Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a modular, high-magnification microscope that can be attached to a cell phone equipped with a camera. Newer camera phones are now able to capture all the details necessary to let doctors identify malaria parasites or cancer cells for example. A health care worker could simply take the picture and send it to a medical expert to get advice on diagnosis and treatment.
There are in fact two versions of the microscope. The first provides a 5x magnification and can be used to diagnose skin conditions (like a mole or a rash). The second has a 60x magnification and can capture details of blood cells and parasites. The first prototype cost only about USD$75 to build and used off-the-shelf components. Newer versions now come with integrated LEDs to better illuminate samples.
The microscope cell phone will be used in trials in Uganda this summer to identify and count malaria parasites. Another trial in California could look at white blood cell counts for leukemia patients.