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Hardware Hacking Medicine Science Build

Mobile Medical Lab — the $10 Phone Microscope 54

Posted by timothy
from the repurposing dept.
kkleiner writes "Aydogan Ozcan of UCLA has developed a microscope attachment for a cell phone – turning the device into a sort of mobile medical lab. It's both lightweight (~38g or 1.5 oz) and cheap (parts cost around $10). The cellphone microscope can analyze blood and saliva samples for microparticles, red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and water borne parasites. Ozcan and his team have recently won three prestigious awards for the device: a Grand Challenges award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (worth $100,000), the National Geographic Emerging Explorer award (worth $10,000), and the CAREER award from the National Science Foundation ($400,000). With these funds, Ozcan plans on starting case studies in Africa to see how the microscope can help revolutionize global medicine."
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Mobile Medical Lab — the $10 Phone Microscope

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  • tricorder (Score:5, Informative)

    by Foofoobar (318279) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @03:39PM (#32830344)
    And the tricorder has been invented. Dammit Jim, I'm playing Tetris not examining blood cells!
  • by therealobsideus (1610557) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @03:44PM (#32830410)
    Only thing I would be worried about is (if this hits a free market and consumers can buy the products for this) that people interested in diagnosing their own conditions would attempt self diagnosis. This may drastically help the NGOs in third world countries who are limited by funds to help treat those without access to even basic healthcare. Who knows, it may even bring down the cost of medical care here in the US. Hey, one can dream right?
    • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:59PM (#32831656) Homepage

      I would be more concerned about people who must either diagnose themselves or go undiagnosed being blocked by well meaning (or not) regulators that can't face up to the fact that more people suffer and die because of them than in spite of them.

      • I think I would still be concerned more of the habitual "WebMD" crowd, who are constantly checking to see if they have symptoms of some hideous disease or ailment and other forms of Hypochondriasis. The last thing the US health care system needs is people running to the ER because they saw a RBC on their $10 phone microscope and thought it was some sort of virus or bacteria.
      • more people suffer and die because of them than in spite of them.

        ROTFLMAO.

      • by skids (119237)

        Medical marijuana. E-cigs. Yup, they'll probably try to ban this, too.

        What the inventor needs to do is find a non-medical use for it -- like checking your brewers yeast count or something -- to allow sale of the physical attachment. Then the medical software add-ons can easily evade regulation.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        I would be more concerned about people who must either diagnose themselves or go undiagnosed being blocked by well meaning (or not) regulators that can't face up to the fact that more people suffer and die because of them than in spite of them.

        Indeed, throughout Africa and Asia the main health issue is government over-regulation of medical facilities.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by elucido (870205) *

      Only thing I would be worried about is (if this hits a free market and consumers can buy the products for this) that people interested in diagnosing their own conditions would attempt self diagnosis. This may drastically help the NGOs in third world countries who are limited by funds to help treat those without access to even basic healthcare. Who knows, it may even bring down the cost of medical care here in the US. Hey, one can dream right?

      As if that would be a bad thing? If someone knows something is wrong with them they can take necessary steps to prevent it from getting worse. Prevention saves money. I just got a blood test today in fact, if I could test my own blood and get the results immediately that would revolutionize everything.

      If you want to test yourself for STDs, test your liver, or check yourself for diabetes, you can do that in your living room. That's definitely better than paying money for that.

    • by musmax (1029830)

      Only thing I would be worried about is (if this hits a free market and consumers can buy the products for this) that people interested in diagnosing their own conditions would attempt self diagnosis.

      I do not need a priest to pray to God, I do not need a mechanic to service my car, I do not need a programmer to write my code and I do not need a doctor to diagnose my condition. In fact, if I could get rid of the doctor completely why wouldn't I - a well trained expert system running on a modern phone aught to out-diagnose any doctor, and if it can't today it won't be long until it can.

      • by ChatHuant (801522)

        a well trained expert system running on a modern phone aught to out-diagnose any doctor,

        Agreed: if you have an iPhone, you won't need a proctologist anymore!

    • You can buy some cheap analog microscopes for under $20, and some digital ones in the $50 range too.

      This cell phone attachment is no more enabling of self-diagnosis than any prior available equipment, but it's easier to deploy to people in the field.

    • by abulafia (7826)

      I get the complaint. And I do realize that hypochondriacs and their less obsessive "I feel bad, give me a pill" types eat an unfortunate amount of medical resources. But there is a pathological strain (excuse me) of thought in the medical community that holds that patients should stay completely medically ignorant, else they complicate the healing process. Some take this way too far (I'm sure many folks here have had an experience with a doctor that should really have become a vet), and turn it in to a weir

  • Cuz you know, the flip phones already stole his TOS communicator design (patents?). Blatantly.

    I suppose this strangely named college kid has never even heard of Gene Roddenberry.

    • by Gilmoure (18428)

      Part of Roddenberry's deal with the tv studios was that any company that produced working tech similar to stuff on Star Trek would be allowed to use names like Tricorder and such.

  • by TempeNerd (410268)

    When given the choice between several phone microscopes,
    whichever phone makes the simplest microscope is the one to use.

    • by spazdor (902907)

      Hanlon's RAZR: Never attribute to hangups that which is adequately explained by dropped calls?

  • *twitch* (Score:4, Funny)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @03:50PM (#32830494)

    Ozcan plans on starting case studies in Africa to see how the microscope can help revolutionize global medicine.

    I think it already has, dude.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by copponex (13876)

      He's probably referring to that specific microscope at that particular cost.

      Kidney dialysis machines that are $100,000: great if you live in the west. Kidney dialysis machines that are $1,000: great if you live anywhere.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Then the correct article would have been "this" not "the".

        • by copponex (13876)

          I don't know. Let's call some ancient English professor and see if shortening "the cellphone microscope" to "the microscope" later in the same paragraph qualifies it for points off in some imaginary thesis.

          I imagine his response would be, "Well, if your audience is incapable of reading comprehension for more than a few sentences, I wouldn't bother in the first place."

  • Just bill $100 per use

    • by nametaken (610866) *

      Yeah great.

      "award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (worth $100,000)" and With these funds, Ozcan plans on starting case studies in Africa to see how the microscope can help revolutionize global medicine.

      Not that you're one of them, but this is precisely where some tinfoil hat wearer comes out of the woodwork to remind us that the Gates Foundation only awards money with strings attached to boost the profits of med tech companies that they invest in. Nevermind that Ozcan gets to decide how he uses

  • Most data from body fluids is ascertained via chemical tests, not optical means. This thing would be killer for diagnosing leukemia, anemia, or malaria...but at the end of the day, this phone microscope suffers from the same limitations as microscopes in general do.

    I could see this being pretty useful in other realms. Material science, geology, forensics...

    • by Antony T Curtis (89990) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:13PM (#32830852) Homepage Journal

      Sickle cell is relatively common in the African Continent. Along with malaria and other parasites (snails?) in areas where there is stagnant water. I think that a portable diagnostic microscope would be of great benefit since there are many conditions rampant in less developed nations that can be diagnosed by looking at the blood, especially if it is possible to transmit the picture to an expert for confirmation.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by alexander_686 (957440)

      I don't know how much this counts but....

      My wife is a veterinarian and they routinely do white cell counts, look for parasites in the stool, etc, I can't imagine that the human world is too far off.

  • by Amazon, a few years back.
  • by liak12345 (967676) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @03:58PM (#32830622)
    Children in developing worlds will get the completely wrong picture about cellular biology.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:10PM (#32830810)
    Because I'm not buying it unless it does.
  • AC troll complaining about government waste because of the $400,000 NSF award in 3... 2... 1...
  • From the summary"

    "Ozcan plans on starting case studies in Africa to see how the microscope can help revolutionize global medicine"

    Okay, if the goal is really to revolutionize global medicine, where's the parts list, schematic, and software download repository?

    • From the summary"

      "Ozcan plans on starting case studies in Africa to see how the microscope can help revolutionize global medicine"

      Okay, if the goal is really to revolutionize global medicine, where's the parts list, schematic, and software download repository?

      Imagine the power of open software, along with the hardware? The software could handle the diagnosis so that it's no longer amateur diagnosis. The software could track blood sugar levels, check all sorts of stuff to completely prevent diseases which are entirely preventable.

  • so I estimate that the final cost to the consumer will be somewhere in the region of $1000 - it is a "medical" device after all.

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