July 23, 2009

Cellphone + microscope = Cellscope!

I don't always repost on the cool things I come across but this was worth it, even if KC and Harvey are the only ones that will really share my enthusiasm.

The folks at Fletcher Lab in Berkeley have fitted a light microscope to an ordinary cellphone. It can snap a photo of a specimen which can then be zipped off through the ethereal radio waves to a clinician for review. Great application for regions not served by hospitals or clinics.

"The CellScope project focuses on the development of a modular, high-magnification microscope attachment for cell phones. Due to its portability, affordability and functionality, the CellScope will enable health workers in remote areas to take high-resolution images of a patient's blood cells using the mobile phone's camera, and then transmit the photos to experts at medical centers. This device can reduce both the cost and time of performing critical disease diagnoses, as well as provide early warning of outbreaks in poverty-stricken regions in the world.

The CellScope team is developing a range of prototype lenses of varying lengths, giving either low or high magnification, depending on the lens and the application. The team envisions that the final product, after the optics are optimized, will be only a few inches long and weigh less than a pound. Already, they have successfully imaged malaria and tuberculosis (TB) using the CellScope system with image quality comparable to standard diagnostic microscopy. Their current focus is on developing applications to tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis and monitoring. Over the next year the team plans to carry out a pilot field study in collaboration with partner and begin the revision of the CellScope based on field test data."


  1. That's a really cool thing to have. I was reading up on malaria and TB just to see how it would work. At least for the malaria, you'd just need a blood smear on a slide. For TB, I wdon't think it would be blood, but sputum.

    I hope it does pass field testing and becomes a useful diagnostic tool. I wonder how much it costs because it would be a cool thing to have at home!

  2. "Allegedly" the cost will be less than trying to outfit clinics with even the most basic light microscopes. Hmm, now did I read that or invent it in my head?

    Yes, sputum. Yum.

  3. Yup, I want one!