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Mobile Medical Lab — the $10 Phone Microscope

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the repurposing dept.

Hardware Hacking 54

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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Great for sexting (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32830340)

Even those with micropenises can join in on the fun.

Re:Great for sexting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32831172)

"-1, Troll"? I smell butthurt.

MIdichlorians? (1)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 4 years ago | (#32831464)

The first thing I thought of was testing for midichlorians. Then I had to remind myself that that movie doesn't exist.

Re:MIdichlorians? (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 4 years ago | (#32831902)

But that won't stop George Lucas from having his team of Sith Lawyers send Cease & Desist letters to them.

Re:MIdichlorians? (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#32834240)

Is there an app for that? Sith and Desisth, Darth Belli, and of couse point and Sith.

tricorder (5, Informative)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 4 years ago | (#32830344)

And the tricorder has been invented. Dammit Jim, I'm playing Tetris not examining blood cells!

Re:tricorder (3, Funny)

JustinRLynn (831164) | more than 4 years ago | (#32830366)

Do both! Get a Dr Mario UI for it.

i'll believe it when I can buy one (2, Interesting)

snooo53 (663796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32830916)

Sounds like an awesome gadget for $10 if that's what it actually ends up costing to manufacture. But it remains to be seen if anyone will actually be able to buy one of these anytime in the near future. Hopefully whomever produces these has more business sense than Negroponte and the OLPC group. By the way, where is my $100 laptop?

Re:i'll believe it when I can buy one (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 4 years ago | (#32831350)

charity is not a business. It's a religion.

Re:tricorder (2, Informative)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 4 years ago | (#32832138)

Check out these Lab-On-A-Chip setups [wikipedia.org] . They're getting real close to chemical analysis tricorders.

Amateur DIY diagnosis? (4, Interesting)

therealobsideus (1610557) | more than 4 years ago | (#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?

Re:Amateur DIY diagnosis? (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#32831656)

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.

Re:Amateur DIY diagnosis? (1)

therealobsideus (1610557) | more than 4 years ago | (#32832408)

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.

Re:Amateur DIY diagnosis? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#32832502)

You go ahead and assume people are stupid and that's what you'll get.

Re:Amateur DIY diagnosis? (1)

therealobsideus (1610557) | more than 4 years ago | (#32832686)

Not assuming stupidity, assuming irrationality.

Re:Amateur DIY diagnosis? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#32832840)

Oh, a semantic dork. Good luck with that.

Re:Amateur DIY diagnosis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32833348)

You say "semantic", but what you mean is "stop pointing out that I'm wrong!".

Re:Amateur DIY diagnosis? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835974)

You say "semantic", but what you mean is "stop pointing out that I'm wrong!".

Because irrationality is not a form of stupidity.

Re:Amateur DIY diagnosis? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#32846004)

For those people, if it's not this, they'll easily find some other reason to believe they have a rare and fatal disease.

Re:Amateur DIY diagnosis? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32832766)

more people suffer and die because of them than in spite of them.

ROTFLMAO.

Re:Amateur DIY diagnosis? (1)

skids (119237) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835154)

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.

Re:Amateur DIY diagnosis? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#32845974)

Call it an educational toy.

Re:Amateur DIY diagnosis? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 4 years ago | (#32849402)

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:Amateur DIY diagnosis? (2, Interesting)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32832284)

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.

Re:Amateur DIY diagnosis? (1)

musmax (1029830) | more than 4 years ago | (#32832778)

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.

Re:Amateur DIY diagnosis? (1)

ChatHuant (801522) | more than 4 years ago | (#32833998)

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!

Re:Amateur DIY diagnosis? (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 4 years ago | (#32833978)

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.

Re:Amateur DIY diagnosis? (1)

abulafia (7826) | more than 4 years ago | (#32834192)

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 weird combination of guild behavior information hoarding and personal ego trip. That really needs to be stamped out.

Again, I'm not an anarchist on these things, but denying people the ability to investigate their own bodies because they didn't apprentice in the trade is wrong.

Roddenberry Estate C&D commencement in 3..2..1 (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#32830422)

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.

Re:Roddenberry Estate C&D commencement in 3..2 (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 4 years ago | (#32840400)

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.

Ozcan's RAZR (2, Funny)

TempeNerd (410268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32830456)

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

Re:Ozcan's RAZR (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 4 years ago | (#32831258)

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

Re:Ozcan's RAZR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32831596)

What does that have to do with microscopes?

*twitch* (3, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:*twitch* (2, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32830654)

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.

Re:*twitch* (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32830796)

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

Re:*twitch* (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32831008)

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."

Re:*twitch* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32836180)

This Ozcan has to go working for Gillette. Think about the marketing potential.

Just bill $100 per use (0, Troll)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32830510)

Just bill $100 per use

Re:Just bill $100 per use (1)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#32833378)

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 this, and ignore the countless millions gifted to libraries and art museums.

Medical Usefulness Overstated? (1)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 4 years ago | (#32830524)

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...

Re:Medical Usefulness Overstated? (5, Insightful)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | more than 4 years ago | (#32830852)

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:Medical Usefulness Overstated? (4, Informative)

wurp (51446) | more than 4 years ago | (#32831334)

Just to point out, sickle cell is common _because_ malaria is common. Having one copy of the recessive gene that causes sickle cell improves immune function against malaria.

So malaria disproportionally killed people who didn't have the sickle cell gene before they bred.

Re:Medical Usefulness Overstated? (2, Interesting)

alexander_686 (957440) | more than 4 years ago | (#32831194)

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.

I think that was already patented ... (1)

joelsanda (619660) | more than 4 years ago | (#32830602)

by Amazon, a few years back.

Re:I think that was already patented ... (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 4 years ago | (#32831112)

Amazon's one click diagnosis. (TM)

Damaging to education (4, Funny)

liak12345 (967676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32830622)

Children in developing worlds will get the completely wrong picture about cellular biology.

Can it detect semen stains in carpeting? (3, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32830810)

Because I'm not buying it unless it does.

Re:Can it detect semen stains in carpeting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32835080)

Settling a dispute with the last person who hired you?

(wow: captcha is "insert")

Wait for it... (1)

imgumbydamnit (730663) | more than 4 years ago | (#32831282)

AC troll complaining about government waste because of the $400,000 NSF award in 3... 2... 1...

Good idea, but... (1)

davmoo (63521) | more than 4 years ago | (#32831924)

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?

Time for an open source project. (2, Interesting)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32832340)

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.

The parts cost $10...... (1)

thephydes (727739) | more than 4 years ago | (#32833328)

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.

gotta love innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32853926)

just imagine when the socialist medical system gets put in place.... and healthcare in the us gets bogged down, or when doctors leave their career for better paying jobs, or even when local area facilities get shut down for cost reduction measures....

this device could provide a method for a person with a smartphone/camera to easily uplink results to a brand new market that could develop ... those medical professionals who moonlight or bail out of the government run system to create an alternative solution to the future medical mess forced upon us.

just think upload, pay with paypal, get a professionals diagnosis to aid in your own decision making process.
gotta love innovation

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