Molecules On Your Smartphone Reveal Your Lifestyle Secrets

Posted: Nov 15 2016, 7:19am CST | by , Updated: Nov 15 2016, 8:04am CST, in Latest Science News


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Dirt on Your Smartphone Reveals Your Lifestyle Secrets
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  • The Dirt that Accumulates on a Smartphone shows a Lot about the Owner’s Personality

There is talk about how the dirt that accumulates on a smartphone over time shows a lot about the owner’s personality and general habits.

Digging up the dirt on someone is a function for which WikiLeaks is famous. Yet did you know that this could be taken in a literal manner as well. Apparently, the dirt that is left behind on your smartphone may speak volumes about the kind of activities you participate in on a daily basis.

Via a speedy swab test, scientists can find out more about the owner’s lifestyle. This includes their diet, health, the sites they frequent and their hygiene habits.

The experts see a large scope for such tests that could reveal so many traits about smartphone owners’ lifestyles. All the way from forensics to health profiling, the exposure to toxic entities and any palliative measures will come in the record from a simple swab test.

"You can imagine a scenario where a crime scene investigator comes across a personal object -- like a phone, pen or key -- without fingerprints or DNA, or with prints or DNA not found in the database. They would have nothing to go on to determine who that belongs to," said senior author Pieter Dorrestein, PhD, professor in UC San Diego School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

"So we thought -- what if we take advantage of left-behind skin chemistry to tell us what kind of lifestyle this person has?"

While DNA testing and fingerprints may be old school methods by now, this latest grime analysis method has everything going for it. The traces of chemicals on our skin can make their way to the smartphone which we handle day in and day out.

The objects one comes in contact with everyday also happen to carry the dirt that resides on a microscopic level on our body. Over 39 participants were involved in the study.

Their smartphones were put under the microscope. Four areas on the smartphones as well as eight sites on the owners’ hands were given the swab test. A method known as mass spectrometry was used in all this analysis.

Thus the particular type of molecules present were revealed. A large database of molecules from various products was used as a reference point to compare the microbes that were present on the smartphones and the hands of the owners.

Everything from hair growth creams to anti-depressants and from anti-fungal creams to anti-inflammatory agents will appear in the dirt record (so to say).

Also herbs, spices and products containing caffeine came up in the tests. Finally, mosquito repellent sprays and sunscreen lotion were also found among the stuff that got rubbed off on smartphones from their owners’ hands.

Whether a person is a female, uses beauty products, dyes her hair, drinks coffee, beer or wine, enjoys hot food or has been treated by a psychiatrist are all markers that readily appear in the record via this method.

Even small traces of fecal matter turn up on the smartphones of some people who don’t follow proper hygienic practices. All this could be grist for the mill and contribute to the profile of the smartphone owner.

This proof-of-concept study got published on November 14, 2016 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
Sumayah Aamir (Google+) has deep experience in analyzing the latest trends.




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