Mobile phone microscope can detect malaria

Engineers from the Texas A&M University developed a device that turns your phone into a microscope that detects malaria. The device is called a MOPID, or a mobile optical polarization imaging device. MOPID aims to make it easier for health workers in the developing countries to detect and fight the disease.

The add-on device, which is similar in look and feel to a protective phone case, makes use of a smart phone’s camera features to produce high-resolution images of objects 10 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair, says Gerard Coté, professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station’s Center for Remote Health Technologies and Systems.

“What we’ve achieved with MOPID is the design of a polarized microscope platform using a cell phone, which can detect birefringence in histological specimens infected with the malaria parasite,” Coté says. “It’s a simple, low-cost, portable device that we believe is more sensitive than the standard microscope that uses white light and just as accurate as the more costly and complex benchtop version of a polarized microscope.”

The MOPID has iPhone and Android compatible units and is expected to cost $10 each when released. Researchers plan do a field test in Rwanda, Africa.



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