IIT Kharagpur develops portable device to detect COVID-19

IIT Kharagpur develops first-ever low-cost portable kit for rapid COVID-19 tests at Rs 400.

Researchers at IIT Kharagpur have developed a first of its kind portable rapid diagnostic device to detect coronavirus at less than ₹400 per test.

This will make testing for coronavirus more accessible to everyone and not just people who can afford the tests from expensive laboratories and RT-PCR machines. The portable unit can be used for a large number of tests by replacing the paper of the cartridge after each use.

The new technology deploys a simple paper strip for chemical analysis and visualization of the results. Professor Suman Chakraborty and Dr. Arindam Mondal came up with the concept.

The results, which only take 60 minutes, can be accessed from a customised smartphone application, without requiring manual interpretation. It can also be operated by minimally-trained personnel and in locations with extremely poor resources.

The low-cost device has produced results with remarkable accuracy and sensitivity and with no false results as of yet. The results have been validated by following all established laboratory controls against the RT-PCR machine results which have been set as a benchmark.


“The device has been proven to produce no false result with remarkable accuracy and sensitivity compatible to standard RT-PCR tests. This test has an unprecedented low cost of less than ₹400 per test, taking all components of expenses and business model into account,” said Suman Chakraborty from the Mechanical Engineering Department, IIT Kharagpur.

“The unique portable device developed by the IIT Kharagpur researchers has not only been validated for the diagnostics of COVID-19 but also been designed to be capable of detecting any other kind of RNA virus by following the same generic procedure. The impact of this, therefore, is long-lasting, empowered by the capability of detecting unforeseen viral pandemics in the coming years that may potentially endanger human lives time and again,” said Mondal. 

This apart, IIT Kharagpur is ready for the commercialization of the product. Any corporate or start-up can approach the Institute for technology licensing and commercial scale of production.

The Institute is open to tie-ups, including a mode where the government intervenes with regards to meeting our low-cost healthcare objective for the under-served community as a policy measure to protect the interest of public health amidst the pandemic situation, instead of merely developing a strong profit-oriented model. 

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