You might be forgiven for checking the calendar doesn't actually read 1 April when you read this, but US researchers are claiming they have modified a normal mobile phone to test blood for various deadly conditions.

The UCLA team – according to Wired – has opened up an ordinary phone and built in an imaging device that could speed up disease diagnosis in remote parts of the world.

Speed and simplicity

Doctors in the field faced with anything from potential malaria to HIV could, they say, use the gadget to get a quick initial diagnosis instead of having to wait days or weeks for traditional laboratory results.

The blood-testing function comes courtesy of a digital camera sensor and a specially filtered LED light source that can reveal infected cells for analysis on the phone's screen.

If the UCLA device turns out to be as accurate as we're led to believe it has clear implications for healthcare in a huge chunk of the world that still has to wait days before starting treatment if it's available at all.