The goal of the project, named CellScope, is to make clinical quality microscopes accessible to patients in developing countries. Clinical quality microscopes are necessary for even the most basic medical evaluations, and in developing countries the scarcity of medical equipment is exacerbated by the lack of qualified medical personnel, especially in rural areas. The new cell-phone telemicroscope will allow people with very little means to receive diagnosis and appropriate treatments according to the remotely interpreted microscopy data.
Preliminary work has demonstrated the technical feasibility of this ‘telemicroscopy’ concept. While the ideal result would be low-budget, high-resolution microscopy images, the project is still only in its early stages, as the technology required to achieve this goal has yet to be fully established. According to the researchers at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, the final product will enable high quality telemicroscopy, which combined with cellular communication will enable doctors to remotely diagnose diseases.
This device will also save a lot of the time and money spent on sending medical teams to diagnose patients in remote locations. Poverty stricken regions around the globe and many developing countries can benefit from this technology, since the infrastructure for cellular phones is expanding rapidly, opening the door for even more widespread use of cell-phone-based healthcare equipment.
TFOT recently covered the Finchscope, a new 3D microscope, which may enable cheaper, faster, and more accurate three-dimensional imaging, and the development of a new scanning tunneling microscope, which could speed up atomic-level microscopy. Another related story is the development of a miniature sensor that can measure air and water pollution levels, which can help scientists in highly polluted countries and regions.
The CellScope Project is actively developing a second-generation device for field testing in 2008. For more information about its progress, see the telemicroscopy webpage.