Multifunction cellphones get a whole new twist with this modification by UCLA scientists: A microscope add-on that can detect HIV. Dr. Aydogan Ozcan’s Lensfree Ultrawide Cell-monitoring Array system simply bolts onto the camera sensor of a cellphone and adds the ability to detect HIV, malaria and other illnesses in places previously without much access to disease diagnosis equipment.
A coherent light source shines through blood samples and the LUCAS device onto the cameraphone’s sensor. The thousands of cells visible per “slide” increase detection chances, and then custom software helps interpretation of the results.
It’s hugely simple, and low-cost, and since it’s also much timelier than sending off samples for analysis in a remote hospital, it’s the kind of system that could revolutionize disease detection in developing parts of the world normally remote from advanced medical facilities.