A group of research engineers at Berkeley have developed a mobile phone microscope that can photograph microbes in your blood, and analyze them for disease. The group hopes the device will be useful to doctors in developing countries to diagnose blood diseases in the field. The device uses a phone attachment with an LED, and magnified images are fed into the cell phone camera. Software installed on the phone analyzes bacterial counts, or the images can be sent to labs for quick analysis. UC Berkeley bioengineer Dan Fletcher led the CellScope research team. He said, "The same regions of the world that lack access to adequate health facilities are, paradoxically, well-served by mobile phone networks. We can take advantage of these mobile networks to bring low-cost, easy-to-use lab equipment out to more remote settings . . . We had to disabuse ourselves of the notion that we needed to spend many thousands on a mercury arc lamp and high-sensitivity camera to get a meaningful image. We found that a high-powered LED — which retails for just a few dollars — coupled with a typical camera phone could produce a clinical quality image sufficient for our goal of detecting in a field setting some of the most common diseases in the developing world."
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