The Blue Box is perhaps one of the best examples of how design thinking and problem-solving can truly make a difference to the quality of life of millions of people. An estimate of 43,600 women die of breast cancer each year… that’s from the millions of women who are diagnosed with it; sometimes often too late in the cancer stages. This stems from the fact that the medical screening procedure for breast cancer can be quite literally painful. According to the CDC, more than 40% of women opt out of getting mammograms done because it’s a pain-inducing procedure that also requires exposing yourself to X-ray radiation. A student at the Universitat de Barcelona, however, is changing that by making breast-cancer screening easy, pain-free, and something you can do at home.
When Judit Giró Benet saw the CDC report that outlined how many women skipped getting mammograms done, she realized the scope of the problem and the need to have an alternate solution. Furthermore, she was frustrated by the fact that 93.55% of breast cancers diagnosed by a mammogram are “false alarms” according to the Catalan Department of Health, and that periodic exposure to X-rays can in fact be a cause for breast cancer. In response, Benet began working on her alternative… The Blue Box – a tiny at-home device that could detect breast cancer with 95% accuracy by just scanning a urine sample. “A household owning The Blue Box can have all its female members tested at their desired frequency and convenience. After creating a profile at The Blue App, the user just needs to collect some urine in a plastic container and subsequently place it inside The Blue Box”, says Benet, a biomedical engineering student who then went on to found her own company to help develop this technology. The Blue Box uses a proprietary set of cloud-based AI-based algorithms that react to specific urine metabolites, delivering results that are up to 95% accurate. The box scans the urine sample and sends the results to the cloud, where the algorithm runs its quick diagnosis, sending the results to the app. The entire process is 100% pain-free, non-irradiating, and actually encourages women to test themselves more, helping catch breast cancer in its early stages. It also brings easy testing to places with no access to medical facilities. Since all the Blue Box needs is an internet connection, breast-cancer testing can easily be brought to remote areas, helping women from all walks of life get tested.
The Blue Box was awarded as the International Winner at the James Dyson Awards in 2020. The team has just started seeking funding to afford both the patent application as well as the next set of human studies to help refine the product and the app.