The apps we use on our cellphones can tell a lot about us, but researchers now say the molecules on the outside of our phones can also reveal a lot about our lifestyles.
A study from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) has determined that microbes left behind on everyday objects can be collected and analyzed to create a lifestyle sketch of the user of the object.
"All of these chemical traces on our bodies can transfer to objects," said senior author Pieter Dorrestein, Ph.D., UCSD. "So we realized we could probably come up with a profile of a person's lifestyle based on chemistries we can detect on objects they frequently use."
Researchers took swabs from cellphones and were able to determine "diet, preferred hygiene products, health status and locations visited."
Microbes from foods, cosmetics, medications and other everyday items can help create a personalized lifestyle "readout."
The readouts provide a general lifestyle profile, not one-to-one matches like DNA or fingerprints.
Scientists believe that the study can be useful for criminal investigations in crime scenes that don't have DNA or fingerprint evidence, and for medical and environmental studies.