RT-PCR Sample Pooling will
speedup testing 5X

RT-PCR Sample Pooling 
will speedup testing 5X


The Situation

Safely opening up the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic will require well designed, efficient testing products that regular people can use. Until now, people have had to choose between the speed of rapid antigen tests and the accuracy of lab-based RT-PCR tests for diagnosing COVID. Karten Design worked with FastDetect to quickly design a PCR testing instrument capable of providing accurate test results in less than 20 minutes. This fully automated technology moves diagnostics outside the lab, and on-site at crowded locations like hotels, airports, and stadiums. It will enable the broad, frequent testing needed to curb the spread of COVID as people resume pre-pandemic activities.


We leveraged our ability to design medical devices that look and operate like consumer products. FastDetect’s FD-1 system is a sleek, simple product designed from scratch to provide fast, accurate testing outside the controlled laboratory environment. Using a process called sample pooling, the system can process up to five tests at a time instead of one. Our simple, consumer-inspired workflow and design make the system incredibly easy to use: the operator simply drops each test subject’s nasal swab into a biosafe disposable cartridge, inserts it into the instrument, and presses the START button. The system delivers a fully automated swab-to-diagnosis solution, eliminating skilled laboratory operations such as pipetting, and automates data traceability and record-keeping.

We created an experience that considers the challenges of busy public environments, from extreme weather to large crowds. The SmartTest can be set up in any location with access to power and Wifi. Test subjects receive their results from the Cloud in a secure, encrypted mobile app.

With hundreds of people still dying every day from COVID-19, speed to market was critical. Karten Design changed its process, working closely as an embedded part of the FastDetect team, to bring this innovation to the world without delay. This new system changes the paradigm for COVID testing. The company expects that the material cost of conducting RT-PCR testing with FastDetect will amount to just a few dollars per person—significantly cheaper than current PCR tests. The device is currently in clinical testing for FDA Emergency Authorization.

What We Did

Industrial Design