Friday, December 31, 2010

Cool Technology of the Week

Many innovative companies are creating novel healthcare applications for smart phones.  One of the coolest I've seen adapts the camera on a smart phone to serve as a microscope with a 1.2 micrometer resolution - sufficient to see and count white blood cells and bacteria.

Aydogan Ozcan at UCLA has worked for many years to bring high tech tools to low tech places.   A cell phone microscope that costs about $14 to produce, can provide laboratory services in isolated locations without the financial resources to purchase diagnostic equipment.

You can imagine clinicians in malaria endemic areas using cell phone microscopes to send blood smear photomicrographs to consultants.   Given the ubiquity of cell phone networks throughout the developing world, such technology has real promise.

Last year, I worked with the government of New Zealand on their Focus on Health Competition.  One of the competitors was Pictor Ltd, which created diagnostic products using micro arrays of color changing reaction wells requiring microliter quantities of blood or other fluids to be tested.   The microarray can be photographed and read with a smart phone.  

Making a smart phone into a microscope, hematology lab, and a chemistry lab.   That's cool!

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