Cellscope Diagnoses Diseases from Your Cell Phone


What if you could diagnose an ear infection with your cell phone? That might be possible thanks to an innovation from University of California, Berkeley professor Daniel Fletcher. The professor’s “Cellscope: Telemicroscopy for Disease Diagnosis” project is one of four winners in Intel’s INSPIRE EMPOWER Challenge, launched last summer as a call for the developer community to address world education, health care, environmental, and economic problems.

Fletcher’s cellscope turns camera-enabled cell phones and netbooks into handheld 5-50X microscopes capable of diagnosing and monitoring myriad diseases, including malaria and tuberculosis. And like any picture taken on a cell phone or computer, the image can be transmitted wirelessly–in this case, to clinical centers for evaluation.

The cellscope could be a big deal for developing countries that have more physicians than high-quality microscopes available. Whether the cellscope can be produced cheaply enough for said countries remains to be seen, but hopefully Fletcher’s $100,000 award from Intel will advance the design. 

The other winners in Intel’s INSPIRE EMPOWER Challenge include the Rural Livelihood Advancement Project, the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative, and the Mobile Solar Computer Classroom.

Related: The Fast Company 50 – #6 Intel