A few months ago, we took a look at the CellScope, a tool that turns camera-enabled cell phones and netbooks into handheld microscopes that can diagnose diseases like malaria and tuberculosis. When we originally reported the story, images could only be captured in black and white. Now we've received word that the UC Berkeley CellScope project has upgraded the handheld microscope to take color pictures of parasites and bacteria labeled with fluorescent markers.
The researchers achieved this by using filters to block out background light and converting the CellScope's LED light into a wavelength that could excite green fluorescent dye. The result: researchers were able to take fluorescent pictures of tuberculosis bacteria with a normal cell phone camera. Once captured, the pictures could be transmitted wirelessly to remote locations.
The CellScope camera, which won $100,000 in Intel's INSPIRE EMPOWER Challenge in its black and white form, is still in the prototype phase. Here's hoping it gets shipped out to developing countries soon.