The Cell Phone Can Truly Do It All!


Remember those days when we just used cell phones to talk with our family and friends? Yeah, that was short-lived.

It seems that cell phone technology is changing rapidly day by day. First it was the color screen, which was quickly followed by a camera. Then, it was the Internet and e-mail.

Great! Now I have everything in a single device. What else do I need?

How about a microscope?

Dr. Aydogan Ozcan, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, did just that. Using software that he developed himself and about $10 worth of hardware, he modified a cell phone to act as a microscope, reports the New York Times. The modified phones may be used to for screening in areas where hospitals, technicians, and laboratory equipment are not accessible.

In one version of the microscope phone, a prick of blood over the phone’s sensors can be used to detect abnormal cells or an infection. The cell phone must be programmed to either detect abnormalities immediately or send the information wirelessly to a nearby hospital or laboratory.

Specifically, the sensors “create a pattern called a hologram,” using light-emitting diodes as a light source, said Dr. David J. Brady, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke University. This process allows for a much more rapid way to process blood samples than a typical microscope. With a typical microscope, people must scan the sample mechanically. However, the hologram system allows you to digitally capture all the cells on the slide at the same time.

Microscope phone technology seems promising and has the potential to lead to rapid screening in remote and resource-poor areas. Now if only there was a way to enlarge the small image on a cell phone screen.

Wait, there is!

- blog authored by Amit Vira



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