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Yale Is Working on a Cheap Coronavirus Saliva Test, and the NBA Is Giving It Spit – Gizmodo

Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Photo: Kevin C. Cox (Getty Images)

The Yale School of Public Health on Saturday received emergency regulatory authorization for a new covid-19 diagnostic test that detects the novel coronavirus using saliva samples instead of samples from nasopharyngeal swabs. Next, it wants to find out if the test can be used to detect cases in asymptomatic individuals, and it has a surprising partner: the NBA. The association’s key contribution? Lots of spit.

Called SalivaDirect, the test consists of a new low-cost, flexible protocol that can be used by many labs, even if they do not have the same equipment. Since SalivaDirect is a protocol, it is not a kit that you can buy. Per the Food and Drug Administration, designated laboratories could follow the methodology to obtain the required components and perform the test in their lab according to Yale’s instructions for use. Yale will offer the protocol to labs for free.

The FDA granted Yale an emergency use authorization for SalivaDirect this weekend. SalivaDirect is the fifth covid-19 test that uses saliva as a sample that the agency has authorized.

According to Yale, SalivaDirect is unique in three ways. First of all, as mentioned above, the test uses saliva samples to detect the virus, not samples from nasopharyngeal swabs. The swabs are the intimidating looking sticks you see being jammed up peoples’ noses. Yale states that getting these swabs can be uncomfortable, a factor that discourages people from getting tested frequently, and puts those performing the test at risk of getting sick. In comparison, SalivaDirect doesn’t require any special type of swab or collection device, and can be collected in any sterile container.

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Another key difference is the nucleic acid extraction step: It doesn’t have one. Yale affirms that nucleic acid extraction is time-consuming and expensive, and that the practice has been subject to worldwide shortages of supplies. Labs, scientists and public health officials have agonized over the availability of reagents, the chemicals needed to carry out coronavirus tests, at multiple times during the pandemic.

Thirdly, Yale maintains that its method is flexible given that it aims to work with as many different variations of equipment and reagents as possible. This will allow “labs to work with what they have and to prevent shortages.”

Nathan Grubaugh, a Yale School of Public Health assistant professor who was part of the team that spearheaded the development of SalivaDirect, said that researchers simplified the test so that it only costs a couple of dollars for reagents. He said the researchers expects labs will only charge $10 per sample.

“Wide-spread testing is critical for our control efforts,” Grubaugh said in a statement released by Yale. “If cheap alternatives like SalivaDirect can be implemented across the country, we may finally get a handle on this pandemic, even before a vaccine.”

After all that science, you may be thinking, where does the NBA come in? According to the Wall Street Journal, Yale needed validation studies in order to receive regulatory authorization to offer their protocol more widely, specifically for asymptomatic testing. Researchers aim to determine whether SalivaDirect can accurately detect asymptomatic cases, or cases with people who do not show symptoms of covid-19. Validation studies meant researchers needed spit, and the NBA, along with the National Basketball Players Association, just happened to offer the scientists some from players and staff.

NBA officials contacted Yale in May after reading news coverage of the team’s work on saliva testing for covid-19 and offered to collaborate. The NBA’s players are tested for covid-19 often and in many ways, per the Journal. Over the last two months, teams in their home markets and in the Walt Disney World bubble, where the NBA has restarted its season, have provided nose, mouth and saliva samples for testing.

The saliva samples are sent to Yale, while the nose and mouth samples are sent to Quest Diagnostics and BioReference Laboratories. The Yale research effort on asymptomatic testing is called Surveillance with Improved Screening and Health, or SWISH. The Journal reports that the results of the saliva tests are compared to the results of nasal and oral tests from the same players and team staffers, although no results are identifiable by name.

SWISH is ongoing and is currently testing samples from NBA staffers at Walt Disney World.

Discovering whether SalivaDirect can be used to detect asymptomatic cases may take longer than expected, however. As the Journal notes, there have been no positive covid-19 cases repor

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It’s modular, it’s cheap, it runs Windows—it’s the $300 Kano tablet PC – Ars Technica

it won’t run crysis, stop asking —

Microsoft and Kano teamed up to battle ChromeOS with a cheap Windows 10 tablet.

  • The Kano PC offers similar specs to this year’s Chromebooks at a similar price—but it runs Windows, not ChromeOS.

  • This is the back view of a fully assembled Kano PC. Note the clear case and the battery plugged in via USB.


  • The Kano PC ships disassembled—you and your kids can snap it together somewhat like Legos.


  • Kano claims many things of the Kano PC. “Sleek” is not one of them, as this sideview demonstrates—its modularity comes at a price.


Last June, educational software and hardware vendor Kano announced an ambitious new project: a build-your-own computer kit based on x86 hardware and Windows 10. This replaces similar products Kano has offered for years, based on the Raspberry Pi. The finished product, designed in partnership with Microsoft, launched today.

The Kano PC, retailing for $299, is an 11.6-inch touchscreen two-in-one design, usable as either tablet or laptop—although it’s a Windows system, it most strongly resembles an extremely chunky Android tablet in a folding case with a built-in keyboard. The case includes a built-in stand to prop the screen up at a landscape viewing angle, as well as the integrated keyboard and touchpad.

The Kano PC ships with Windows 10 Home in S Mode and is powered by an Intel Celeron N4000 CPU, 4GB of DDR3L RAM, and 64GB eMMC storage. It also has a microSD card slot for adding storage later. Wi-Fi connectivity is included, but it’s not stellar—the specs describe it as dual-band b/g/n, with Bluetooth 5.0. Resolution on the touchscreen is 1366×768, and video can be pushed to an external display via an HDMI port. The system also offers two USB 3.0 ports, one USB-C port, and three audio jacks (two out, one in).


The Kano PC is cheerfully and unashamedly targeted to kids, with bright colors and plastic everywhere. But the best part about the system is likely to be its modular design—the reason it’s so chunky is that the major components snap together somewhat like Legos and can be individually replaced (and, eventually, upgraded).

The back of Kano PC’s case is transparent, so kids can see what’s inside even after it’s assembled, and it should be pretty rugged. Kano says the screen “withstands a steel ball dropped from six feet”—although it doesn’t specify how large that steel ball is.

Kano hopes that the device will compete with Chromebooks to become the primary device for students in classrooms, rather than being relegated to a single oddball device in the corner. Running a full Windows operating system—even if in S mode—does offer more flexibility than ChromeOS, but that flexibility is a dual-edged sword. Students may be able to learn more from devices which aren’t as tightly locked down as a Chromebook, but they also have far more opportunity to render them unusable due to malware or misconfiguration.

It’s hard to say what the Kano PC’s real performance will feel like until we get our hands on one to test—and, yes, we’ve retail-ordered one to review here soon. Kano provided Novabench with results that position the Kano PC well north of a $350 Acer Spin 11—which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, since the Spin 11 uses a Celeron N3350 instead of the Kano’s N4000.

Although we aren’t particularly familiar with Novabench, it’s reassuring to see that the Kano PC’s specified CPU score of 225 is slightly higher than the N4000’s average CPU score of 212. This is a strong indicator that we won’t be seeing any EVOO-style underclocking shenanigans keeping the little Celeron from performing to its full potential.

The Kano PC is available today through the company’s store, Best Buy, and the Microsoft Store, with in-store stock expected in Best Buy locations across the United States and Canada soon.

Listing image by Kano

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