The most personal data on your phone is your microbiome

Our phones reflect our personal microbiomes through constant daily exposure to our thumbs, index fingers and outside environments, new research shows.

Victorgrigas/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Guest post by Chris Riotta

In an age where cell phones are known to be an “extension of self,” it isn’t surprising that your cell phone knows more about you than you think.

Cell phones host their owners’ signature set of microbes, scientists report in a new study published June 24 in PeerJ. The gadgets collect personal microbiomes as users swipe through apps and websites, make calls and write text messages with their index fingers and thumbs. This set of microorganisms then tells researchers about the environments the owner of the phone interacts with on a daily basis.

Hospitals could one day use the microbiomes on smartphones to predict the spread of infections among patients, or studying the microbes may eventually be used to reveal biological threats, the scientists suggest.

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