New Zealand researchers have developed a novel, hand-held DNA assay capable of detecting suspected viruses and bacteria, as well as the severity of infection, according to a news release.

The battery-powered device, which utilizes quantitative PCR technology, provides results within 1 hour, potentially allowing its user to determine the presence of a pathogen and the extent of infection in samples while remaining at the site of an outbreak.

The device, dubbed “Freedom4,” is approximately the same weight as a typical laptop and has a 6-hour battery life. It can be connected to a computer or operate wirelessly with mobile devices running custom software.

It was found to perform as well as laboratory-based DNA sequencing on a variety of infectious diseases, including gastrointestinal infections such as toxin-producing E. coli and respiratory infections such as influenza A(H1N1).