that it’s ready for the next step. The sample is put next to tiny testing strips that can detect the presence of the malaria parasite. Then, the entire thing is sealed with a film and placed on a hot plate for 45 minutes. As the package containing an infected sample heats up, the malaria parasite’s DNA is copied repeatedly, making it easier to detect. If it’s there, the strips will show two red bands. If not, they will only show one.
I still think technology like this is a little invasive for the average kid, but given time and perhaps a way of getting the technology to be more subtle or even transmit information wirelessly and we could be able to have toys saving the lives of kids around the world.
Last Updated: February 20, 2019