The CellScope – mobile phone microscopes for malaria

This is cool. Often much research feels far removed from everyday applications and practical concerns. So it is terribly rewarding to see a skunk works type creation that has great potential for how we deliver care. The CellScope is a microscope attachment for cellular phones which is designed to allow field workers to take images of specimens and send them to an expert for diagnosis. Developed by engineers at the University of California at Berkeley, the CellScope was designed to handle a range of magnifications including the optical power neccessary to diagnose malaria (malaria slide image from the CellScope).

There are a number of obstacles for the designers to overcome before such a device could become field usable – though I believe all of them should be surmountable. For example, in many malaria infections only a small portion of red blood cells are infected (often <0.5%) which means an accurate diagnosis requires the examination of many different microscope fields. The device therefore needs to image multiple fields automatically and deciding which fields to send is important. Sending too few might result in misdiagnoses and sending all fields places a large workload for technicians at the receiving end. A screening software, in the phone or the receiving workstation, capable of rapidly screening fields and selecting for example 10 out of 100 imaged fields for expert verification could overcome this challenge.


1 Response to “The CellScope – mobile phone microscopes for malaria”

  1. 1 Gil November 1, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Cellscope is a good idea and have its use. We need to explore its other use. I believe there will be more application than malaria alone.

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